Fowler is coming off a strong campaign for the Ducks. He scored 39 points (11 goals and 28 assists) in 80 games and showcased he's capable of the up-tempo, puck-moving game that blueliners are being asked to play more frequently. He added nine points in 13 playoff contests.
That said, it's a major commitment for a player who's gone through some up-and-down years since his outstanding rookie season with Anaheim in 2010-11, when he put up a career-high 40 points.
Dom Luszczyszyn of the Hockey News noted his Game Score projections show Fowler as a legitimate top-pairing defenseman heading into next season:
dom 🇨🇦 @domluszczyszyn
Cam Fowler https://t.co/JXHIqsUg6v2017-7-1 16:56:45
Yet, Micah Blake McCurdy of HockeyViz.com provided different advanced stats that show the Ducks star as more of a middling second-pair asset:
Micah Blake McCurdy @IneffectiveMath
Cam Fowler is an ok 3-4 defender. Why the Ducks felt the need to pour over fifty million dollars on his head is beyond me. https://t.co/fj72UL1wNi2017-7-1 16:53:03
Those varying outlooks sum up Fowler's entire career. A consensus has never emerged about exactly how valuable he is to the Ducks.
That said, the NHL free-agent period has become far more mundane in recent years because players like the 25-year-old American are inked to long-term deals before they can hit the market. Teams overpay because replacing any lost players during the offseason has become a difficult task.
So Fowler gets a monster, long-term contract to stay with the Ducks. If he plays like a true No. 1 defenseman for at least the first four or five years of the deal, it will be worth the investment. If his play drops off again, however, it's a major cap hit to work around in the future.