Ryan Getzlaf and the Anaheim Ducks agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $26.625 million, or approximately $5.25 million per season.
This extension is indicative of a new trend, where teams are signing whomever they can to long-term contracts right before they become eligible for free agency.
As an example, look at the recent signings of Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza.
Gone are the days when a four-year contract was considered long. Compared to the 15-year contract Charles Wang recently gave to G Rick DiPietro on Long Island, four years is now considered chump change.
Getzlaf's new contract looks likes this:
- Next season ('08/'09): $2 million signing bonus; $2.5 million in base salary
- '09 til '11: 5.125 mil per season.
- '11/'12: 5.75mil per season.
- '12/'13: 6.125 mil per season.
Not too bad for a 22-year-old!
I have seen Getzlaf play in person—both as a junior for the Calgary Hitmen, and in the NHL. He is a very gifted player but has been known to take stupid penalties in the past.
As a Hitman, he was a pain in the side—not only for his opponents, bu for his own team as well. After taking penalty after penalty, he was stripped of his captaincy midway through the season.
Since coming into the league, Getzlaf has improved his judgment in that regard—and I'm sure Burke and Carlyle would take credit for that. He now has a couple years of experience under his belt, and is starting to blossom into a perennial All-Star—at least, that is what Burke is hoping.
I am baffled how many younger players are getting signed to $25 million-plus contracts. In an age with a salary cap—and a rather tight one at that—one would think that the average deal would be for much less then what players have recently signed for.
Look at the recent high-profile signings that haven't turned into results. Dustin Penner received a highly-regarded offer sheet from the Oilers, and the Oilers have gotten very little in return. So far this season, Penner has nine points in 20 games—which is dreadful, given the $5 million he is set to make this season.
Tomas Vanek also received a big offer from the Oilers, which was matched by the Sabres. He has only 12 points in 18 games so far—more than Penner, but still much lower then was expected of him.
Now, I know that Penner and Vanek play for dreadful teams, but with the size of their contracts, their critics will demand that their output measures up. Even though these deals may have had more to do with Kevin Lowe's desperation to sign a top player than a realistic assessment of these players' worth, they will have no excuses in the years to come.
I do not feel that players should be signed to multimillion-dollar deals, and I will never change my mind on that. What I would like to see in the NHL would be a system similar to that of professional golf, where payouts are based on performance.
Obviously, all players would make a base salary, but at a much lower rate. The true value of their contracts would be boosted by incentives determined by how well they play. The incentives would be capped at a specific dollar amount, just like player salaries are today.
I know that this is unlikely to happen, as it could be considered very arbitrary, and there would be a lot of arguments over performances—but they do have a system like this already, via arbitration!