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Why Young NHL Stars Should Bet On Themselves and Opt for Less Term


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While NHL stars of today generally opt for the long-term mega-deal, NBA stars tend to go for short-term deals in order to fully optimize the rapidly changing cap landscape. One-or-two years and then re-up to reap the rewards of a larger salary cap pie. The term limits in the NBA are shorter than the NHL (five years versus eight years), yes, but that doesn?t make it any less pragmatic of a strategy for the players that can afford to make it.


Since 2005-06, when the NHL salary cap was just $39 million, the cap has risen in every year but one (the 2012-13 shortened season) at an average rate of 5.7 percent, though that figure has been closer to four percent in recent seasons. Over eight seasons that?s a 31.5 percent rise at four percent per year and a 50.6 percent rise at six percent per year ? a rise that is often not accounted for in a player?s salary structure, a hefty sacrifice in potential earning power.


In the salary cap era, there?s long been a tendency for superstars to lock themselves in for a long period, guaranteeing themselves big money and financial security for an extended stretch of time. For NHLers, term is king, with a lengthy commitment seen as a win for the player?s side. For some players that ideology has credence, with elder unrestricted free agents being paid heavily for past performance without much consideration of a typical age curve definitely falling in that category. But for the cream of the crop, players like Matthews, it makes much less sense to lock in, especially those at prime age or nearing it.


While true for some anecdotally, it?s generally an unnecessary favour to be made considering how inefficient the salary market is and it?s a sacrifice that?s usually only asked of the league?s top earners ? the players actually worst the cost ? rather than the less consistent middle class. Consider too that those savings tend to go towards unrestricted free agency where money is being spent on what a player once was, not what he will be, and that point becomes more glaring. There?s no reason that a player should undercut his own value for the sake of the team, especially if it means overpaying for someone else who isn?t worth it. Further, making that long-term commitment lowers a player?s flexibility, making it difficult to escape a team that bungled the savings earned from the superstar?s long-term deal. See McDavid, Connor.



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There's tons of examples of guys who signed long term deals and by the last few years of the deal everyone is wondering why they aren't making so much more.


Wayne Simmonds is on $5 mil of salary this year and a $3.9 mil Cap hit.

McKinnon is locked in to 6 and change for a few years and now you're thinking if he hit UFA he'd be getting a lot more

Forsberg is locked in at $6mil per till 2022. If he hit the open market sooner he would be getting a lot more as well.


It's tough though. There are certainly examples of the other way where guys are getting overpaid later in their contracts. It's tough to turndown that guaranteed 'rest of your life' security.


I never knock a guy for going for the money. For every guy who is in this situation, there's a bunch of lower end guys that are hoping to add another 100k to their contract cuz it will make a load of difference down the line for them, and a lot of guys will certainly have to find work after their careers end. To be able to guarantee lifelong financial security has got to be hard to turn down.

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