In case you haven't heard, the big news of the day is of course that the San Jose Sharks have signed a player to the off-seasons first offer sheet, getting Chicago RFA defenseman Nik Hjalmarsson (age 23) for a reported 4 years and $14 million dollars. (What? You thought the big news was LeBron James?) This is interesting to the Stars for a variety of reasons.
First, it flies in the face of the notion that no one is willing to stick their necks out, overpay for an RFA (which if often the case with an offer sheet) and fork over, in this case, a first and a third rounder. If the Blackhawks do not match in the next week, the Sharks will have themselves a 23 year old defenseman who scored 17 points last year locked up for 4 years at 3.5 per. He made $666k last year. The notion that this could happen with James Neal is still a little far fetched, but the offer sheet seal has been broken today. So never say never.
The more relevant conversation is how it might compare to Nick Grossman's negotiations. We've heard tidbits about Neal here and there but the Grossman situation has been quiet on all fronts. The big 25 year old Swede made $1.05 million last year playing mostly first pairing minutes along side Stephane Robidas (who gets a big bump to $3.25 million next season.) Is Nicklas Grossman a top pairing defenseman? On the Stars, yes. On a deep playoff team type roster, probably not, so where does that leave his market value? A solid #3 or #4, but should he care about what his market value is when his role on the team next year would be as a top pair player?
If you listen to the what the Sharks are saying, they think Hjalmarsson is a #3 guy and they're still giving him $3.5 a year.
"We feel Niklas is a top-three defenseman in the National Hockey League," said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. "We saw his abilities first-hand in the playoffs last season and he was an important piece of a Stanley Cup-winning team. He is a solid player that would be a good fit on our team now and in the future." [link]
It's difficult to compare metrics when discussing defensemen, and Hjalmarsson's playoff performance is a part of the equation that Nick Grossman can't match yet. Both guys played between 19 and 20 minutes last year. Neither plays PP minutes, both play about 2 minutes on the PK a night. Hjalmarsson's 17 points beat Grossmans 7, but couldn't you put Shaq on skates and get him 17 points on last years stacked Blackhawk team?
How about a couple of other contracts that are more reasonable price-wise...
There have been a lot of defensive signings this off-season, but who to compare to Grossman? Adrian Aucoin? 2 years, $4 million...too old. Raitis Ivanans? 2 years, $1.6 million...too caveman. Kyle Quincey? 2 years, $6.25 million...too skilled?, but we're getting closer.
How "aboot" these ones?
|Dan Girardi||26||21:28||24||-2||4||$13.3 million|
|Carlo Colaiacovo||27||17:18||32||+8||2||$4.25 million|
|Johnny Boychuk||26||17:39||15||+10||2||$3.75 million|
First, Colaiacovo might want to check out Girardi's deal and call his agent. Second, Nick Grossman's offense clearly doesn't match up to these other deals being signed out there this year, so that's kind of a bad news/good news situation there for Joe Nieuwendyk.
Consider also Braydon Coburn who got a 2 year, $6.4 million deal at the age of 25. (-6, 19 points)
If I had to guess, and I do, I would bet the Stars are targeting a deal similar to Colaiacovo's as far as the dollars per year go. At 25 years old, Grossman could be looking for some years on this deal, and that would allow Joe Nieuwendyk to back load it enough to make both sides happy with the term and the cap hit. Then again, a short contract would allow him to try his luck at being a UFA in a couple of seasons. 25 year old's generally aren't looking for "bridge contracts", but Grossman is likely not offer sheet target-worthy, so the Stars likely have a good bargaining position with their RFA here.
Maybe I should have titled it "wildly guessing at Nick Grossman's value."
We're not worried about Nick Grossman getting re-signed, but some of these numbers going around in free agency do make you wonder how much it's going to cost when we've been thinking all along Grossman would from $1 million to around $2 million. The market is telling us that might be a little low.
Here is the RFA compensation for this year, just in case...
$1,020,348 or less: No compensation.
$1,020,348 to $1,545,981: Third round pick
$1,545,981 to $3,091,963: Second round pick
$3,091,963 to $4,637,944: First round pick and third round pick
$4,637,944 to $6,183,925: First round pick, second round pick and third round pick
$6,183,925 to $7,729,907: Two first round picks, a second round pick and third round pick
More than $7,729,907: Four first round picks