Judging from the knee-jerk reaction on Twitter yesterday and some comments from some folks on DBD, this Trevor Daley contract is a bit of a surprise to some and a divisive issue to say the least. Six years and a no trade clause are startling words for a player that at times polarizes the fan base like Trevor does. I think if you take a look at it closely, there's no need to panic.
Word in the press box was that the "no trade clause" applies to the first two years and then becomes conditional after that based on performance, but there's no softening of the six years. That is what it is. He'll make $3.5M for four years, meaning that in the last year of Robidas' contract (2013-2014), Daley will make more than Robi. The contract then lowers to $3.1M and $2.7M in the final two years. Curiously, it's one of the only Nieuwendyk contracts that is not back loaded to lessen the pressure of the first couple years.
When you look at the list of UFA defensemen that could be available (many of these will also be wrapped up before the summer gets here like Trevor was) July 1st, it's difficult to pick and choose exactly who you would replace Daley with. Who else is entering their prime years? Who else do you feel comfortable with? Do you want to get into a bidding war for UFA's? That's something this team can't afford right now and won't be involved for some years even with a new owner. Who else has the offensive upside that Daley has for a similar price?
They could probably find a suitable replacement defensively for a similar price at need, and one that would take fewer years, but maybe the Stars are more comfortable with what they know.
We say "offensive upside", but is Daley's good enough for this contract? In a 7-3 drubbing last night he was a +1 and recorded an assist. He's been better this year, and his 12 points through 38 games puts him right about on pace for a steady 25-26 points that he's been recorded for several seasons. He leads defensemen with a +9. He's still capable of more, perhaps, and I think he'd tell you that. There's no other choice now but to hope the offensive part of his game continues to evolve.
As far as league-wide "market value" goes, I don't think this is necessarily a bad contract...
More after the jump...
The problem is that the Stars payroll is likely to continue being well, well under the cap for a few more years while new ownership (please?) stabilizes and gets this thing back on it's feet. "Market value" for some teams could be crippling for the Stars depending on how things play out. It's the reason why we debated an $850k salary for Krys Barch. Every penny counts when your payroll is near the cap floor.
This is the game with NHL players and with defensemen. You get your entry level contract. You do your bridge deal, and when you reach UFA status, teams are either a.) done with you, b.) ready to let you hang on a year or two at a time (Barch, etc) or c.) ready to give you your big deal. Daley falls into the third category, like it or not.
Competent defensemen are becoming a precious commodity in this league and it seems less and less often that they actually hit the free agent market. Cash strapped teams will let them go sometimes because they have replacements coming. Multiple replacements. The Stars do not. The Stars have Larsen. Maybe. On top of that they have to make a decision on an aging Skrastins and Matt Niskanen (one would think) is probably under some scrutiny. Letting Daley go would have been a gamble of sorts and this is how Joe has decided to handle it. Only time will tell if works out.
We'll talk more about what this could mean for Richards later, but as for right now I will tell you what I think: IF Brad Richards were to sign an extension with the Dallas Stars, it would not be until there is a new owner in place. Getting paid isn't the problem there. He's been through it in Tampa, he's going through it in Dallas, and I think he's tired of it. He wants a stable situation with a group that is committed ($$$$) to winning. Just my two cents.
Read lots of Nieuwendyk quotes on all of this on the DMN Stars blog.