On July 1, the NHL’s first day of free agency, money was thrown in massive amounts to players just getting out of their latest contracts. It’s a frenzy every year, but this free agency day was notable for the enormous sums of money on many of the contracts, as the money and terms grow more ambitious each year.
On the latest Bruins Beat podcast, host Evan Marinofsky and guest Brandan Share-Cohen of The Hockey Writers discussed some of the deals shortly after they were signed on Monday afternoon.
Marinofsky brought up the new contract for elite goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who left the Columbus Blue Jackets to play for the Florida Panthers with a fat paycheck of $10 million a year for seven years.
“This topic I think needs to be talked about more.” Marinofsky said. “Goalies cannot be the centerpiece of your team.”
Marinofsky did recognize the appeal of having the security of a good, well-known goaltender.
“I know Florida just wants a guy who’s marketable — I get it,” he said. “But I don’t understand why they’re committing that much money to it.”
Over the past few years, the trend of signing goaltenders to hefty, long-term contracts has been on the rise in tandem with the salary cap. Elite goaltenders are must-haves if a team wants to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup, but many teams sign older goaltenders for more than five years when, generally, goaltenders begin to show their full skills in their mid-20s.
Share-Cohen compared the contract to Carey Price’s contract, which was signed in 2017 for $10.5 million annually over eight years. The contract also included a no-move clause all eight years.
“I said it was not a good contract. I said it was maybe the worst contract I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Share-Cohen. “I can’t excuse this deal with Bobrovsky either. No disrespect to him but what has Bobrovsky really won in his career?”
Marinofsky brought up other goaltenders around the league.
“[Henrik] Lundqvist is pretty much the centerpiece of the Rangers. Carey Price? The centerpiece of the Montreal Canadiens. Bobrovsky is now going to be the centerpiece of Florida. [Those teams] aren’t going to [be able to] do anything; there’s too much money committed at the goaltending position.” Marinofsky said.
Marinofsky also said that this places Boston’s net situation in the ideal position.
“I think the Bruins have the max you should probably commit to a goalie, which is about 7 to 8 million.” Marinofsky said. “And that’s high. Anything past that? This is going to make it tough for Florida to do anything else.”
The contract for Tuukka Rask, which was signed in 2013, will be for $6.5 million this year and next year until it ends in 2022. Over the last few seasons, the annual rate varied from $6 million to $7.5 million, averaging out to a cap hit of $7 million a year.
“Bobrovsky is 30.” said Marinofsky. “You’re telling me at 37 they’re still going to want to pay him $10 million a year?”
Marinofsky explained how the Bobrovsky deal makes Rask’s contract look like a bargain in a piece for CLNS Media.