Who killed the second contract?

True to his ethnicity – Irish Alzheimer’s: you forget everything except the grudges – Brian Burke is still trashing Kevin Lowe for messing up the hockey market.

But on his Globe blog, Eric Duhatschek offers a different take.

If we are to blame anyone for the extinction of sane second contracts – the affordable deals that used to be offered young players coming out of entry-level, before they qualified for arbitration – the culprit is Doug MacLean. As general manager in Columbus three years ago, MacLean signed Rick Nash, who was all of 21, to a five-year, $27 million extension.

That deal set the benchmark for the lunacy that has ensued.

As Duhatschek writes, "the most controversial concession the
owners ceded to the players coming out of the lockout was dropping the
age of free agency from 31 to 25. That CBA clause, more than anything
Lowe did by trying to poach Thomas Vanek or Dustin Penner as restricted
free agents, was the primary reason why young players are getting so
much money right now.

If a team wanted to play hardball with its kids, it still has the right
to do so. Nothing has fundamentally changed on that front. A team can
still tender a qualifying offer to any young player coming out of his
first contract and if the team doesn’t want to negotiate beyond that,
the player’s option is take-it-or-leave it.

But – and this is the big but – every manager has to weigh the
consequences of negotiating hard on the second contract against the
real possibility that if they do so, the player will almost certainly
exit – stage right – as soon as he is contractually allowed to do so.
So that’s the primary reason why Mike Richards received a 15-year
commitment from Philadelphia and Alex Ovechkin got 12 years from
Washington. Teams are scared to death that they’ll invest time, effort
and draft choices in these young players and then lose them for nothing
at the ripe old age of 25. 

 Given this context and the Jeff Carter deal – three years,  $15 million – how astute is Bob Gainey to lock up Andrei Kostitsyn through 2011 at a cap-friendly $3.25 million per?

Smarter than the average bear, the Canadiens’ gm.


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