With NHL free agency upon us and the rumors flying about the potential of Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin signing with the New York Islanders, we caught up to chat about where the Isles should draw the line on contract offers for each.
With Lou Lamoriello’s New York Islanders you literally never know what to expect, and so far we’ve been left scratching our heads over the past year. The moves he made worked out, so it’s hard to question him so far, but was that a product of the moves or of Barry Trotz’s superior coaching acumen?
I riffed a bit with Mitch Anderson via a cross-pond WhatsApp and we decided to turn it into a bit of a roundtable. Who do you agree with?
Brian: Alright man, we’ve heard a lot of rumors from a load of sources of varying credibility. So now that you’ve heard them all, what do you think is the most the Isles should offer Bobrovsky and/or Panarin?
Mitch: We have no idea what the market is for a point per game winger in today’s NHL. Patrick Kane currently holds the highest cap hit for a winger at $10.5 million. Panarin seems on course to hit that, and more. I’d easily pay between $10-11 million a season for a thirty goal scoring point-per-game generating winger.
Brian: I have a feeling someone will give him an absurd amount of money, but I agree that on a long-term deal he should be maxed by the Isles at $10 million per year. If Nikita Kucherov, who is a FAR superior AND younger player gets eight years at $9.5 million (granted, at a hometown discount) then Panarin should not get much more, and only should because he’s a UFA hitting the market.
Mitch: He’s 27 years old, so a seven-year deal would take him until he’s 34 years old. Just for some perspective, Andrew Ladd is currently 33 years old, and he’s on the books for four more seasons. Four!
Brian: Well sure, seven years feels right, but you can justify any contract length or value if you compare it to Ladd’s. If we’re comparing to Ladd’s deal then Panarin should get $20 million a year for 75 years.
Mitch: Oh god, you’re right. I need a beer.
Brian: OK, what about Bob?
Mitch: I like Bobrovsky as a player, but I can’t stand the notion of the New York Islanders giving him a huge deal. Robin Lehner is practically begging the Islanders to stay with the team. Lehner is younger, will be cheaper, and while he may not be ‘better’ than Bobrovsky, he’s not far off the mark.
Brian: I’d go max of four years at $7 million per year.
Mitch: That’s less than his current deal.
Brian: I know it. Will he take it? Highly unlikely, but his age and last season’s performance are not in his favor. Should he get a raise as he exits his prime, coming off one of his worst seasons (17th in GAA, 22nd in Save%)? Not a chance.
Mitch: He’ll get more than his current deal. I wouldn’t want to give Bobrovsky more than an $8 million AAV. But on his last deal, Bobrovsky carried a $7.245 million AAV. Is all this free agency business really only going to net him less than a million a season more? I doubt it.
Brian: I don’t understand how he can expect more than his previous deal when he had a season that likely is a peek into what is to come. This is just like Eberle’s situation taking less money on the new contract now that he’s older and had a down year, and I’m comfortable with this offer if it brings Panarin with him.
Mitch: In terms of term, I’m not going longer than five years. Bobrovsky is 30 years old, three years older than Lehner. He might have a few more good years, but when does the decline start to happen?
Brian: Personally I think that decline already has started. Because of that, I can’t be comfortable with anything over four years.
Mitch: For Henrik Lundqvist that started happening around 34 years old. Signing him to a long term deal (like seven years) could be catastrophic.
Brian: Lundqvist is a freak. I’m not sure you can compare him in his 30’s to many other netminders. OK, last take. Between Lee, Lehner, Panarin, and Bobrovsky, give me a Yes or No for whether they are on the Isles next year.
Mitch: Lee, yes. Lehner, yes, Panarin, no, Bobrovsky, no.
Brian: I think Florida has Bob and Panarin already in the bag and Lou’s fool’s errand chasing them is going to cost us all four walking away, unfortunately. Loyalty could keep Lee and Lehner around, but if they get better market value offers, they’re rightfully goners.
Mitch: What a mess that would be. But hey, it would open a spot for Ho-Sang!
Brian: I think we’d be getting a heavier dose of Dal Colle and Christopher Gibson if this all goes down.
Mitch: Oh god, you might be right. I need another beer
When the free agent period opens we’ll have a lot of the answers we’ve been clamoring for, and we may be left scratching our heads again. We’ve learned to trust in Lou, but more importantly, we can trust in Barry to turn whatever players Lou provides him into a winning team.