Re-signing Garon just got easier

Jonathan Willis
July 30 2008 10:01PM

Tom Reed of Puck-Rakers (and the Columbus Dispatch) has the dollar figures on Pascal Leclaire’s new contract:

Pascal Leclaire agreed to a three-year, $11.4 million contract on Wednesday. It’s a good deal for both sides. The Jackets did not over pay to keep a goalie who has given them one strong season. And if Leclaire performs to his expectations with a rebuilt defense in front of him, he should put up solid numbers, leading to a lucrative, longer-term deal in several years.

At an average cap hit of $3.8 million per season, Leclaire is right near the median salary for NHL goaltenders. His deal would also likely be the primary reference for the Edmonton Oilers and Mathieu Garon’s agent in negotiating an extension for Garon. Here are the statistics for the two goaltenders, post-lockout:

Pascal Leclaire

2005–06: 33 GP, 11-15-3, 3.23 GAA, .911 SV% 2006–07: 24 GP, 6-15-2, 2.97 GAA, .897 SV% 2007–08: 54 GP, 24-17-6, 2.25 GAA, .919 SV%

Mathieu Garon

2005–06: 63 GP, 31-26-3, 3.22 GAA, .894 SV% 2006–07: 32 GP, 13-10-6, 2.66 GAA, .907 SV% 2007–08: 47 GP, 26-18-1, 2.66 GAA, .913 SV%

The numbers are pretty much a wash. Leclaire is four years younger than Garon, but aside from that they’re very, very similar. Leclaire has never played more than 60 games at any level, Garon has done so once. Both had a similar record last season, and similar statistics, playing for teams of about the same strength. Leclaire is coming off a career season, as is Garon, and while Leclaire’s numbers (GAA and SV%) look stronger, the Blue Jackets allowed only 218 goals, as compared to the Oilers’ 251. They are very comparable players, although I’d argue that Leclaire has more leverage coming off the season he just had, given his age and the difference in save percentage and GAA.

There was a great post up at Mc79hockey.com about how it’s a buyers market for goaltenders in 2008–09, and I tend to agree with that. That said, would it be reasonable to speculate that Garon would likely accept a two-year, $6-million contract extension? If the price range was at about $3 million per season, I think the Oilers would be well-advised to sign him, because while Lowe seems to have a good eye for acquiring goaltenders through trade or free agency (Dwayne Roloson, Mathieu Garon), why fix something that isn’t broken?

—Jonathan Willis is the owner of Copper & Blue, a blog dedicated to all things Oil, and a frequent contributor to OilersNation.com.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Ender the Dragon
July 30 2008, 10:27PM
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I like what I've seen. While last year's 47 games don't tell the whole story, it's enough to justify $3M per season for more than 2 years. Sign the 5-year deal now, before his price doubles a year or two down the road.

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#2 Paper Designer
July 30 2008, 10:41PM
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Two years? Get him signed for four, and if you can, in the 3.5-4 range.

I'm not sure how long Garon is going to be a netminder, but five more years is probably safe. And it's going to take at least that long for the Oilers to figure out what the future of their goaltending is.

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#3 Jonathan
July 31 2008, 12:20AM
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Take a look at Mc79's post. It pretty much lays out why I don't think the Oilers should invest a ton of money or years in Garon at this juncture.

As for 5 years at 3 million a pop, I have trouble seeing Garon sign it, and I'm not sure that the Oilers would be wise to invest in a guy who could end up being a 1B goalie.

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#4 Tony Romo
July 31 2008, 09:19AM
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I personally agree with Mc79 and Jonathan. Garon - while good - has yet to prove himself over a long stretch. Because it is a buyers market for tenders, you can sign him to a shorter term deal and see how it plays out. But you don't leave yourself tied to a potential 1B as you would in a long term deal, as Jonathan correctly points out.

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#5 MrOiler
July 31 2008, 10:33AM
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If the club could sign him for ~$3M for 2 or 3 years, why not? Not a tremendous risk. 5 years or more $'s starts me wondering ...

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#6 fyvmvv
July 31 2008, 11:16AM
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There would be a risk signing him because his performance for the Oil last year was the best he has ever put together prior to coming here. But given the amounts and contract duration some players have received having showed relatively little I'd sign him for sure. Garon impresses me with his play and his personna.

GM's are in the unenviable position of having to commit long term to players before they are totally confortable doing so. The buy-outs this off season are a sure fire sign of regret on the part of some GMs.

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#7 Ender the Dragon
July 31 2008, 11:40AM
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I've read Mc79’s post and I agree with a good part of it. I also take Jonathan's comment about Garon signing a 5-yr $15M contract to heart; maybe Garon wouldn't. Still, though, I have to wonder what some people would want to see from a goaltender before signing a 5-year contract. You need better numbers than Garon had last year? That's going to cost you $25M+ over the same five years. You need a longer history of the numbers Garon showed you last year? That's going to bring you an older player, whose numbers may start to decline over the term of the contract. Some people just seem pretty hard to please to me. Garon is showing solid play and is getting better year-to-year. He has ridiculous numbers in shootouts and I'd like to believe that those pressure situations can translate well into playoff performance. Tell me again why anyone expects that Garon will end up being a 1B instead of a premier goaltender . . .

If Garon isn't your 5-year guy at $15-$18M, then who is and what's he going to cost you?

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#8 Scott
August 01 2008, 04:12PM
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Ender,

Why do you need a five-year guy? Garon was middle of the pack in save percentage this past year and this was his best year. Unless you're getting one of the top goaltenders in the league it's not worth investing long term.

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