Be Less Naïve

Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009 09:49AM

radulov

KHL contracts have essentially no value. This topic comes up because yet again rumours that Jaromir Jagr wants to get out of his KHL contract and return to the NHL next season have cropped up. Yet again, the Edmonton Oilers are the rumoured front-runner for his services.

Say what you will about Jagr – and people like Robin Brownlee have said that he wouldn’t sign him, but whatever you do, don’t play the “he has a KHL contract” card, as Kevin Lowe and Alexander Medvedev did in denying the rumours. Some journalists have even suggested that KHL rules are a stumbling block to getting players out of Russia.

The point that I want folks to be crystal clear on is that the KHL’s rules don’t matter in the slightest. Why should they? NHL contracts have not been respected by the KHL.

Alexander Radulov, to use the obvious example, was under contract to the Nashville Predators for a little less than a million dollars this season. Despite having signed a legal contract with no out clause, Radulov was signed by Ufa Salavat of the KHL, with protests by the NHL and Nashville Predators falling on deaf ears.

There are other examples. The Carolina Hurricanes saw two players on NHL/AHL contracts poached by KHL teams, including ex-Oiler Dan Lacouture. The KHL used the first pretext they could to break their deal with the NHL, and as a result they consider players with NHL contracts fair game.

The KHL does not view an NHL contract as an impediment to signing a player. For that reason alone, the NHL has no obligation to respect KHL contracts.

I’m on the fence about Jagr – unlike Brownlee, I think he could be a useful addition to the team. Like Brownlee, though, I think $7 million is far too much money. I am, however, under no illusions that Jagr’s KHL contract will keep him in Russia.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 sittingatmydesk
March 13 2009, 09:59AM
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i think Jagr has been a really good palyer, but his last 3 seasons in the NHL, his points production dropped by 20 points each season... 7 mill is a bit too much, i think on a 1 year contract with incentives could be the best way to go... the KHL, is a joke...all the contracts are going to be nullified pretty soon, then its fair game, but really theres probaly 2 or 3 players that could come to the NHL..the rest are garbage.... what happened to marty "sakic", he scored on a breakway!!!

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#2 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 10:08AM
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sittingatmydesk wrote:

really theres probaly 2 or 3 players that could come to the NHL..the rest are garbage

There's plenty more than that. The KHL seems to be a tougher league than the AHL.

There's probably only two or three players who would put up big NHL numbers, but there are a lot of guys over there who could play over here.

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#3 sittingatmydesk
March 13 2009, 10:30AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

There’s probably only two or three players who would put up big NHL numbers, but there are a lot of guys over there who could play over here.

yes, i agree, im talking more about impact players, superstars....

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#4 TonyT
March 13 2009, 10:33AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Does the issue of waivers still apply in the off-season?

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#5 The Towel Boy
March 13 2009, 10:34AM
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I'd take Jagr if he wanted to sign a Hossa-esque 1 year deal for 1/7th of his "market value."

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#6 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 10:38AM
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TonyT wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Does the issue of waivers still apply in the off-season?

No.

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#7 Deep Oil
March 13 2009, 10:54AM
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Any NHL calibre player (mostly Russian or Euros) that desires to make equal net after dollars should just demand that payment be made in USD. Then this currency fluctuation would be void, noting the Ruble is down 30%. If there is a delay in your paycheque, then shame on you for trusting the RUSKIES and see what UFA offers are available back across the globe.

KHL is not a modern league - mostly a russian oil czar propping up Russian pride and poking the NHL in the eye... with the price of oil these days, due to the dark knight friends in New York running it up to $150 and then selling it short.... this league is now running on fumes.

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#8 Peter Pan
March 13 2009, 10:59AM
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As much as I devalue JW's opinions and simple-mindedness, I must admit I agree with him about the legitimacy of KHL contracts and how the NHL should perceive them them to be so.

In regards to Jagr possibly becoming an Oiler - not worth it. Jagr is a has-been. His sun has set. How would he benefit this team long-term? A band-aid solution is nothing to get too excited about. Management still can't decifer whether we're re-building or not. The Oil have missed the past 2 post-seasons and are potentially on the verge of a 3rd straight miss. Despite what many in ON argue, the Oil have a "decent" young core and they should focus on their development. And bringing in Jagr will not benefit that process. Rather, investing in younger, long-term players would be the way to go.

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#9 socaldave
March 13 2009, 11:00AM
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Deep Oil wrote:

with the price of oil these days, due to the dark knight friends in New York running it up to $150 and then selling it short…. this league is now running on fumes.

I've laughed at most of your posts, and I still think you're joking 99.7% of the time, but if you truly believe this, then you are absolutely out of your f***ing gourd. Go take a global policy class and come back and see me.

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#10 swany
March 13 2009, 11:05AM
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One think we seem to forget is when his #'s went down in NY he lost 2 of his playmakers, with Hemmer setting him up I could see JJ hitting 80-90 points again. He isn't a big hittier but ask any player and he is a tough SOB to knock off the puck, I would see if you can't get him for 2 years at 11 mil. 2 years because I can't see him just signing a one year deal, that's why he wasn't an Oiler this year. Klowe hindsight is 20/20. If JJ was here this year over Cole you can add 4-5 more wins just from the rise in skill level.

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#11 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 11:07AM
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Peter Pan wrote:

As much as I devalue JW’s opinions and simple-mindedness, I must admit I agree with him about the legitimacy of KHL contracts and how the NHL should perceive them them to be so.

~And as much as I value your wisdom, in this instance even you(!) disagreeing with me wouldn't change my mind.~

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#12 Peter Pan
March 13 2009, 11:11AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Thanks buddy!

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#13 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 11:14AM
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@ Peter Pan:

Anytime ;)

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#14 The Towel Boy
March 13 2009, 11:37AM
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*cuts tension with knife*

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#15 Librarian Mike
March 13 2009, 11:37AM
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*coughs* 'ADAMOATES' *coughs*

Jagr was a phenomenal player, but he's always had motivation issues. He needs a ready-made team that has a chance at going far. I think he'd get here and see that this team is destined for mediocrity and phone it in.

One thing though, I'd love to see MacT's reaction when Jagr comes off for a shift change in the middle of an opponents' odd man rush. His head might actually explode (PKEW)!

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#16 german titov
March 13 2009, 11:40AM
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in case anyone's wondering, i haven't yet signed with avangard omsk.

- german.

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#17 Ogden Brother
March 13 2009, 11:54AM
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sittingatmydesk wrote:

i think Jagr has been a really good palyer, but his last 3 seasons in the NHL, his points production dropped by 20 points each season… 7 mill is a bit too much, i think on a 1 year contract with incentives could be the best way to go… the KHL, is a joke…all the contracts are going to be nullified pretty soon, then its fair game, but really theres probaly 2 or 3 players that could come to the NHL..the rest are garbage…. what happened to marty “sakic”, he scored on a breakway!!!

On a one year deal his $$$ really isn't relevant. Lets lay down a Sundin style offer for next year and see where it goes.

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#18 treblecharger
March 13 2009, 12:00PM
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I'd give Jagr 5 mil and another 2 if the Oil go 3 rounds in the playoffs.

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#19 Deep Oil
March 13 2009, 12:23PM
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socaldave wrote:

Deep Oil wrote: with the price of oil these days, due to the dark knight friends in New York running it up to $150 and then selling it short…. this league is now running on fumes. I’ve laughed at most of your posts, and I still think you’re joking 99.7% of the time, but if you truly believe this, then you are absolutely out of your f***ing gourd. Go take a global policy class and come back and see me.

I actually hold a business degree and have learned via bloomberg that less than 25% of oil trades involve the actual commodity - all paper. Go watch Mad Money, this conspiracy trader you can learn from.

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#20 yo
March 13 2009, 12:27PM
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Sheer folly. We've seen this move by the Oil too many times before.

Adding a veteran player or two prior to the trade deadline may pay benefits in the playoffs if you think you have a realistic chance. This is not the way you build a franchise in my view. Fans and the organization may be setting themselves up for disappointment by hanging the Oilers future on a potential move like bringing in a purportedly arrogant over-paid veteran like Jagr. What do you really think the chances he buys into the coaches system? He could really mess up the chemistry and leadership core with his potential addition.

Why tie up a large part of your cap space on this guy?

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#21 Ogden Brother
March 13 2009, 01:03PM
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yo wrote:

Sheer folly. We’ve seen this move by the Oil too many times before. Adding a veteran player or two prior to the trade deadline may pay benefits in the playoffs if you think you have a realistic chance. This is not the way you build a franchise in my view. Fans and the organization may be setting themselves up for disappointment by hanging the Oilers future on a potential move like bringing in a purportedly arrogant over-paid veteran like Jagr. What do you really think the chances he buys into the coaches system? He could really mess up the chemistry and leadership core with his potential addition. Why tie up a large part of your cap space on this guy?

On a one year deal the risks are REALLY minimal. I'd simply use a Jagr signing as a patch work until Gagner is ready to for the first line.

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#22 yo
March 13 2009, 01:21PM
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Deep Oil wrote: I actually hold a business degree and have learned via bloomberg that less than 25% of oil trades involve the actual commodity - all paper. Go watch Mad Money, this conspiracy trader you can learn from.

You actually hold a business degree do you...well whose is it pray tell? We probably got our degrees from the same place...Oprah's University of High Level. Summa Cum Laude I presume?

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#23 Ducey
March 13 2009, 01:21PM
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"The KHL does not view an NHL contract as an impediment to signing a player. For that reason alone, the NHL has no obligation to respect KHL contracts."

Well I don't think it is that simple. If the NHL tried to sue in Russian courts (where they would have to sue the KHL) they are not likely to get much of a fair hearing (assuming that inducing a breach of contract is even available as a cause of action there). If the KHL sued the NHL in a Canadian or American court, they would get a fair hearing. The NHL couldn't exactly say "they did it too" as a defence.

There is still a good chance of players coming back from Russia at their own insistence. I expect any NHL team is going to make sure they would not be held liable for inducing the player to come back to the NHL.

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#24 Chris
March 13 2009, 01:33PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

On a one year deal the risks are REALLY minimal. I’d simply use a Jagr signing as a patch work until Gagner is ready to for the first line.

Do you really believe Gagner will be ready for first line duty at 21? I like Gagner too, but let's face it: It's still very much in doubt if Gagner will EVER develop into legitimate first line material.

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#25 Ogden Brother
March 13 2009, 01:37PM
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Chris wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: On a one year deal the risks are REALLY minimal. I’d simply use a Jagr signing as a patch work until Gagner is ready to for the first line. Do you really believe Gagner will be ready for first line duty at 21? I like Gagner too, but let’s face it: It’s still very much in doubt if Gagner will EVER develop into legitimate first line material.

I firmly believe Gagner will be a high end first liner, his #'s as an 18 year old are surpased by only the NHL elite.

Anyways, my point wasn't really about Gagner. It was about giving the Oilers an impact player on a deal (one year) that wont hurt the team going forward.

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#26 Chris
March 13 2009, 01:52PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I firmly believe Gagner will be a high end first liner, his #’s as an 18 year old are surpased by only the NHL elite.

I appreciate your optimism... and I hope you're right. Personally, I need a little more evidence than a hot twenty game streak to appoint Gagner heir apparant. Gagner lacks size, speed, and vision on the rush. From a static position, or on the cycle, Gagner is an elite puck mover... no doubt... Unfortunately, Gagner lacks a truly effective NHL shot, can't win faceoffs, and is still very inconsistant. There has to be lot's of growth before Gagner is ready to step up to that role; Let's keep our expectations realistic.

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#27 Ogden Brother
March 13 2009, 02:14PM
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@ Chris:

I don't know how to discribe it with Sam... he just has "it". For a small man he has a tremendous amount of fight in him. I see alot of similarities between Gagner and Mark Savard.

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#28 Deep Oil
March 13 2009, 02:23PM
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yo wrote:

Deep Oil wrote: I actually hold a business degree and have learned via bloomberg that less than 25% of oil trades involve the actual commodity - all paper. Go watch Mad Money, this conspiracy trader you can learn from. You actually hold a business degree do you…well whose is it pray tell? We probably got our degrees from the same place…Oprah’s University of High Level. Summa Cum Laude I presume?

Are you and socal dave holding hands right now and playing spin the bottle ? If anyone could predict the markets, they would be billionaires overnight, just like the Dark Knight.

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#29 Deep Oil
March 13 2009, 02:26PM
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Ducey wrote:

“The KHL does not view an NHL contract as an impediment to signing a player. For that reason alone, the NHL has no obligation to respect KHL contracts.” Well I don’t think it is that simple. If the NHL tried to sue in Russian courts (where they would have to sue the KHL) they are not likely to get much of a fair hearing (assuming that inducing a breach of contract is even available as a cause of action there). If the KHL sued the NHL in a Canadian or American court, they would get a fair hearing. The NHL couldn’t exactly say “they did it too” as a defence. There is still a good chance of players coming back from Russia at their own insistence. I expect any NHL team is going to make sure they would not be held liable for inducing the player to come back to the NHL.

With the currency exchange at a 30% discount, cheques arriving late - this seems to be a mute point.

KHL is just a step above the German league in terms of housing, tax free income - the loss of benefits in terms of modernization, longer air travel, and weather similar to Edmonton - noting that Moscow is excluded from this equation......

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#30 Chris
March 13 2009, 02:36PM
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@ Ogden Brother: I hope you're right. It's important to draft you're team.

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#31 The Menace
March 13 2009, 03:35PM
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I'd hate to see us sign Jagr for some ridiculous amount, and then miss out on a younger (still got-it) type forward like Hossa. I said something similar in RB's post the other day, but these kind of Twilight signings are better suited to a city that needs a big name to draw ticket sales - not nessesarily to put up huge numbers or win when it counts. We don't need that here.

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#32 Ogden Brother
March 13 2009, 03:56PM
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The Menace wrote:

I’d hate to see us sign Jagr for some ridiculous amount, and then miss out on a younger (still got-it) type forward like Hossa. I said something similar in RB’s post the other day, but these kind of Twilight signings are better suited to a city that needs a big name to draw ticket sales - not nessesarily to put up huge numbers or win when it counts. We don’t need that here.

I think the idea is that the team realizes that chances of landing Hossa are .00001% so if you actually have a chance at a high end talent, you take it.

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#33 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 04:04PM
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Ducey wrote:

Well I don’t think it is that simple. If the NHL tried to sue in Russian courts (where they would have to sue the KHL) they are not likely to get much of a fair hearing (assuming that inducing a breach of contract is even available as a cause of action there). If the KHL sued the NHL in a Canadian or American court, they would get a fair hearing. The NHL couldn’t exactly say “they did it too” as a defence. There is still a good chance of players coming back from Russia at their own insistence. I expect any NHL team is going to make sure they would not be held liable for inducing the player to come back to the NHL.

You're probably right that it isn't quite that simple, but the RSL (the KHL's predecessor) showed a remarkable unwillingness to fight battles in North American courts, and based on Medvedev's public statements, I'd be very surprised if he were willing to change that policy.

I'm not a lawyer, so I probably shouldn't state my position so strongly, but I very much doubt that if an NHL club sees an opportunity to improve that they'd let a KHL contract stop them.

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#34 Chris
March 13 2009, 04:25PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Numbers aside... when you watch a game do you get the feeling Gagner will grow to be a first line center?

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#35 David S
March 13 2009, 04:55PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Numbers aside… when you watch a game do you get the feeling Gagner will grow to be a first line center?

Not sure what Jonathan will say, but for the past while our second line has been our first line if you judge lines by their relative effectiveness.

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#36 swany
March 13 2009, 05:02PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Numbers aside… when you watch a game do you get the feeling Gagner will grow to be a first line center?

His drive to win will make him a 1st line player that is besides his skill. I have never seen someone as small as Gagner battle for pucks so hard. He never quits. I think Gagner will be a 80-90 point guy if he would start the season like he finishes.

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#37 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 05:36PM
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@ Chris:

On the whole I'd say yes. Gagner's a very, very smart player and he's still very young; additionally he doesn't seem shy about venturing into puck battles. He has his horrible miscues, and sometimes I think the effort lags a little bit, but I'm optimisitic.

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#38 Ogden Brother
March 13 2009, 05:46PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Chris: On the whole I’d say yes. Gagner’s a very, very smart player and he’s still very young; additionally he doesn’t seem shy about venturing into puck battles. He has his horrible miscues, and sometimes I think the effort lags a little bit, but I’m optimisitic.

Most of Gagner's faults are related to Experience and physical strengths. Both thing that will come in the next 2/3 years.

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#39 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 05:47PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

Oh, I agree. It's important to know that they're there, but it's just as important to recognize Gagner's age.

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#40 Chris
March 13 2009, 06:08PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I've noticed the accuracy of Gagner's passing drops when he is on the rush... drops a lot. Gagner also lacks a powerful shot- Not attributes of a quality offensive first line center. Will age address these concerns? I'm not sure. I see Gagner emerging as a PP specialist and quality playmaking #2 center... If Gagner's the best center you got... I don't think your team will win many cups.

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#41 Jonathan Willis
March 13 2009, 06:14PM
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@ Chris:

Gagner seems likely to always be more of a playmaker than a shooter, but he's crafty and the fact that he charges the net is really encouraging. Time will tell of course, since I'm undoubtedly predisposed to optimism.

The journey should be fun.

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#42 David S
March 13 2009, 08:36PM
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swany wrote:

His drive to win will make him a 1st line player that is besides his skill. I have never seen someone as small as Gagner battle for pucks so hard. He never quits. I think Gagner will be a 80-90 point guy if he would start the season like he finishes.

I'm not going so far as to make a prediction like that, but in my estimation Sam is definitely special. In fact, it seems his level of competitiveness has increased since last year. And his "never quit" attitude? Off the charts.

He's still growing into his adult body. My guess is he'll be 15 or twenty pounds to the good next year. If Sam's getting casual fans excited, imagine how a guy like MacT must be feeling. The kid's gonna be good. Real good.

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#43 Ogden Brother
March 13 2009, 09:05PM
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With a .6PPG season at 18 odds are he'll put up better #'s at 28.

The only guy I can think of that peaked out offensively in his teens was Daigle (baring injury) everyone else that broke in before 20 (that I can think of) improved dramitically into his early/mid 20's.

History is certainly on our/Sam's side.

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#44 Jonathan Willis
March 14 2009, 02:48AM
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For the numbers on Gagner, I wrote this over on my other site.

Suffice to say they're encouraging.

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