A little over a week ago, we learned from Jim Matheson that Justin Schultz’s camp was looking to the P.K. Subban bridge deal as a possible comparable in conversations with the Oilers, but that an average annual value starting with a “2” wasn’t something that had much appeal to them.
A few days after that, Bob Stauffer speculated that a one-year deal was the most likely route out of the current impasse between player and team.
What happens if we combine those two reports?
The Subban Contract
The two-year bridge deal Subban signed with Montreal is an interesting one because there were some unique circumstances at play. First, it came in a lockout-shortened season. Second, it came after the start of said season; the Habs were already 3-1-0 when Subban agreed to the deal.
Via NHL Numbers, here’s how the deal was structured:
- First year: $2.0 million in salary
- Second year: $3.75 million in salary
Subban’s cap hit was the average of those two numbers, but that doesn’t really capture the essence of the deal. Essentially, Subban played half a year at a number low enough to knock the cap hit down and then played a full season at a dollar figure high enough to satisfy him.
In other words, if the Oilers and Schultz are looking at a one-year deal, I imagine the dollar figure we’re talking about isn’t at a modest $2-something but rather more in the $3.5 million range – a deal based on the second year of the Subban contract. Conveniently enough, that’s a dollar figure in the range of his entry-level salary and bonuses figure.
What Does This Mean for the Oilers?
The contract that we’ve just hypothesized is not a value deal. For a restricted free agent like Schultz, a one-year pact in the $3.5 million range is an overpay based on what the market has given players in similar positions, an overpay based on what Schultz has proven at the NHL level, and an invitation for another overpay a year from now.
However. The organization clearly believes in Schultz, and may decide that a slight overpay on a short-term deal isn’t a problem if it keeps a valuable (and still developing) asset happy. The team did the same with Nikita Nikitin not long ago; there the upside was a stronger left side defence and here the upside is keeping a key player in the fold.
On a one-year deal, I personally think a $3.5 million valuation (or something in the range) is far too steep for the potential reward (which is basically having this same conversation next summer instead of now). If the Oilers are willing to sacrifice money to get something done, at the very least it really ought to be a two-year deal that gives them time to get a definitive read on the player and maybe even the opportunity to get some value out of the contract.
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