On June 10, 2013, the Nashville Predators locked up Roman Josi to a seven-year, $28-million contract paying him $4-million a year. He was 23 years old at the time and the deal paid him 6.22 per cent of the ceiling at signing.
At the time, Josi was indeed considered a very good young defenceman, but he only had put up 34 points in 100 games.
It turns out that the deal was an absolute steal and one that is now considered one of the best in the league. Josi has is up to 292 points in 481 games playing as a top-pairing defender for the Predators. He has three seasons of 49+ points including a 61 point campaign in 2015-2016.
On April 17, 2015, the Dallas Stars locked up John Klingberg to a seven-year, $29.75-million contract paying him $4.25-million a year. He was 22 years old at the time and the deal paid him 6.16 per cent of the ceiling at signing.
Klingberg had just wrapped up his first NHL season when the Stars signed him to the long-term deal and much like Josi, he has become a very cheap and very good NHL defenceman.
That first season saw Klingberg put up an impressive 40 points in only 60 games. He’s gone on to have 58, 49 and 67 point campaigns since playing in 303 total games.
At 23 years old, Darnell Nurse is due for his first non-entry-level contract in the NHL.
This past season, Nurse put up a strong 26 points in 82 games — doubling and then some his point totals from his first two years.
Before we get into some more nitty-gritty, let’s take an analytical approach to Nurse’s contract year, vs. the contract years of Josi and Klingberg thanks to Corsica.
On with it!
What we can see is that there are certainly some similarities to Josi and Nurse’s contract years. Nurse’s expected goal differential per hour is significantly higher than Josi’s, while lower than Klingberg.
In the past three years, both Josi and Klingberg have gone on to have seasons posting numbers in the top 10 of scoring by defencemen.
Josi and Klingberg were never offensive weapons in their pre-NHL days. Both struggled to put up any significant numbers whereas Darnell Nurse had offensive seasons that saw him put up 41 and 50 point seasons in the OHL.
This season we saw Nurse’s game mature before our eyes. He wasn’t shying away from playing an offensive game, using his speed and size to create lanes and drive into the offensive zone.
He began to use his shot more, scoring some nice goals this year and displaying more offensive creativity.
Based on his play from last year, I think it is fair to say he is finally becoming comfortable at the NHL level. He may not go on to score 67 points in a season like Klingberg has, but I think it is fair to say he could be a consistent 40-point defenceman in the NHL.
In my eyes, he is certainly worth a long-term, low-salary contract like Josi and Klingberg.
If he were to sign a deal at say, 6.2 per cent of the ceiling, he would be looking at a deal worth $4.65-million — not far off what Josi and Klingberg make per season.
If I were Peter Chiarelli, I would push for a long-term deal at the aforementioned number.