I don't think I'm being outlandish when I say the single most important thing on Ron Hextall's agenda this summer is locking up Brayden Schenn with a long-term contract. Schenner will turn 25 this summer, and the former 5th overall pick will be coming off a 2 year/$5 million contract.
We know he's obviously due for a raise. But how big of a raise is he actually due? Double what he was making? Will he command more? Will he command less? Let's take a look. There are two big things to keep in mind when talking about Schenn's upcoming contract.
Thing One: The NHL's RFA Compensation Rule
If you're new to hockey, the Restricted Free Agent tag means two things. First, it means the Flyers have a chance to match any contract that Schenn is offered by another team. And second, if they don't match and some other team steals Baby Schenn from Philly, that team must send back picks to compensate the Flyers.
I think it's ridiculous to think that Schenn could be had for less than $3.6 million per year. He's a first-line winger who contributes on the power play, plays a very strong physical game, and probably could contribute on the penalty kill more if it was asked of him.
I also think it's ridiculous to think he would command more than $7.3 million. He can't really create for himself at an elite level and he's never scored 30 goals or 60 points.
So, if some other team were to sign Schenn to an offer sheet that Hextall did not match, we'd be getting at least a first and a third back (plus maybe an additional second if he really gets paid).
Thing Two: Comparable Players And What They Make
"Top line winger" can mean a lot of things in the NHL. It could mean Patrick Kane or Alex Ovechkin, who combine to make north of $20 million per year. It could mean Daniel Sedin or Patrick Marleau, who make $7 million and $6.7 million respectively but are decidedly on the downslope of their careers, It could also mean a whole host of young guns, like these guys (numbers per General Fanager):
- Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues (age 24) - $7.5 million average annual value
- Jordan Eberle, Oilers (age 25) - $6 million
- Brandon Saad, Blue Jackets (age 23) - $6 million
- Taylor Hall, Oilers (age 24) - $6 million
- Matt Duchene, Avalanche (age 25) - $6 million
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (age 23) - $6 million
- Tyler Seguin, Stars (age 24) - $5.75 million *this is the most team-friendly contract in the league
- Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes (age 23) - $5.725 million
- Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (age 23) - $5.571 million
- Jamie Benn, Stars (age 26) - $5.25 million *nevermind, this is the most team-friendly contract in the league
- Evander Kane, Sabres (age 24) - $5.25 million
- Gustav Nyquist, Red Wings (age 26) - $4.75 million
- Jake Voracek, Flyers (age 26) - $4.25 million *note: this contract expires this summer and he will get bumped up to a cap hit of $8.25 million starting next season
- James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (age 26) - $4.25 million
- Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (age 26) - $4.1 million
- Nick Bjugstad, Panthers (age 23) - $4.1 million
- David Perron, Ducks (age 27) - $3.812 million
- Matt Beleskey, Bruins (age 27) - $3.8 million
- Mikkel Boedker, Coyotes (age 26) - $3.75 million
- Jakob Silfverberg, Ducks (age 25) - $3.75 million
- Brendan Gallagher, Canadiens (age 23) - $3.75 million
- Marcus Johansson, Capitals (age 25) - $3.75 million
- Mark Stone, Senators (age 23) - $3.5 million
- Reilly Smith, Panthers (age 25) - $3.425 million
- Ondrej Palat, Lightning (age 25) - $3.333 million
- Tyler Johnson, Lightning (age 25) - $3.333 million
Now you can take some of these with a grain of salt because a bunch of these guys, like Voracek, are due for pretty hefty raised in the coming months. You can also take the Oilers guys with a whole shaker full of salt because I think the only contract negotiations they have in Edmonton are "You are a former first overall pick so here is six million dollars."
But you can follow the trend, and I think it's fair to say that Brayden Schenn belongs somewhere in the middle of this group. If I'm Schenn's agent, I'm pointing to the shitheads in Edmonton, Saad, and Skinner. I'm shooting for upwards of $5 million and I'm going to try to convince the Flyers that Schenn is primed for a jump to the Seguin/Benn level of making his contract look like a steal.
And if I'm Ron Hextall, I'm telling Schenn's agent to go fuck himself. Look at the Oilers, and the Avalanche, and even at (gulp) Jake Voracek. Overpaying for a winger can be crippling, and Schenn hasn't proven that he's an elite player yet. I'd be shooting for something like what JvR and Beleskey make (call it $4 million as a starting point for negotiations on this side).
Realistically, if we're getting a salary somewhere near $4 million, it's going to be a short-term, 2-year deal.
But, and this is a big but, if Hexy and his team envision Schenn making that Benn/Seguin jump, I'm fine with a long-term deal for big money. In a perfect world, Schenn would sign Sean Couturier's 6 year/$4.3 million AAV deal. That's the lowest I can see the number being, but I don't think that's happening. The ceiling, at least in my mind, would be Saad's 6 year/$6 million AAV deal. That deal would certainly make me uneasy, but my faith in Ron Hextall is unwavering.
I am IN on bringing Baby Schenn back to Philly for the long haul, and I trust Hexy to make sure the deal comes in at a cap number that we can all be happy with.