Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Another Hometown Deal

Part of the Wings success is undoubtedly the value they get on some of their contracts. Hank Zetterberg for 2.65M? That's gotta be one of the bigger steals in the league. Other guys are cheap because they're young (Filppula for 733K) or they're just much, much better than when they signed the contract in the first place (Cleary, 663K). But a lot of Wings deals come at hometown discounts which dramatically help the Wings squeeze all the talent they can out of the same budget as everyone else in the league.

Holmstrom for 2.25M, which he signed at the tail end of his best offensive season ever. Chelios, still one of the best defensive d-men in the league (as he showed when called upon in last year's playoffs) for 1.15M (includes bonuses). Lidstrom's old deal of 7.6M was considered a slight discount, when his value was being estimated at 8M. His new deal, a very slight cut to 7.45M, is a much bigger bargain, where he could have reasonably hit the market and asked for the league max, ~10M.

And now another, Osgood for 1.5M/yr for 3 years. First, Big Al sums up why bringing Osgood back for three years is a smart move for the Wings, over at The Wayne Fontes Experience.
...keeping Osgood gives long time prospect Jimmy Howard a safety net, and the ability to ease his way into the lineup over the next 2-3 years as the full-time net minder. (If he's capable, that question is still not answered) It's also good for the Wings' locker room, as Osgood is thrilled to stay in the D, doesn't matter if it's as a starter or backup. I'm sure he'll retire a Red Wing.
Right on the nose. But as good as this is for the Wings in terms of Osgood's ability to play and mentor Howard, it's even better because of the value they get on his deal. Currently Osgood is, in both GAA and SV%, the best goalie in the league. I'm no mathematician, but 1.5M is a bit less than he could have gotten. He wouldn't command 6M or anything, but I think the guy could have gotten 3 or 4 over the same length from a couple of teams this summer.

This is huge not because of next year, when the Wings will enjoy pretty considerable salary room, especially if the cap continues to rise (I have no idea whether that's likely or not). The critical year will be the season after next, 09-10. That will be the first year of presumably a pretty big contract for Hank Zetterberg. Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, will all still be under contract as well. Could be a tight situation. But we can now be sure that the Wings will at leasts be keeping goalie expenses low that year - Howard will presumably still be on a sub-1M rookie deal, and Osgood for just 1.5M, without a sacrificing talent (assuming Howard progresses and Osgood doesn't precipitously decline...).

To me that's the best and most critical part of Osgood's deal - we probably could have fished around for a goalie of his caliber and gotten one if we needed to do so this offseason. But he offers what a run of the mill UFA can't (or rather, won't): huge value that will help the team compete in the long run.

Edit: Matt over at OTW basically already said all of this. Nice work Matt!