As of writing, Daniel Alfredsson remains unsigned by the Ottawa Senators. At midnight, other NHL teams became permitted to call and start whispering sweet nothings about the dollars they'll spend and the Stanley Cups he'll win. Some are reporting that Alfredsson will receive offers from other teams, while some are gloating about it.
At the end of the day, Alfredsson will almost certainly re-sign in Ottawa and people will almost certainly be fine with the contract. Here's why.
If he wanted to leave, he would have done so already
Alfredsson has had many opportunities to leave. At the trade deadline over the past few years, speculation was rampant that the Senators might try to trade Alfredsson so as to get some assets for a man on the verge of retirement. However, as trade deadlines came and passed, Alfredsson remained with the team. Both he and GM Bryan Murray would indicate that there was never any question that Alfie would remain a Senator, that the decision was his to make and he planned on staying with Ottawa permanently.
There's really no reason for Alfredsson to leave. Not only has he spent his career here and become the face of the franchise, but most importantly, a move would uproot his family. His rather large family is quite settled into the community, and he's made it clear on a number of occasions that family is the most important thing in his life. He already complains that he does not get to see his family often enough, and moving would only make that more difficult.
Furthermore, although a Stanley Cup ring would be a nice thing to add to his resume, it's something that is simply too unreliable to predict. Given that the best NHL team only wins the Stanley Cup 22% of the time and it's far too early to know who the best NHL team next season will be, the odds of Alfredsson winning the Cup with another team are hopelessly small. Just this year we saw Jarome Iginla and Jaromir Jagr get traded to contenders at the trade deadline only to walk out of the playoffs empty handed. Switching teams in hopes of winning the Cup is a crapshoot, and Alfie no doubt recognizes this.
Since he's likely staying, what should his contract be?
Determining a figure for Alfredsson's contract is at once difficult and easy. It's difficult because there are very few players of his calibre who have signed deals at 40 years old, but it's also easy because it is completely irrelevant to the salary cap. Regardless of what Alfredsson makes, its only relevance is to the elusive self-imposed cap demanded by owner Eugene Melnyk.
Alfredsson is in the final year of a 4 year contract which paid an average of $4,875,000 per year. His actual salary this past year, however, was $1M. Over his last two seasons, he's put up 85 points in 122 games, or a 0.70 point per game average. His 37 goals gives him a .30 point per game average. His time-on-ice average the past two seasons is 19:09, including a healthy dose of both PK and PP time.
Given these stats, who are his comparables?
#13 / Left Wing / Dallas Stars
May 08, 1972
Ray Whitney was 40 years old last summer when he signed a 2-year deal worth $9M, or $4.5M/year. In his previous two seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes prior to signing the deal (he was on a $3M/year deal at the time), Whitney had 134 points in 157 games, or an impressive 0.85 points per game average. He scored 41 goals for a 0.26 goals per game average. His time-on-ice average over those two years was 19:01, leading his team in PP time on ice but having almost no SH time on ice.
#8 / Right Wing / Anaheim Ducks
Jul 03, 1970
The Finnish Flash, currently 42 years old, has made an average of $4.25M over the past two seasons on one year contracts. In the years prior to signing each contract, he amassed 146 points in 155 games. That's 0.94 points per game, and his 57 goals gave him a 0.38 goals per game average. He averaged 17:56 time-on-ice during those years, and like Whitney, saw plenty of PP time but very little PK time.
#68 / Right Wing / Boston Bruins
Feb 15, 1972
Given that Jagr signed his $3.3M deal with the Flyers after a lengthy stint in Europe, I'll only consider his more recent $4.5M deal with Dallas. When he signed that deal as a 40 year old, he came off a 54 point campaign, or a 0.74 point per game pace. He had 19 goals, good for 0.26 goals per game. He averaged 16:20 time on ice, and like the other two, he saw a lot of powerplay time but almost no time short-handed.
These three players are about the best comparables you'll find for Alfredsson. Two of them are genuine star players, like Alfie, and all three are still extremely productive players in their forties. It appears the standard contract for these 40+ year old point producing forwards is a $4.5M/year deal, which is the dollar figure for all three. Whitney got a two year contract while both Selanne and Jagr only took one year deals.
The key difference between them is that Alfredsson is the only one who is leaned on in a defensive role, playing far more time shorthanded than the others while getting less PP time. These additional defensive duties, plus his relatively meager salary this past year, likely warrant a pay increase over Jagr and Whitney. That being said, Selanne has been far more productive on the scoresheet than Alfredsson, and he's also stuck to one-year deals at $4M and $4.5M, no doubt at a hometown discount.
Looking at all of these factors, the market suggests a one or two year deal at around $4.5M per year, and that's likely what we'll see Alfredsson sign in the next few days.