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Silver Nuggets: Bridge Contracts for Zibanejad and Stone

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Some thoughts about the wisdom of bridge contracts, plus all the links you need for your weekend

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If you were living under a rock for the last couple days, here's some big news: Mika Zibanejad was extended for two years, and Mark Stone was extended for three years. Zibanejad's has a cap hit of $2.625-million, while Stone's is $3.5-million. Both are "bridge contracts", wherein a promising young player gets a couple years to prove themselves after their entry-level contract (ELC) expires before signing a contract that takes them into their UFA years.

The Edmonton Oilers are probably the most famous example for foregoing the ELC. Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each signed 7-year, $6-million-per-year contracts out of their ELCs, while Jordan Eberle signed a six-year contract at the same cap hit. For Edmonton, some might debate the value of the Eberle extension, but likely all three will turn out to be steals. The only problem is that each player will hit UFA status around age 28, when they could command another seven-year contract through their declining years. Still, the Oilers are better off paying them $6-million through the prime of their careers, rather than the money each could actually demand. One could look at Kyle Turris as another great example, signed to a five-year extension at a $3.5-million cap hit that now looks like an extreme bargain. If the Sens had bridged Turris, they'd be paying for it now.

Sometimes teams get burned with the no-bridge idea. Ottawa luckily avoided one when offering Jared Cowen an eight-year contract as an RFA. Cowen only took a four-year, and his play has failed to improve. Being handcuffed to another six years of Cowen would have been very bad for Ottawa. Though Zibanejad and Stone look like sure things, it might be safer to let each have a couple more years to show themselves in the NHL before locking them up long term.

However, teams can get burned by bridge contracts too. The most famous is P.K. Subban, who wanted a long-term deal probably around $5-million per year, but got forced into a two-year contract with a cap hit of $2.875-million. He then proceeded to win the Norris Trophy, then cashed in this past summer at eight-years, $9-million-per-year. Playing hardball with Subban to get a bridge contract definitely hurt his team down the road.

Clearly, there are advantages to both sides, and potential for failure on both sides. Do I like the extensions the Senators signed? Overall, yes. Many fans in Ottawa lament the cash wrapped up in guys like Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, David Legwand, Colin Greening, and Jared Cowen. All of those contracts will be off the books the next time Zibanejad or Stone need an extension. Then there will be money to give these guys. Still, I would've liked to see a longer extension for Stone. He showed last year that he's the team's best winger, and he's likely to still improve. In three years I expect he'll be looking at the Subban level of salary. With Zibanejad, I'm happier with a bridge contract. We still don't know his ceiling, and I don't want the team to pay him like a first-line centre unless he's already played like one consistently. But overall, I'm really happy with those two contracts and the one to Jean-Gabriel Pageau. If Mike Hoffman and yes, even Alex Chiasson can also get on board with cheap, short-term contracts, I'll be very impressed with Murray's work this offseason. Pending the results of a goalie trade.

Sens Links

  • The Sens traded Robin Lehner and David Legwand to Buffalo for the 21st-overall pick. Will the Sens try to package these two to move up? [Silver Seven]
  • Five Questions with Die by the Blade about the Lehner trade [Silver Seven]
  • ERIK KARLSSON WON THE NORRIS TROPHY!!!!!!!!!! [Silver SevenSenators, SensChirp]
  • Your five thoughts for this Friday come courtesy of NKB [Silver Seven]
  • Silver Seven school is in session, this time with B_T looking at the rules about offer sheets [Silver Seven]
  • The NHL Draft runs tonight; here's how to watch and what to look for [Silver Seven]
  • If you want to know who to look for in tonight's drafts, here's a handy rundown of who a lot of mock drafts have the Sens taking 18th overall [Silver Seven]
  • Sens' chief amateur scout Bob Lowes joined the TSN 1200 crew in Florida to talk about the draft [TSN 1200]
  • Alex Quevillon at SenShot looks at potential draft picks from the National Capital Region [SenShot]
  • Guest post on SensChirp by Craig Smith (of Hockey Prospectus, not the Nashville Predators) about players the Sens might take in the draft [SensChirp]
  • Mike Wheeler gives his official guide to the first round of the draft. I think my favourite is the Canadiens' pick. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • Use bikini cowboy with a FanPost draft preview [Silver Seven FanPost]
  • The aforementioned extensions to Stone and Zibanejad [Stone, Zibanejad]
  • Jack Leiper of SenShot looks at the importance of the Stone and Zibanejad extensions (spoiler: they're really important) [SenShot]
  • SensChirp also has some reaction to the signings [SensChirp]
  • Your must-read of the week: Ian Mendes looks at Stone's journey from draft afterthought to Calder nominee [TSN]
  • Also in the news: the Sens' regular season schedule has been released [Silver Seven, Full Schedule]
  • Trevor Shackles of SenShot looks at some notable dates in the Sens' calendar [SenShot]
  • I did a review of what I liked and didn't like (mostly Rob Riggle) about the NHL awards [Silver Seven]
  • The Ottawa Citizen says that Jonathan Pitre was the true star of the NHL Awards [Ottawa Citizen]
  • The Your Say series concludes, with Dave Cameron and Bryan Murray [Cameron, Murray]
  • Shackles wonders why Karlsson doesn't get the credit a two-time Norris winner should [SenShot]
  • Travis Valois adds his voice to the growing crowd upset about the number of bad contracts the Sens have [SenShot]
  • It's too bad Andrew Hammond didn't win last night - I wanted to hear this beautiful speech Joe Boughner wrote for him [Bonk's Mullet]
  • Peter Levi of Eye on the Sens with some thoughts about everything going on in the Sens universe, including a shout-out to Ary! [Eye on the Sens]
  • Puck Prediction with some thoughts on the Sens, Habs, and Bolts. The main point: you can't predict the Sens. [Puck Prediction]

Other Links

  • Another must-read: former Binghamton goalie Mike McKenna with some thoughts on 3-on-3 OT as a goalie, including the (lack of) importance of a puck-moving goalie [InGoal Magazine]
  • Canucks Army with a great read on draft eligible prospect Oliver Kylington, including why some anonymous scouts think he deserves to go higher than most rankings have put him [Canucks Army]
  • The NHL has officially opened the expansion process, asking for formal applications by August 10. Eric Duhatschek looks at the obvious in Las Vegas, and an intriguing option in Québec City [G&M]

Finally, here's Pierre Dorion's media availability yesterday, talking about the extensions, the draft, and laughing off the idea of trading Andrew Hammond.