Today the calendar flips to August, and we finally begin to see the end of the long off-season ahead of us. There was a bit more action around the NHL this week to sink our teeth into:
- Samuel Girard signed a long-term contract with Colorado on Wednesday, agreeing to a 7 year, $35M extension. He was set to become a restricted free-agent after next season. Girard may be a step below Thomas Chabot, but this contract will undoubtedly serve as a benchmark for any negotiations between the Ottawa Senators and their star rearguard. One perhaps encouraging sign for Sens fans is that Girard’s deal doesn’t include a single penny in signing bonuses. The team’s reluctance to budge on signing bonuses played at least some role in the failure to re-sign Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson, so being able to point to a long-term contract given to another promising young defenseman can only help management’s case. It’s just a guess, but if the Sens and Chabot wanted to go the long-term route and give him his first big payday, this deal might suggest something in the $7.5x7 range. Of all the issues facing Pierre Dorion in the next twelve months, Chabot’s pending restricted free agency might be the most pressing.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy signed a major extension of his own, agreeing to an 8 year, $76M extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The contract will begin in the 2020-2021 season and will run through his age 33 season. It also includes a full NMC in the years 2 through 5, and a modified NTC in the last three seasons. In other words: this is a big bet on the big Russian. Vasilevskiy has mostly been excellent in his time with Tampa, and this deal doesn’t have the same catastrophic potential as the Carey Price contract, but it would still make me more than a bit uneasy if I was a Bolts fan.
- Paul Fenton was rather abruptly fired as General Manager of the Minnesota Wild. Fenton was only given the one season plus this off-season to prove himself, but it seems that it was more than a few highly controversial roster decisions that did him in. Craig Leipold, who is known as an active owner, has quite a few choice quotes in the NHL article I linked but this one is probably the most interesting to me:/
“He was an assistant general manager really doing scouting. That was his role,” Leipold said of Fenton. “And he was tremendous at that. It was the other portion of being a general manager, the organizational part, the strategic part, the management of people, the hiring and motivating of the departments. When I talk about not being a good fit, that’s what I’m referring to.”
Leipold seems like he might be alluding to the departure of A.C Thomas and Alexandra Mandrycky (who was almost immediately snatched up by the Seattle franchise), two of the most highly respected analytics minds in the league. This is maybe worthy of more thought than I can afford here, but the whole situation is a reminder that being a good scout, or a good player, or whatever, doesn’t necessarily translate to being skilled in a management role. Being a manager, a good manager, is really hard! We often underestimate how hard it really is. Sens fans may not have always agreed on how Bryan Murray handled the player management side of things but I think recent years have shown how steadying an influence he was behind the scenes. That’s what it means to be a good manager.
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