The 2019-20 NHL offseason has some of the most talented young RFAs ever. Names like Matthew Tkachuk, Mikko Rantanen, Patrik Laine, Zach Werenski, Charlie McAvoy, Brock Boeser, Kyle Connor, and Brayden Point just to name a few. All these players are established young stars on their respected teams. Showing nothing but improvement year in and year out, with no signs of slowing down. While hockey is arguably the most “team” centered sport, the NHL is still a business and each of these players must look out for themselves.
Charlie McAvoy, Brayden Point, and Zach Werenski Gamble on Future CBA
The NHL TV contract with NBC and NBC Sportsnet comes to an end after the 2021-22 season. The CBA re-opens in 2022 as well, restoring talks between the NHL and NHLPA. The league is trending up. The salary cap has risen every year, and the overall income of the NHL has grown. As the world gets smaller, the game will grow bringing in more players than before. The NHL is a business but that doesn’t mean each individual has to be greedy. Charlie McAvoy, Brayden Point, and Zach Werenski are examples of putting the team first. All recently signed short term, team-friendly, bridge deals that end after the 2021-22 season leaving them as restricted free agents, again.
Before continuing further, what exactly is a bridge deal? A short-term contract sometimes between one to three years in length. The bridge deal allows for players to leave money on the table in the short term so that by the end of the contract they will be making much more. This allows for teams to save money on their young future stars to bring in more seasoned players to help grow and ultimately to win.
For example, The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Werenski to a three-year, $15M contract. Broken down, based on total salary, Werenski will be making $4M in his first two years. Only to begin his third year making a much improved $7M. Two players to look at with similar deals are Charlie McAvoy and Brayden Point. The Boston Bruins were able to lock down the future of their blue line in McAvoy with a three-year, $14.7M contract. Only taking in $3.7M in his first two years. While the Tampa Bay Lightning was able to tie up their third-highest scorer from last year with a three-year, $20.25M contract. Brayden Point came off a record high of 92 points, with 41 goals and 51 assists.
The old saying “high risk equals high reward” is applicable in this situation for these players. These four players have one eye on the present and the other on the future. By the third year of each player’s contract, they will be making the largest amount. Along with any qualifying offer after said third-year it must be a minimum AAV of that year. For example, third-year contracts for the four players would look like this. Charlie McAvoy with $7.3M, Werenski with $7M, Point with $9M, and Boeser with $7.5M. Establishing their AAV to be as high as possible after what most hope will allow for the total success of the team.
So, what’s really the gamble? To start, this kind of deal is beneficial to the franchise in the short term, less money upfront means more to build within other areas. Yet, in the long term it would be beneficial for the individual player if they can prove they still deserve it.
The reason these deals are looked at as a gamble is because of future CBA and TV rights. Both expiring around the same time means the NHL and NHLPA will have a lot to discuss. As long as all goes well by the expiration of the CBA and TV rights, the NHL will be on the rise. The collective bargaining agreement is not easy to understand but it seems like these players have the right idea.
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