When the Shea Weber news was released last week, two key signings were virtually swept under the rug in the process. The Predators signed restricted free agent forwards Colin Wilson and Sergei Kostitsyn to $6 million contracts over two and three years, respectively.
As we take a deeper look, GM David Poile was able to get both Wilson and Kostitsyn signed to fair contracts that could be considered bargains by NHL standards.
Poile was able to work out a multi-year contract with Kostitsyn that is low-risk. Two years for Kostitsyn’s services without overpaying is a good commitment. Four years would have been too much. Though Kostitsyn got a raise of $500,000 after a seven-point decline in production from 2010-11, the 25-year-old probably would have made more coin on the open market if he weren’t a RFA.
Let’s compare Kostitsyn’s contract to a few free agents that were signed this month:
- Alexander Semin, Hurricanes (UFA) – 1 year, $7 million
- Jiri Hudler, Flames (UFA) – 4 years, $16 million
- Jakub Voracek, Flyers (RFA) – 4 years, $17 million
Kostitsyn is not the same player as Semin and doesn’t have the goal-scoring track record. But, is Semin really worth $4 million more a season than Kostitsyn? Or, for this argument, is Kostitsyn really worth $4 million less a season than Semin? Semin’s points-per-game total over the last two years is 0.76, compared to Kostitsyn’s 0.62.
Kostitsyn is a better comparable to Hudler, and the Predators winger has had a better two-year stretch than the former Red Wing who got an absurd contract from Calgary. Hudler’s PPG total over the last two years is 0.52, and he’s wildly inconsistent. When you compare Kostitsyn’s contract to Hudler’s, Poile has to be smiling.
Of these three players, Voracek may be the most comparable to Kostitsyn. Voracek may have a higher ceiling than Kostitsyn, but his numbers in Columbus and Philadelphia (0.60 PPG over the last two years) haven’t reflected that. Judging against Voracek’s $4.25 million cap number, Kostitsyn’s $3 million a year looks like a bargain.
The sky-high potential Wilson possesses makes this contract look like gold for Poile. Earlier this summer, Jacob Underwood suggested the Predators should give Wilson a long-term deal that would look like a bargain by the third year, similar to how Philadelphia extended youngster James van Riemsdyk to a six-year contract. I think this contract for the 2008 first-round pick ($1.5 million in 2012-13; $2 million in 2013-14; $2.5 million in 2014-15) will suffice.
The Predators expect Wilson to have his breakout season here in 2012-13, which would probably equate to at least a 40- or 50-point campaign. After an impressive playoff bounce-back, Wilson should start on one of the team’s top two lines come October. Even if his breakout campaign waits a year, a 50-point output from Wilson for a salary of $2 million would be a great buy – especially with NHL contracts on an uptick.
Hypothetically, let’s say Wilson reaches the 50-point plateau in 2013-14 (which, to Nashville, is as valuable as a 60- or 70-point player elsewhere). Wilson will earn $2 million at that time. The average salary for 50-point forwards in 2011-12, who weren’t on their entry-level contract, was $4.9 million.
Another bonus for the Predators: since Wilson is 22 years old, the three-year deal will keep him in his RFA years when the pact expires (unless there’s an unexpected change in the new CBA).
All in all, Poile made good with these two contracts for two players that will likely skate in the team’s top-six this season and next.
It was a tough start to the off-season for the Predators, losing Ryan Suter, Alexander Radulov and fan-favorite Jordin Tootoo. When you combine the three signings last week with the re-signing of deadline pickups Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad, so far it hasn’t been all that bad of a summer for Nashville.