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Goal Line Report

Dangerous in the NHL: Goaltenders and Long Term Contracts?

After seeing what the the Philadelphia Flyers did last week, I would have to say yes.

Have NHL general managers not learned anything when it comes to signing goaltenders to ridiculous contracts? Do they not know that often, it is a very bad idea to do so due to things that could happen that are out of their control?

It would appear not since Flyers’ Gm Paul Holmgren went out and signed UFA goaltender Illya Bryzgalov to a 9-year deal. While the Flyers’ may like that they have a potential franchise netminder on their hands, there are a few examples where signing a goaltender to a long-term contract has not worked out as planned.

The first and most obvious example is New York Islanders’ goaltender Rick DiPietro. Back in September of 2006, Islanders’ general manager signed DiPietro to a then oustounding 15-year deal worth $67.5 million.

In return, the Islanders really have not received anything back from DiPietro accept injuries. DiPietro has yet to play a full season since signing the long-term deal and has also yet to return to the form that got him into the NHL in the first place. Overall, it has been a no-win situation for either DiPietro or the Islanders as a whole.

Another good example is the contract of Vancouver Canucks’ netminder Roberto Luongo. In September of 2009, Luongo signed a 12-year extension with the Canucks and at the time, it seemed like a smart move since Luongo had been putting up steady numbers and would more than likely keep up his end of the bargain.

While Luongo has not been terrible since signing the extension, he has not delivered the Canucks a Cup yet. He had a chance to do so this season but struggled mightily in Games 3, 4 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final when the team needed him the most.

So, going back to Bryzgalov, why did the Flyers take a chance on this Russian netminder for 9 years at $51 million? Yes, Bryzgalov is certainly more than a solid goaltender but is he someone to build your franchise around?

We and the Flyers will find out in a few months.

What do you folks think?

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: illya+bryzgalov, new+york+islanders, philadelphia+flyers, rick+dipietro, roberto+luongo, vancouver+canucks

Comments

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Also see Jean-Sebastien Giguere and that was only a 5 year contract.

Personally, I though 4 or 5 years at $5M for Bryzgalov was fair if not generous.  What the Flyers gave him is insane.

Posted by HockeyAnalysis on 06/29/11 at 02:07 PM ET

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I find it interesting that Luongo’s contract is always brought up in these circumstances…

Stanley Cup Finals? Yup, not great games 3, 4, and 6 (although most analysts after 3 and 4 were looking to the TEAM as the problem, and that the goalie was fairly irrelevant—injuries catching up/etc.). I guess we can conveniently forget the two shutouts in the finals too…

But, all in all, Luongo’s contract is probably about where it should be. Is he a top 10 goalie in the NHL? Statistics, Vezina nominations, and general analysis would say easily yes. How much is he paid? As the 10th best goalie in the NHL (http://www.capgeek.com/leaders.php?type=CAP_HIT&position=G&limit=25) (note that this list is missing Bryzgalov’s deal).

Is it long for a contract? Sure. But that’s how you bring cap hits down. The player gets a big pile of cash at the start (from teams that can afford it—this is going to be an issue over the long term with small v. big markets), in exchange for wink-wink-nudge-nudge “retiring” when there are 4 years left on the contract.

And if the player gets terrible? Well, the Canucks have already paid the player cash, which means that his cap hit will end up higher then his actually salary in the later years of the contract. At which point, you trade them to teams that need to reach the cap floor, because they *love* these kinds of contracts.

Complicated, I know, but fans of big market teams should start wrapping their heads around this kind of thinking—it is how winning teams are going to be built.

Posted by Rob from Toronto on 06/29/11 at 02:33 PM ET

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I would never, ever, ever sign ANY goalie for more than four of five years at a time—ideally two or three. And probably not more than $5 million per, ideally more like $3.5 million. The reason? There’s more risk with goalies than any other position.

You can give ridiculous money and term to a guy like Scott Gomez or Chris Drury or Brian Campbell, and you’ll regret it—but at least those guys can still contribute as everyday players, and are supported by other players on the roster. There are 17 other skaters than can help pick up the slack.

But if you have a goaltender not living up to his contract, you’re screwed. Sinking $7 million into a second-line forward is bad, but sinking $5.5 million into a backup goaltender who isn’t even good enough to play regularly? Absolute disaster.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 06/29/11 at 02:44 PM ET

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I sincerely doubt that Holmgren, or Snow, really thought they were signing a goalie for the actual contract term. Neither do I believe that the contracts signed by Richards and Carter were about term. The contracts are about dollar value. Term is about hedging your bets regarding the cap and salary distribution and making sure you land your catch in the boat.

Posted by Shaun on 06/29/11 at 02:45 PM ET

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Another good example is the contract of Vancouver Canucks’ netminder Roberto Luongo. In September of 2009, Luongo signed a 12-year extension with the Canucks and at the time, it seemed like a smart move since Luongo had been putting up steady numbers and would more than likely keep up his end of the bargain.

While Luongo has not been terrible since signing the extension, he has not delivered the Canucks a Cup yet. He had a chance to do so this season but struggled mightily in Games 3, 4 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final when the team needed him the most.

It IS a good deal.  He DOES keep up his end of the bargain.

But the second paragraph makes you sound like you don’t understand goaltending, and the team’s importance in a team game.  He did not “struggle mightily” in Games 3 , 4, and 6.  In the first two, his team had better first periods than the Bruins, and the rest of his team did not help on much of it.

So sick of critiques that make Luongo the reason for failures, but not the guy that gets any praise.  They don’t make it to Game 7 in the Final without him, he had a fantastic season that got a Vezina nod this year, and the “deliver a Cup” thing will come.

You do know he was in the first year of that deal right?  We have Top 3 goaltending for years to come at a reasonable price.

That’s a GOOD thing.  Thanks for not calling for a trade like some of the idiots in my own fanbase that seem to think a guy with 35 games experience is the obvious choice over the 2nd best goalie in save % since they started keeping the stat ( behind only Brodeur )

But yeah, the blaming of the goalie only for losses is silly. The Canucks scored 3 goals in those losses.  I think they gave up almost that many on the suddenly and inept PP. THAT part of the team’s success not being good was a bigger reason for the loss of the series than Luongo.

Posted by vancitydan on 06/29/11 at 03:13 PM ET

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I don’t necessarily disagree with all of this, but it’s a strange post to read from a Rangers blog, considering Lundqvist is one of the few goalies making buckets that earns his keep.

Posted by steviesteve on 06/29/11 at 03:52 PM ET

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About Goal Line Report

Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.

Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.

For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.