Monday, July 30, 2012

The Alex Semin Contract(s)

For the 3rd time in three seasons, Alexander Semin has signed a one year contract, this time with the Carolina Hurricanes for $7M. The last two seasons with Washington he earned $6.7M and $6M. He is now 28 years old, where peak performance tends to occur around age 27. Over the last 4 seasons he has scored 271 PTS in 277 GP. Yet for whatever reason, he can't seem to get himself a long term contract, the monetary security that elite talent tends to covet. My assumption is that he wants to make at least $6M per season, and at that price nobody will give him more than one year. So instead of taking a 5 year $25M deal like Mike Ribeiro, he's knocking off one year contracts at the wage he wants to be paid. His work ethic is questionable, and he's considered a high risk to bolt back to Russia any given season.

Just how common is it for elite point producers to repeatedly sign one year contracts throughout their years of prime production? It is very rare, becoming more common closer to the end of careers. My own database does not include every contract ever signed, but does include the pool of active contracts. If you look at all the forwards in the NHL who signed their current contracts from age 26-29 who averaged between 60-90 PTS per 82 GP over the last 4 seasons, what do you see?

age contract total
Player  Team signed term money cap hit
Ilya Kovalchuk NJD 27 15   $100,000,000 $6,666,667
Zach Parise MIN 28 13 $98,000,000 $7,538,461
Vincent Lecavalier TBL 29 11 $85,000,000 $7,727,273
Henrik Zetterberg DET 29 12 $73,000,000 $6,083,333
Rick Nash NYR 26 8 $62,400,000 $7,800,000
Jeff Carter LAK 26 11 $58,000,000 $5,272,727
Mikko Koivu MIN 28 7 $47,250,000 $6,750,000
Pavel Datsyuk DET 29 7 $46,900,000 $6,700,000
Dany Heatley MIN 27 6 $45,000,000 $7,500,000
Marian Gaborik NYR 27 5 $37,500,000 $7,500,000
Martin Erat NSH 27 7 $31,500,000 $4,500,000
Ryan Kesler VAN 26 6 $30,000,000 $5,000,000
Mike Cammalleri CGY 27 5 $30,000,000 $6,000,000
Martin Havlat SJS 28 6 $30,000,000 $5,000,000
Jason Pominville BUF 27 5 $26,500,000 $5,300,000
Mike Ribeiro WSH 28 5 $25,000,000 $5,000,000
Joe Pavelski SJS 26 4 $16,000,000 $4,000,000
David Krejci BOS 26 3 $15,750,000 $5,250,000
Ales Hemsky EDM 29 2 $10,000,000 $5,000,000
Alexander Semin CAR 28 1 $7,000,000 $7,000,000

75% of those contracts are at least 5 years long. Players signing their contracts in their peak production years tend to seek the longest term contracts possible while their value is also at its peak. That's how you maximize career earnings. There are more contracts over 10 years long than there are under 5 years. As Semin closes in on age 30 and his skills begin to diminish (some would argue that diminishment process has already begun), the amount of money he can get on a one year contract will fall considerably. Even Mikhail Grabovski scored a 5 year $27M contract.

It would be interesting to know what the best long term offer was on the table for Semin. He has a unique offensive skill set that should be in greater demand that what we've seen. $7M is a substantial sum, arguably more than he's worth for one year of work. However, if he doesn't suck it up and sign a long term contract soon, he's going to find that peak earnings window shut. It would also be interesting to see what kind of contract offers he has from the KHL. It's entirely plausible that he'll get a nice bounty whenever he decides to go back to Russia; such that he's willing to max out one year contracts in the world's best league during his prime years. Those Russian oligarchs need to wash their dirty money somewhere.

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