Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Grebeshkov Contract

Denis Grebeshkov signed a one year deal earlier today for 3.15M (source: capgeek.com). I don't think the Oilers got a particularly good deal, but it's far from a disaster. Earlier this week the guys at Coppernblue did a mock arbitration that concluded with Grebeshkov getting a one year deal for 3.25M, so the Oilers did slightly better than that but I still think they would have been better off going to arbitration. If I was making the Oilers case I would need to begin by demonstrating that young players get more money for signing longer term contracts. If this can be done successfully - which I think it can - then I would try to confine my comparables to good players that got paid once they committed long term or players that haven't yet committed long term at all. That way, in the hearing, the Oilers could emphasize that Grebeshkov is a good young player, much like other good young players, who deserves a mid-money deal based on the term of the contract (1 or 2 years) and players that have had similar deals. These would be my comparables:

John-Michael Liles:
Platform Year: 14-35-49, +5, 18:31 per game
Career Totals: Age 25, 2 full seasons, 176 GP, 10-53-63, -2
Contract after Platform Year: 2 years, 1.325M per year

Joni Pitkanen:
Platform Year: 4-39-43, -25, 24:33 per game
Career Totals: Age 23, 3 full seasons, 206 GP, 25-91-116, +12
Contract after Platform Year: 1 year, 2.4M per year

Jay Bouwmeester:
Platform Year: 5-41-46, +1, 25:29 per game
Career Totals: Age 22, 3 full seasons, 225 GP, 11-71-82, -43
Contract after Platform Year: 2 years, 2.175M per year

Denis Grebeshkov:
Platform Year: 7-32-39, +12, 21:10 per game
Career Totals: Age 25, 2 full seasons, 176 GP, 10-53-63, -2
Contract after Platform Year: ?

Grebeshkov outshines some things here, but lags with other things. He wasn't playing as many minutes (or as tough of minutes, but you'd need to prove that statisitcally in an arbitration hearing and I'm not sure that Quality of Competition would work, but it might) as Bouwmeester or Pitkanen. His scoring totals are the worst of the three. His career +/- is only better than Bouwmeester's. He's older than the group so has less time to improve before his prime but doesn't have any more NHL experience than these other players. I don't think saying any of that is nasty. From there, the team can talk about how they believe in Grebeshkov and that they think he can become the kind of player that these others have become. In fact they're prepared to pay him at the top of this bracket, offering 2.5M per year.

I think it's a good case. Since it's player-elected arbitration, the team can even opt for a two year deal. Should the Oilers win the case (or something close to it, like an award of 2.8M or some such) they'd have Grebeshkov locked up for two years at a good rate and expecting a nice long term deal in the future. You've only compared Grebeshkov to good players and players he's seen got paid in the future on long term deals. You haven't said anything bad about him. If your options are a one-year deal at 3.15M or arbitration, I don't really see the downside of going to arbitration. Could the award have been much worse than 3.15M? The other odd thing is that the hearing isn't for another week or so. Why not continue negotiating a long term deal until the date gets closer? Did the Oilers think the 3.15M was too good of an offer to let it sit? This deal isn't horrible by any stretch. There's a very reasonable chance that Grebeshkov outperforms it. Still, they could have done a lot better.

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