Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Zdeno Chara and Big Asset Management

Zdeno Chara and the Senators recently agreed on a 2-year deal as reported by

Chara will make $4.6mil next season and $4.9mil in the season after that.

Let�s compare him to the other defensemen making similar dough (Figures shown are for next season), and their production the past 2 seasons...

Chara ($4.60mil): 79 16-25-41 +33 & 74 9-30-39 +29
Aucoin ($4.25mil): 81 13-31-44 +29 & 73 8-27-35 -5
McCabe ($4.45mil): 75 16-37-53 +22 & 75 6-18-24 +9
Redden ($4.70mil): 81 17-26-43 +21 & 76 10-35-45 +23
Gonchar($5.50mil): 71 11-47-58 -14 & 82 18-49-67 +13

In terms of points and +/- production, Chara fits in nicely with the other defensemen in this tier. At the same time, I figured a Norris Trophy candidate like Chara would have made at least $5million next season, given how Gonchar was awarded $5.5mil and Niedermayer was offered $7mil/season by the Devils. Let�s face it, Chara offers the size and physical aspect that the other defenders here clearly cannot offer.

Why would Chara settle for less than $5mil?

What�s funny, at least to me, is that the Senators have 2 high-quality defensemen in Redden and Chara for just under $10mil next season, and the Blues are stuck with paying ONE defenseman $10mil next season: Chris Pronger.

The problem for the Blues is that their hands were somewhat tied. They had to offer/qualify Pronger at least $9.5mil in order to keep his rights.

They could have easily said �No, you aren�t worth that much money and we�ll go for cheaper options, or you�ll need to take a pay cut�

Would Pronger make $10mil on the open market? Clearly, he wouldn�t get $10mil in these conditions.

The Blues, however, know that Pronger would have told Larry Pleau to take his pay cut and shove it. Pronger would get a nice contract elsewhere, and would probably not want to play with the Blues, citing a very damaged ego.

Has your employer ever asked you to take a pay cut? Even if you are overpaid (anyone in sales and marketing), would you not give your employer a big middle finger in response? Even if you did take a pay cut, you�d likely be spending your working time playing Minesweeper or polishing off your resume and faxing it to other companies.

So, either the Blues bite the bullet and sign Pronger back at $9.5mil (They signed for $10mil, which seems odd to me), or they pretty much lose him.
With MacInnis likely gone to a career ending injury, the Blues weren�t willing to lose both of their keystones on the blueline. Without Pronger, (And Demitra) the Blues would be pretty much cooked.


Big Dan is on a roll as of late. He was discussing the Islanders and how they have basically had a very poor team over Milbury�s tenure. Why is that?

His post here lists many of the deals that Milbury has made over the years. The man (Milbury, not Dan) clearly loses most of his trades, and the quality of his organizational depth has eroded over the years.

For all of the great drafting the Islanders have done, or the assets the Islanders have had, Milbury has managed to manage them poorly and leave himself with a team that is not very competitive and has some big dead-weight contracts (Much like Larry Pleau and the Blues).

To me, the biggest reason for the Islanders lack of real success has been Milbury�s clear lack of direction in running his franchise over the years.

One day, they want to be competitive, so they throw huge bucks at Peca and Yashin. The next day, they cut payroll, and so on. The Islanders have switched directions numerous times and they rebuild their own team before it�s even built�s mind boggling.

The best example was his Luongo trade...he basically traded a young franchise goalie to the Panthers (Plus Jokinen) for two inconsistent non-impact offensive wingers (Kvasha and Parrish). Milbury then drafted an inferior goalie prospect, Rick DiPietro, and missed out on Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik.

Imagine the Islanders with Gaborik or Heatley, Jokinen, AND Luongo instead of DiPietro and Kvasha/Parrish. Yeah, I know Jokinen may never have flourished without Keenan�s prodding, but it�s not as if Kvasha has done any better than the �old� Jokinen ever did.

The real model franchises in the NHL are those teams that have a true direction, and STICK WITH IT.

Look at the New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks.

The Devils have drafted well and produced most of their talent from within. The Devils set a specific payroll structure to which they will not deviate (Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur get XXX and everyone else goes below).
They don�t need to sign expensive free agents because they have cheaper options in-house. They stick with their plan and don�t suddenly shift directions overnight, even when they miss the playoffs.

The Sharks, under Dean Lombardi, attempted to mimic the Devils structure (So much so that Lombardi asked Devils GM Fat Lou for advice), so they started on a long-term plan and the results have left the Sharks with a roster of talented, young, and fairly inexpensive players.

The Canucks, under Brian Burke (Lou Lam was his former coach), switched to this long-term philosophy and the Canucks are now a much better off than they were under the Keenan regime. Most of the Canucks core players are signed to long-term deals that are reasonable to both the team and player, and slightly under �market� value.

Formula For Success:
Solid Payroll Structure + Good Drafting + Good Player Development + Good-Value Free Agents + Not Losing Trades + A team-wide Organizational Philosophy + Sticking WITH THE DAMN PLAN = A Strong Franchise.

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