The New Nathan Horton

by Ryan

You simply cannot control the market. No matter how much restraint you use in your salary cap construction, there will always be some jobber out there ready to pay through the nose for a “comparable player” in your system.

Two years ago it was Havlat. Last year Larry Quinn told us famously that it was Nathan Horton. This year the jobber hails from Philly, and the player?

Jeff Carter.

Now I know you may think Carter’s deal won’t affect anything the Sabres do this summer, but you are wrong. A quick diagram to show you how it works.

2006-07 Stats
Nathan Horton: 82 games, 62 points (31+31), +15.
2007-08 Salary: $4 million.

Derek Roy: 75 games, 63 points (21+42), +37.
2007-08 Salary: $4 million.

It isn’t an exact science, but the theory that Quinn gave us was that once Horton signed that deal, the Sabres were forced to sign Roy before arbitration because he would have gotten even more than Horton’s contract. Based on last season’s numbers, Roy had a better year because of his +/- and the fact that he scored more points in less games.

If that is how the market works (read: it does), then take this next equation to heart.

2007-08 Stats
Jeff Carter: 82 games, 53 points (29+24), +6.
2008-09 Salary: $5 Million.

Jason Pominville: 82 games, 80 points (27+53), +16.
2008-09 Salary: $1.375 Million

The problem is not this year but next, when Carter’s salary remains the same and Jason’s becomes a question mark. The bar has been set for a 50 point forward, and it pays more than a 60 point forward made last summer.

This is the situation the Sabres face: Jason Pominville’s value is only going to go up, whether he regresses slightly or performs even better next season. His contract is only going to inflate with the market or with his statistics; and therein lies the urgency of the situation.

The fact of the matter is that Jason Pominville needs to be extended before he is taken away by an offer sheet or the market puts him out of our price range. Here we are three days before the start of Free Agency and already his price tag has gone up. How many more max salary contracts will be offered this year, and how many mid range scorers will be given “Carter Money”?

You cannot control the market, but you can control your sphere of influence. With every move, however, that sphere gets just that much smaller.

4 Comments

  1. Chris

    Can I still just blame Marty Havlat?

  2. dave in Rocha

    Just wanted to point out that Offer Sheets aren’t a problem with Pommers. He’s under contract until 6/30/09, then he’ll be an UFA unless the Sabres do something about it first (which i fully expect them to). Offer Sheets are only for RFAs.

  3. Ryan

    Yeah, that was a bit sloppy on my part. I guess the only way that would happen is if they waited until this time next year, then forwarded a qualifying offer. I… I don’t know why I think they would wait that long.

    Thanks for pointing it out, though. I’m glad someone is reading this well enough to find things like that.

  4. Chris

    Pominville is eligible to become a Restricted Free Agent next July unless the Sabres re-sign him before then.

    Pominville, Stafford, Kaleta and Sekera are all entering contract years before hitting restricted free agency.