There is an inside joke between Chris, Larry Quinn and I: it’s all Nathan Horton’s fault.
The basic story behind it is that Chris and I went to see Larry Quinn talk about the new NHL and he basically blamed Nathan Horton’s contract for what it cost to sign Derek Roy. It wasn’t a bad point, but it seemed pretty funny at the time.
A few days ago I was looking through some old posts and found one entitled The New Nathan Horton, which pegged Jeff Carter as the market indicator for Jason Pominville. A quick sample:
If that is how the market works (read: it does), then take this next equation to heart.
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.
Well, as we all know the Sabres took care of that problem by signing Pominville to a five-year contract extension last summer. The numbers: $4.5-5.5 million. Now compared to Carter’s deal the Sabres didn’t do too bad, but his contract clearly played a part in Pominville’s signing.
Of course, here’s what the two players did this season:
Jeff Carter: 82 games, 84 points (46+38), +23.
2009-10 Salary: $5.25 Million.
Jason Pominville: 82 games, 66 points (20+46), -4.
2000-10 Salary: $4.5 Million
Now we all know that Pominville had a down year, and I’m not going to assume that he would have had the same season if not under contract; but it’s interesting to see what happened this season considering the past summer’s events. Carter’s deal and the urgency Sabres management has with UFAs forced their hand, and Pominville struggled in the wake of signing a major deal.
Of course, Pominville only made $1.375 million this season, so perhaps he’s still a steal at that rate. However, we all know better. The hope is that he had an off year and will recover, but it’s certainly something to think about as the playoffs start to move forward. It will be silly season before we know it, and the Sabres have a lot of tough decisions to make.
The Pominvile signing certainly isn’t a bad one. Yet. The same goes with Hecht and Connolly and even Miller. However, the philosophy the Sabres have been working with recently will be tested by this summer’s events and clearly next season’s result. Let’s be honest: they are running out of time to tinker.
If these deals don’t pan out, the Sabres will be out much more than a general manager.