A few weeks back, I wrote a blog post about how the money the New York Rangers gave to Scott Gomez made sense at the time.
I’m not going to go into all the reasons now, but it did make me wonder if there is anyone else in the NHL that could soon disappoint fans with a massive contract.
It didn’t take me long to find one: Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.
Sure sure, he’s a great player, a centre, about to hit his prime, blah blah blah. People said the exact same thing about Scott Gomez before he signed his big deal.
Are there similarities between the two besides their hairlines? Is a team setting themselves up for disaster next summer? Just read below and judge for yourself.
(Note #1: I used Gomez’s numbers before he signed his deal with the Rangers back in 2007, since this article is about people who are about to sign big deals, not what they do after they sign massive cap-crushing deals).
(Note #2: Obviously, this could all change depending on what happens with the new CBA between the owners and the NHLPA. I decided to use this current model until a new one is agreed upon).
Everyone knows about Scott Gomez’s goal-scoring slump last season. A full calendar year without a goal. It’s pretty shameful.
But in all actuality, he’s never been a goal scorer.
In seven NHL seasons, here are his yearly goal totals: 19, 14, 10, 13, 14, 33 and 13. That’s an average of 16.57 goals a season.
Here are Getzlaf’s yearly goal total: 14, 25, 24, 25, 19, 19 and 11. That averages out to 19.57.
Now, Gomez’s are skewed a little because of that one good season where he scored 33 goals. But it’s also fair to note that Getzlaf, generally regarded as a better hockey player, has never had a 30-goal season, although he did hit the 20-goal mark three times (but not once in the last three years).
So whoever signs Getzlaf shouldn’t expect him to ring up a lot of goals. Don’t be disappointed when he averages 17 goals the first few years of his contract.
Some might say the assists is where both these guys excel.
Gomez’s assists in those seven seasons beforehis big deal: 51, 49, 38, 42, 56, 51, and 47. Pretty consistent, right? That averages out to 47.71 assists a season.
Getzlaf’s assists these last seven seasons: 25, 33, 58, 66, 50, 57 and 46. Not as consistent, right? But the average is 47.57.
That’s pretty close to bang on. Getzlaf has probably had the advantage, since he has Corey Perry to give the puck to, while Gomez had Brian Gionta and whoever happened to be on the ice with them at the time.
If you compare the first seven years of their career, Getzlaf has averaged about three points more per season than Gomez did. That’s it. That’s actually not a huge difference.
Playoff numbers are pretty good
Scott Gomez’s had some pretty good playoff years with the Devils. His last three playoff seasons with them looked like this:
- 2004: Five games, six points (which led the team).
- 2005: Lockout.
- 2006: Nine games, nine points (his five goals were second on the team).
- 2007: 11 games, 14 points (led the team, and his 10 assists were sixth in the playoffs that year).
How does Getzlaf stack up?
- 2008: Six games, five points (which led the team)
- 2009: 13 games, 18 points (led the team in assists and points)
- 2010: Missed playoffs
- 2011: Six games, six points
- 2012: Missed playoffs
Not sure if you did the math yet, but they posted identical numbers: 29 points in 25 games (for the record, Gomez had nine goals, 20 assists, while Getzlaf had eight goals, 21 assists).
That’s more than a point-per-game. Gomez’s 1.16 points-per-game average was third overall during that time period of all players who had played at least 20 playoff games. Getzlaf’s 1.16 points-per-game average is fourth overall during that time period of all players who had played at least 20 playoff games.
So we know they both find another gear when it hits the postseason. GMs like that. They’ll overpay for it.
Weak free agent class both years for forwards
When Gomez signed, it was him, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. They were seen as the big guns. There were also other good players: Michael Nylander, Ryan Smyth, Paul Kariya, Todd Bertuzzi, Robert Lang, Radek Bonk, Owen Nolan and Brendan Shanahan amongst others, but none of them were seen as major impact players.
So who is with Getzlaf next year? There’s Corey Perry and Jarome Iginla. Then you have a bunch of second-tier guys, led by Alexander Semin, Patrick Elias, Mike Ribeiro, Andy McDonald, Jaromir Jagr, Joffrey Lupul, Nathan Horton, Travis Zajac, Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder. Again, some nice complimentary players, but would you give any of them a massive contract, first-line minutes and still expect to be a contender for a cup? Probably not.
And there’s still a year left for teams to sign their guys before they even hit free agency. So expect that list to be reduced by quite a bit.
When you look at major-impact free agents next year, there’s three options. One of those is Getzlaf. He’s going to cash in big.
Won a cup early in his career
Gomez won it in his rookie season. Getzlaf won it as a sophomore, but it was his first full season (he played only 57 games the season before).
Remember what general managers always say? Playoff experience counts. It leads to more money for players.
Gomez was 27 years old when he became a free agent. Getzlaf will just turn 28 when he hits the open market.
That means a lot of people will believe Getzlaf is entering his prime, just like they did with Gomez. They’ll expect at least five great years from Getzlaf.
Due for a pay raise
Gomez had a cap hit of $5 million a season the year before we signed the big deal. Knowing what he know about his play back then, he was due for a raise.
Getzlaf has a cap hit of $5.325 million. Depending on what happens with the lockout, Getzlaf will probably sign for big money. There’s a chance he signs a cap-friendly deal, but those may be on the way out. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Getzlaf signs a massive contract where he gets $7 million a year, just like Gomez did five years ago.
There are obviously some differences. Getzlaf checks more than Gomez ever did. Gomez played in a defensive era before the new rules thanks to the lockout seven years ago. Gomez managed to stay healthy during his first seven years whereas Getzlaf has battled injuries. Gomez was much better in the faceoff dot than Getzlaf is.
But the simalarities are amazing. The assists per year is almost bang-on. Points in their last three playoff seasons are identical. They don’t score. They’ve won a Cup early in their careers.
When you look at it, someone is going to sign Getzlaf for a lot of money (if he doesn’t re-sign with Anaheim). Next summer, people will be saying it’s a good deal for an elite playmaker and it will help fill a need for whatever team signs him. Three years afterwards, he’ll be seen as an overpaid bum.
Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. And someone is bound to do just that in about 10 months time.