Saturday, June 25, 2011

Walk in the Park: Bryzgalov's Contract & The New Kovalchuk Rules

Let's look at Ilya Bryzgalov's contract and whether it could be seen as a circumvention of the cap.

Refresher: the cap hit is the average yearly value of the contract and not what a player makes in a specific year. That's why a player's salary can be higher or lower in a particular year than the cap hit.

Here's the yearly distribution on Bryzgalov's new deal:

After the Kovalchuk decision, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to some new guidelines governing long term deals, which are deals that are 5 plus years. Here are the guidelines:

1) For long-term contracts extending beyond the age of 40, the average annual value of the contract for the years up to and including 40 are calculated by dividing total value in those years by the number of years up to and including 40. Then for the years covering ages 41 and beyond, the cap hit in each year is equal to the value of the contract in those years.

2) For long-term contracts that include years in which the player is 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40, the amount used for calculating the average annual value is a minimum of $1 million in each of those years - even if the actual compensation is less during those seasons.

So how does Bryzgalov's contract shake out?

1) The contract takes him to the age of 40, so the first guideline doesn't apply. If the Flyers added a couple of years to the contract, it wouldn't have affected the cap hit.

2) Between the ages of 36 and 40, Bryzgalov's won't make less than $1 million. So the second new rule doesn't apply either.

So does this contract constitute a circumvention and therefore likely to be challenged by the NHL?


While the contract is long, I don't see throwaway years added on that artificially lower the salary cap. As well, goalies are playing longer these days. Dwayne Roloson is 41, Tim Thomas (who arguably had the best season of an NHL goalie in history) is 37 and Hasek is 126.

All that being said, isn't it inherently risky to give a player a 9 year deal? Players break down, fade and fall apart - particularly in their late 30s. On top of that, sometimes personality conflicts drive a wedge between a player and the team/fans.

So while the contract is not a circumvention, it is circumrisky.

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