We all heard Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who recently agreed to an eight-year contract extension that carries an average annual value just shy of $11 million, and how he was going to stay in touch with Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson when it came to what they were worth and how much they just be paid. Forwards and defenders can use their performance as a quality argument in contract negotiations, however, can we say the same about goaltenders?
Travis Yost of TSN published an interesting study on how the National Hockey League keeps facing a major issue when it comes to paying goalies. His analysis is right on point: entering the 2018-19 NHL season, the three goaltenders carrying the largest cap hits are Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky.
The three aforementioned netminders had very different seasons: Price is coming off of his worst professional season, Lundqvist was just average and frustrated to miss out on the postseason and Bobrovsky was impressive and his performance earned him some distant Vezina Trophy consideration.
It clearly depicts the situation when it comes to paying up goalies and explains the amount of criticism the league is taking for it. Here is how Yost explains it:
"The goaltending pay issue has beleaguered NHL front offices for years. Decision makers who pay for performance for forwards and defencemen don’t see the same degree of volatility, perhaps in large part because the statistical measures we have available for those players are more reliable and indicative of a player’s talent."
"For goaltenders, it’s quite a different story. There is almost no correlation between a player’s cap hit and the rate at which he stops shots."
On Thursday, Winnipeg Jets' starting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck cashed in after a breakout season that saw him emerge as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL, signing a six-year, $37-million contract with an average annual value of $6.167 million.
Only time will tell if that was the right move...
Yost is amazed at the guesswork that is at the centre of paying goaltenders. And the league often faces questions from fans on that specific question. You can be sure many questions have been asked around in Montreal with Price's massive contract.
"How can a position so critically important to the game be so unpredictable? How can so much money be spent on a position where we have such little statistical understanding?"
Let's see how Price does in the 2018-19 season, and we can continue this chat, eh?