One storyline that will heat up as July 1, 2011 inches closer is the restricted free agent status of 2008 draftees Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty. The two are arguably the brightest young stars at their position and are set for big paydays. They are also friends and have the same agent (Don Meehan).
The latest negotiation update was provided by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun last month, but today we look at what kind of deals we should expect for Stamkos and Doughty. Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay has an exceptional talent on their heads. For the size Stamkos is listed at (6’1”), he has a long wingspan and a booming shot. If you extrapolate this year’s numbers for the entire 82-game season, Stamkos is on pace for 73 goals and 137 points.
‘Stammer’ has been so good this season that he has placed his name alongside Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby – rare company this day in age. Both Ovie and Sid received big money when their entry-level deal completed, so let’s compare:
Ovechkin- Subsequent contract: 13 years, $124 million
Crosby- Subsequent contract: 5 years, $43.5 million
Stamkos didn’t have the rookie season that the other two had, but he also went through a coaching change and wasn’t as ready for the NHL at that point. In the year and a half since, he’s quickly blossomed into a superstar. In fact, since Feb. 17, 2008 – when he finally ‘got it’ as a rookie – Stamkos leads the league in goals with 83.
It’s tough to gage what kind of deal ‘Stammer’ will receive. The Lightning already have Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis on the books for a combined $13 million for the next five-plus seasons; plus they’ll be having to re-sign Victor Hedman in 2012. However, GM Steve Yzerman and owner Jeff Vinik will do whatever they can to lock up Stamkos.
An educated guess would be a five-year deal in the range of $8 million annually (less than what Ovie and Sid make). A five-year pact would end when Stamkos is 26 years old, which would save him from unrestricted free agency. At least that’s what I would do if I were Yzerman.
Drew Doughty Defensemen are a little bit of a different story than goal-scoring prodigies like Stamkos. Some of the best defensemen in the league are making $5 or $6 million… unless you’re name is Wade Redden. But I digress…
Doughty is a superb blueliner that has multiple Norris Trophies (and maybe a Hart?) in his future with the Kings. At the age of 20, Doughty was a Norris finalist last season with the likes of Mike Green and eventual winner Duncan Keith. When Doughty gets his new deal, you can expect it to be similar to Green’s and Keith’s.
Let’s compare their numbers leading up to their big extensions.
Green- Subsequent contract: 4 years, $21 million
Keith- Subsequent contract: 13 years, $72 million
What isn’t shown above the ice-time Doughty has logged in his first three seasons. As a rookie, he saw almost 24 minutes per game. That number increased by almost a minute in 2009/10. This season he’s averaging 'just' 23:12, but he’s dealt with a concussion and the Kings have a deeper blueline this year.
Doughty’s calmness with the puck is staggering. I was blown away last spring in his first playoff appearance – against the high-powered Canucks, no less. At times he looked like the second-coming of Scott Niedermayer. To think he is just scratching the surface and can improve on his game is downright scary.
As far as Doughty’s contract goes, I think it could be a longer one than Stamkos receives. I can see the Kings locking Doughty up with a 10-year deal or even bigger. However, GM Dean Lombardi doesn’t have a history with those kinds of mega-deals, so I’ll resort to an eight-year deal worth between $5.5 – 6 million a year for Doughty.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.