Dany Heatley < Sidney Crosby

24Sep07

(Don’t you just love my use of math symbols in the post title?)

TSN has a report about how Dany Heatley’s apparently seeking a cool $8.5 million extension. Of course, these types of numbers are often thrown around for bargaining posture, but still, I thought we might want to do a little sanity check here. Now, don’t get me wrong — Dany Heatley’s one of the top players in the game. However, the measuring stick really has been set by Sidney Crosby’s extension with a cap-hit average of $8.7 million per season (I know, I know, Crosby took a “below market value” extension but still, he’s essentially the highest-average paid player in the league), and I don’t know about you guys, but Dany Heatley’s still a cut below Crosby and a few other players.

However, I think the Daniel Briere/Chris Drury/Scott Gomez contracts have thrown everything out of whack. Blame the Rangers and Flyers — is it 1997 again? Let’s take a look at some stats:

Dany Heatley, age 26

Year Team GP G A Pts +/-
2005-06 OTT 82 50 53 103 29
2006-07 OTT 82 50 55 105 31

Here are some players and salaries that say Heatley’s asking for too much.

Sidney Crosby, age 20, average $8.7 million

Year Team GP G A Pts +/-
2005-06 PIT 81 39 63 102 -1
2006-07 PIT 79 36 84 120 10

Joe Thornton, age 28, average $7.2 million

2005-06 BOS 23 9 24 33 0
2005-06 SJ 58 20 72 92 31
2006-07 SJ 82 22 92 114 24

Vincent Lecavalier, age 27, average $6.875 million

2005-06 TB 80 35 40 75 0
2006-07 TB 82 52 56 108 2

Now, each of these players comes with a different contract extension. Crosby and Thornton signed in the offseason while Lecavalier was from a few years back. Thornton took one of those infamous hometown discounts to stay in San Jose while Lecavalier’s contract was a monster at the time — and now it looks modest. Factoring in current-season economics/inflation and the players considered here, I’d say Heatley’s worth $7.5 million over a long-term deal.

However, there certainly are arguments for what Heatley is asking for. Check out these players:

Brad Richards, age 27, average $7.8 million

Year Team GP G A Pts +/-
2003-04 TB 82 26 53 79 14
2005-06 TB 82 23 68 91 0
2006-07 TB 82 25 45 70 -19

Scott Gomez, age 27, average $7.35 million

Year Team GP G A Pts +/-
2003-04 NJ 80 14 56 70 18
2005-06 NJ 82 33 51 84 8
2006-07 NJ 72 13 47 60 7

Chris Drury, age 30, average $7.1 million

Year Team GP G A Pts +/-
2003-04 BUF 76 18 35 53 8
2005-06 BUF 81 30 37 67 -11
2006-07 BUF 77 37 32 69 1

Looking at those guys, if you get $7 million for averaging about 70 points a year, doesn’t that make Heatley worth $8.5 million?

Now Gary Bettman has made the argument that this sort of apparent salary inflation isn’t anything to worry about because revenues are growing with the inflated salaries and there is a built-in mechanism to control escalation from going bonkers (as if it hasn’t already). Yes, the escrow mechanism prevents things from growing out of control in a way similar to the late 90’s, but when you think about how contracts are just getting bandied about now like it’s Bob Barker’s return to The Price Is Right, well, $8 million bucks doesn’t buy what it used to now, does it?

In any case, if Heatley signs a 5 or 6-year deal with the Sens, I’m guessing it’ll average at $8 million a year.

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