Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Case for Mark Giordano's Next Contract

Candice Ward - USA Today Sports

Mark Giordano is currently the longest tenured Calgary Flame. He's been with the organization since 2004, and has played consistently for the Flames since 2008 (the only other Flame to play here that long is Mikael Backlund, who was drafted in 2007 and played his first NHL game in the late stages of the 2008-09 season). Giordano is also the Flames' captain, and is considered by many pundits to be one of the best defensemen in the League. However, he's also 30 (and 33 when the new deal will take hold), and an eight-year deal (or one with a similarly long term) may possibly result in Gio retiring before the completion of the deal, resulting in costly cap-recapture penalties, or, in a more likely case, his play deteriorating top the point where his contract becomes a burden rather than a bargain.

So, below, let's discuss the future of Mark Giordano's tenure with the Flames, and whether he should aim for one of three options (and whether Treliving and Burke should even consider them).

Option 1: Longer Term

This is obviously not Treliving's first choice for Giordano's contract, but the way that Gio might see it is that he might only have one big contract left and so he should try to make the big money last as long as possible. Of course, this is also unlikely because the longest contract that Treliving has ever handed out was five years long to T.J. Brodie, but Giordano is, by leaps and bounds, the best player on the Flames and can probably muscle out a six-, seven-, or even an eight-year deal.

What Giordano will want (in this scenario): 8 years, 67 million, 8.375 AAV

What management will want (in this scenario): 6 years, 51 million, 8.5 AAV

Management will be willing to bring more money to the table if it means more flexibility for them in the future, but Giordano may be looking for more security. They have to balance it the right way. The means are there, and Giordano loves playing here, but he'll still command a huge raise from the four million-per he's commanding right now. Which brings us to another option...

Option 2: More Money

There is absolutely no doubt about this: Mark Giordano is a superstar, and deserves to be paid as such. Elliotte Friedman was on the Fan 960 last week talking about a new contract for Dustin Byfuglien, and how he and his agent will point to Dion Phaneuf's monster deal (his AAV is 7 per) and start there. Byfuglien is far better than Phaneuf, and should command over 7.5 million per at his next payday. Well, Giordano is even better than Byfuglien, and talks have been going on that he may be in for a new contract with an AAV of over 9 million. Now, of course, this is only feasible if Giordano sacrifices term or is willing to do one other thing (more on that in a minute), but it's not out of the ballpark.

What Giordano will want (in this scenario): 5 years, 47.5 million, 9.5 AAV

What management will want (in this scenario): 5 years, 45 million, 9 AAV

I don't think that the two sides will be very far apart if they choose to go down this route - it's a win-win. Giordano gets more money quicker, and management gets more flexibility in the future. One more possibility, now...

Option 3: Front-loaded Contract

If you don't know what a front loaded contract is, Marian Hossa's deal is a good one to look at. (If you do know what one is, skip this part - it's a bit crazy.) He signed it as a free agent in 2009 at age 30, for 12 years at a total of 63 million (AAV 5.25 per). However, for the first seven years of the contract, he makes 7.9 a season (excluding the shortened 2012-13 season). The year after that, he makes 4 million, then for the four years after that (2017-18 - 2020-21) he makes only 1 million a year. In total, this adds up to 63 million, but the average value is 5.25 million, so that's the cap hit, only because of the four years at the end which the team, at first, assumed they wouldn't have to deal with because they thought Hossa would have retired by then - of course, in the aforementioned lockout, they added something called a cap-recapture penalty, which punishes the team that signed the player if said player retires before the end of the contract (see: Ilya Kovalchuk).

Whew. That was a mouthful.

What Giordano will want (in this scenario): 8 years, 69 million, 8.625 AAV
Breakdown: Years 1-4: 11 million a season. Years 5-6: 7 million a season. Years 7-8: 5.5 million a season.

What management will want (in this scenario): 8 years, 54.5 million, 6.8125 AAV
Breakdown: Years 1-4: 8.5 million a season. Years 5-6: 6 million a season. Years 7-8: 4.25 million a season.

Pretty similar. I think that if the two sides decide to go down this path, which they likely will, they'll have pretty similar opinions on what to go with. I think the above makes the most sense for both sides, because in all likeliness, Giordano will still be around by the time that the contract is up (although his skill might have deteriorated), so the Flames won't have to deal with any penalties.

Of course, I have no affiliation whatsoever with the Calgary Flames, so the above three scenarios are just what I think will happen. When the Flames inevitably re-sign Giordano in a few weeks, feel free to link back to this post and laugh at me, but I see these three options as likely. Post a comment below and sound off on what you think the Flames and Giordano should do this offseason.

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