Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe-winning, Vezina-nominated, franchise-record-breaking, groin-stretching, F-bomb-dropping, mind-controlling goaltender Jonathan Quick will, in two days, officially sign a ten year, $58 million contract, rumored to be paying him seven million for each of seven years, followed by three million for each of the last three, at which point — 2023 — we’ll all know in retrospect whether time was able to slow down his inimitably gymnastic stylings or Jedi mind tricks able to halt pucks in mid-flight.
I think this contract is a bargain.
It’s a great deal for Quick ($7MM/yr for the next 7 years), and a great cap hit for the Kings ($5.8MM). Niesy atwill tell you (I think she will anyway) that seven years (to say nothing of ten) is beyond the peak utility of most goalies. She will also tell you (I think) that over-paying for goalies is generally a bad, unworkable idea. There isn’t much room to argue with either of those points. In fact, the main counter-argument seems to be:
“Who cares? WE WON THE CUP!”
Now, that’s pretty short-sighted, obviously. But the actual counter-argument I would make is really not so far from that. Because of this fact: Jonathan Quick was instrumental in the Kings’ cup win to a degree that is impossible to exaggerate. If any of us had been in a position to say to Quick, back in March, “listen, Jon, if you go 16-4 in the playoffs, we will happily give you twenty million cash and by the way can we spread it out over seven years?” I don’t think anyone would have thought that was a bad deal. What is $20 million in cash (“in seven easy payments!”) compared to the increased revenue and increased intrinsic value of the franchise as a result of the cup win? It’s nothing.
So, just in terms of cash, which scenario is preferable:
(1) The Kings bow out in the first round yet again, and Quick re-signs for $4MM a year.
(2) The Kings win the cup, and Quick re-signs for $7MM a year.
The cash is obviously worth it. It’s payment for doing what he did. Now, what about the cap hit?
The first thing I would point out is that, if the Kings had crapped out in this year’s playoffs, and scenario #1 above came to be, there’s zero chance Quick would have signed a long term deal, because he would be looking to get a better deal in three or four years. Therefore, the cap hit would not be much lower than the salary, because there would be no room for the “tail” years to bring the cap hit down.
As a result, I’m pretty sure the lowest cap hit we could have expected in scenario #1 would have been $4MM (give or take, but play along, please). Is the extra cap hit of $1.8MM worth it to the Kings under these circumstances (the circumstances being that WE WON THE CUP and that’s the price of it)? Should Lombardi have played “hard-ball” in order to get that number down to…I don’t know…$5MM? I have to say, a cap hit of $5MM for Smythe/cup Quick seems almost inconceivably low, but — to follow this train of thought — the question is, would the $0.8MM of cap savings be worth a partial (or entire) season of contract anxiety and grief? Would it be worth the distraction of knowing that Quick could be traded at any minute, like pretty much every contract hard-baller under Lombardi? Would there be any chance of the Kings not sucking during their Cup Hangover season, under such a pall?
That’s a rhetorical question.
Dean Lombardi built a team not only to succeed but to withstand the trauma of success. Compare to Chicago, who were forced to begin dismantling even before they won the cup, or New Jersey, who may be — well, who knows what’s going on with New Jersey. With the Quick signing, everyone (of the so-called core) but bargain-basement Brown is locked up fairly longterm. Which brings me to another crafty benefit of the Quick deal:
It’s a model for the coming Brown deal. Long-term. Fair money. Ample cash reward for putting the team on his shoulders, and for taking a team-friendly deal last time around. And a decent cap-hit. In that context, the Quick deal is kind of an important precedent, especially since we don’t know what loop-holes the new CBA will close.
One last point: even if $5.8MM were a burdensome cap-hit in 2013 (it’s not), consider what it’s likely to look like in five years, or ten. The cap was nearly half its current level back in 2005. The max salary back then was under $8MM. Now it’s more than $14MM. If in that time league revenues crap out, the league will have a staggering array of financial problems that will cripple the next CBA and precipitate a plague of meltdowns amidst which Jon Quick’s cap hit will be but one of several hundred headaches. It’s more likely though, that salaries will continue to rise and Quick’s cap hit will (along with Richards’ and Carter’s and Doughty’s) look better and better with each passing year.