Quick’s deal is a steal

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 at Jewels from the Crown will 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.

 

  11 comments for “Quick’s deal is a steal

  1. jewelsfromthecrown
    June 29, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Paying a lot for goalies is not an ‘unworkable’ idea, it’s just that it makes it tougher to assemble a stronger contender around the goalie in question. There are always be other, cheaper goalies who will deliver the same or even better save percentage than the high priced big names (which is why the stats community, e.g. Gabe from Behind the Net, is against it). But goaltending is so volatile and unpredictable, it’s hard to pick those guys out and make that bet. I see why GMs are willing to spend more on goalies they believe will act as bastions/safety nets. Phoenix is to be praised for picking up Mike Smith on the cheap, but that wasn’t their Plan A. They’re a budget team who was forced to take that gamble.

    It’s probably the best contract they could have gotten given the circumstances.

    I do believe that within the LA media this is being embraced as obviously terrific signing, with little or no discussion about the possible downsides going forward. Outside the bubble, other writers are pointing out the potential risks.

    • June 29, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      I assume this is Niesy.

      You’re always reading things I’m not reading. I personally haven’t read anything in the media except the original tweets and JftC. But of course it’s risky. My point, I guess, is that the risk comes with winning the cup and having to pay accordingly. Going with Bernier while dealing Quick to New Jersey or wherever would have been risky also.

      • Garrett79
        June 29, 2012 at 8:04 PM

        There are risks inherent in signing any contract, whether in professional sports or the real world. If Lombardi had signed him to a 5-year deal for 40-mil and traded Bernier this summer and then Quick suffered a concussion on opening night and never returned, that would have left the Kings in worse shape than having a solid Quick for (hopefully) 6-7 years under this contract, followed by him being overpaid for a few years while they groom a new goalie. But I stand by my initial statement that plenty of goalies play well into their mid-30s, so I think the term of this deal is perfect because it keeps Quick with a very reasonable cap hit until what will likely be the end of his career. If he’s putting up the kind of numbers 6 years from now that he did this season he’s a HOFer worth double what he’s getting paid.

      • June 30, 2012 at 9:03 AM

        I think what also needs to be considered, and possibly analyzed (I’m unaware if it’s out there already), is what is the expected future performance of a hot/marquee/”big name” goalie like Quick, vs the backup/no-name/cheap goaltender crowd. If you look at it this way, sure, you may have some disappointments, but on average I’d expect it to be a safer bet that more frequently pays off and on average pays off better (ie gives you solid goaltending more often).

        He’s a young goalie in his prime, he’s a great athlete with a strong work ethic, he has shown steady improvement, and even when he wasn’t posting fantastic stats, it was pretty evident he had the tools to get there eventually (the last part is imo).

        • June 30, 2012 at 9:04 AM

          My point is, I think GM’s are more willing to pay for that bet rather than take a larger risk.

      • jewelsfromthecrown
        June 30, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        Yup, it’s me. I can’t figure out how to log in the other ways.

        You should read LAT though! I’ve never seen Helene Elliott so positive about any offseason moves by the Kings. For the Quick contract she’s practically waving flags and throwing confetti. It’s self evidently great to have Quick for a decade, self evidently great to go chase high profile free agents, too.

        On blogs, we’re talking about how it’s a tradeable contract. In other outlets, they discuss the risk of long term goalie contracts. To me the contrast is interesting.

  2. Garrett79
    June 29, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    I am of the opinion that this contract is a brilliant move by Dean Lombardi. If Quick wanted to wait and look at offer sheets next summer, he could have gotten offers in the $8-10 million/per year range, whether short term or long. While offer sheets are obviously rare, so is the frequency of a young goalie of Quick’s ability coming available as an RFA one year removed from a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup. He has clearly separated himself into the upper strata of NHL goalies with solid regular seasons and now the single greatest playoff in the modern era. Nevertheless, he accepted a contract that will pay him less per year and only slightly more overall than Pekka Rinne makes in Nashville. Hell, former Kings goalie Cristobal Huet gets paid $5.625 million per season by the Blackhawks and he’s not even in the NHL anymore. The cap hit is considerably less than goalies like Cam Ward, Nik Backstrom, Ryan Miller, and Henrik Lundqvist.

    As for the term, I have no problem with it. A lot of great goalies are playing well into their mid-to-late 30s. In the last two seasons, Tim Thomas and Martin Brodeur have backstopped Eastern Conference teams to the Stanley Cup Finals at 37 and 40 years of age, respectively. He’ll only be 37 when the contract expires, and maybe his best years will be behind him, but he doesn’t have to be the starter anymore by then, and with the cap hit actually being pretty manageable, if another goalie comes up through the system in five years and starts to blow Quick away, it’s a very tradeable contract (assuming there isn’t a no-trade clause).

    I was expecting Lombardi to pay a contract at least in the $8 million/year range, so the fact that it’s such a bargain is great, in my opinion. After the way he played this season, did anyone really think Quick was still going to be only the third highest paid player on the team, based on cap hit, and only $50,000 ahead of Mike Richards? He could easily have demanded to be the best-paid, and I think it’s awesome that he is enough of a team guy to know the franchise needs flexibility to improve over time.

    kingsinhockeywood.blogspot.com

    • jewelsfromthecrown
      June 29, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      “A lot of great goalies are playing well into their mid-to-late 30s.”

      The ones still around in their late 30s are still around because they are very good; but not many are still starters at that age. http://www.coppernblue.com/2012/4/30/2987615/impact-age-goaltender-performance-save-percentage

    • June 29, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      Quick would have been UFA next summer, not RFA. But I obviously agree with you that Lombardi did good here.

      • Garrett79
        June 29, 2012 at 8:06 PM

        You’re absolutely right. But either way, I think it’s a wise move. Actually, as a UFA Quick would have gotten even more money, I imagine.

  3. Sam
    June 29, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Love, love, love this contract. I was expecting something more like 52.5 – 56 million over 7 years to be his going rate. Look at Brodeur, he’s still playing great in to his 40s and he is a physical goaltender with a wacky style.

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