Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Get Your Head Checked

To the left stands Jacob Trouba. By all accounts, he's a solid young defenceman with the Winnipeg Jets who has shown flashes of greatness albeit in fewer moments two seasons ago in his rookie campaign than sophomore season last year. He is a restricted free agent that the Jets are working to sign, reportedly, as he bolsters their blue line quite nicely with his skill set. However, in this day and age, skilled defencemen who are younger than 25 are highly coveted by all teams, and this brings in the possibility of an offer sheet for these men. One team, it seems, has its sights set on Jacob Trouba if media reports are to be believed.

Joe Haggerty, who covers the Bruins' beat for Comcast SportsNet New England, has stirred up all sorts of craziness tonight after he went to Twitter to report that Boston was willing to throw dump trucks (note the plurality of the trucks) of money at Jacob Trouba via an offer sheet.
Ok, you say, you've seen this before, so what's new? If Nashville met Philadelphia's price for Shea Weber, Winnipeg will do the same, right? You'd be correct if the offer being reported wasn't so incredibly insane.

According to Haggerty's report on CSNNE, Boston GM Don Sweeney is prepared to offer Jacob Trouba - he of six goals and 21 points last season - "an offer sheet that totals a minimum of $47 million". Of course, that's less than $7 million per season if it's a maximum seven-year contract, but that's not how offer sheets work when it comes to average annual value (AAV).

As Haggerty explains, "AAV is determined by dividing the total compensation offered by the lesser of the length of the contract, or by five. For contracts longer than five years in term, this will result in a higher AAV than simply dividing the contract total by the number of years." This means that Jacob Trouba's reported $47 million deal would be divided by five years instead of the full seven years of the deal. There are pros and cons to each side.

Obviously, Winnipeg probably isn't going to commit a $9.4 million cap hit for Trouba when there are other priorities that they need to address. That works in Boston's favor as they'll be able to sign Trouba to that cap hit to fulfill the Bruins' own poor management of trading away second- and third-round picks in past deals that could have lowered the overall cap hit they'd need to absorb. The result is that Boston would get Trouba at $9.4 million per season on the books, but would have to forfeit four first-round picks to the Jets.

Pros and cons, as I said.

Winnipeg, who retains Trouba's rights through restricted free agency, have been watching the latest rounds of signings with an eye on value for each. Olli Maatta's deal in Pittsburgh is one that Winnipeg would like to copy with Trouba as both Maatta and Trouba are from the same draft class and have roughly the same points and value to their teams - neither are top-line defencemen, but they can score, move the puck, and are physical along the boards. Of course, Seth Jones' deal is still up in the air with Columbus, but I would expect that Trouba's deal comes somewhere in the middle of the Maatta and the expected Jones deals.

At the end of the day, you have to ask one question: is Don Sweeney really this inept as a general manager? To saddle a team with a $9.4 million AAV when it is expected that the salary cap will remain the same at best next year while forfeiting four first-round picks might be the definition of stupidity when it comes to running an NHL club. He can hope that salary will open up with the likes of Zdeno Chara on the edge of retirement and walking away from Loui Eriksson, but is Trouba really worth Shea Weber or PK Subban money at this point in his career?

The answer is no to all the questions above. If Boston wants to drive dump trucks of money to Trouba's door, let them. The Jets will almost guarantee themselves a top-ten pick in the next four drafts with that move. My guess, though, is that someone from the Boston-area media is up to his old tricks again in trying to light a fire under a few people to get a reaction. There is no way any NHL GM sacrifices his team's cap room and future in one fell swoop in today's NHL.

Speculation and rumor-mongering shouldn't be an NHL beat reporter's job. Get your head checked, Haggerty. The Bruins would be a terrible team for along time if they made the move you proposed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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