3.03.2008

Pitkanen New Contract

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone and Joni Pitkanen is still an Edmonton Oiler it is time that the Oilers should start talking contract with the pending RFA. Pitkanen seems to be quite the enigma. After having a brilliant rookie and sophomore season, Joni has seen both his play and point production slip in the last two years. However, being a 23 year old puck moving defenseman still makes him a desirable asset to many teams in the NHL.

One thing that I learned while researching this blog is the clause that many teams use to protect their RFAs from offer sheets, simply file for arbitration. When a team or player files for arbitration it is regarded as though said player has the intent of signing a contract and is then unable to entertain offer sheets from other teams. This is what Joni and the Philadelphia Flyers did last summer. Now knowing this many people would question why don’t the Oilers just file for arbitration on July 1 and see what happens? Well under the new CBA a player can only be taken to arbitration once during their NHL life-span as a RFA. This means that even though the Oilers signed Joni to a contract, avoiding the arbitration process they can not file again this summer. So the next viable option is to figure out what Joni could be worth.

To figure out the worth of Mr. Pitkanen, since he is mainly known as an offensive defenseman, I will be comparing point averages and age to players that have recently signed contracts in the NHL (Thus I have not included players that are still on entry levels contacts).

First off, let’s set the bar. One of the best puck moving defensemen in the league is Sergei Zubov. Before he was injured Zubov had a 0.761 point per game average and is due to make 5.3 million dollars next year. So Joni should not get paid anywhere near the 5.3 million one of the best in the game demands.

Next compare Joni to a couple other young players

Player

Age

Point Per Game Average

Time on Ice

Ryan Whitney

24

0.559

23:12

Niklas Kronvall

26

0.521

20:50

Paul Martin

26

0.467

23:31

Joni Pitkanen

23

0.368

24:05

Brent Seabrook

22

0.355

21:09

Daniel Girardi

23

0.344

21:15

Fedor Tyutin

23

0.266

20:33

So as you can see Pitkanen is roughly the middle of the pack of these young studs for point per game average despite being the leader in time on ice. But, that is not the only factor we should look at offensively.

I also think that it should be noted that a true offensive defensemen will add significantly to your power play. However, Pitkanen’s PP numbers are atrocious. Comparing the same player’s power play points per 60 minutes looks something like this:

Player

PP P60

Sergei Zubov

4.13

Ryan Whitney

3.61

Daniel Girardi

3.23

Brent Seabrook

3.08

Paul Martin

3.04

Fedor Tyutin

2.0

Niklas Kronvall

1.93

Joni Pitkanen

1.6

As you can see Joni’s numbers place him at the bottom of this pack.

So let’s now look at the money issue

Player

Cap Hit

Ryan Whitney

4.00 mil / 5 yrs

Paul Martin

3.83 mil / 2 yrs

Brent Seabrook

3.50 mil / 3 yrs

Niklas Kronvall

3.00 mil / 5 yrs

Fedor Tyutin

2.85 mil / 4 yrs

Daniel Girardi

1.55 mil / 2 yrs

Joni Pitkanen

?

So now, basing solely on offensive numbers what should Joni be paid? Looking at the other contracts, the logical seems to be in the 2.85 – 4.0 million dollar range. However, it would be the length of the contract that determines where the actual cap hit lies. If the deal was for 3 years or less I would like to see the cap hit come out to roughly 3.25 million. This would be a good deal for Joni as it would pay fair market value and allow for him to prove himself for a possible bigger pay day when the contract expires. As well, with the new CBA in place it would mean that he would be a UFA (7 years in the NHL) at the age of 26. However, if the Oilers are able to lock him up for a 6 year term with the cap hit coming in around the 3.75 – 4.0 million dollar range I would say that the Oilers have come out on top possibly signing a franchise defensemen to a long term contract.

This is just my opinion and I guess we will all just have to sit back and watch what KLowe does.

4 comments:

Josh said...

Great post. A few things to add...I like the way the contract situation is looking but I think if your taking Pitkanen's UFA years you might go higher than 4 mill.

One thing that does go against us is the medium fish in small pond theory. Pitkanen is one of our bigger names and so KLowe may end up paying some money based on local "hype" (See: Ryan Smyth).

Rory said...

I don't know if Pitkanen is worth $4 million/year. He is an amazing skater but as Jon eluded to his stats are not improving. Tough to say with a healthy Souray and Smid in the lineup and Gilbert proving to be a top 4 defenseman he may have some support next year and his numbers will go up. I would say $3 mil but hype in Edmonton will boost that, and his agent will probably muscle KLowe into the $4 mil range.

Jon G said...

Yeah, plus his agent has the idea that we paid Penner for potential, so why would we not pay Pitkanen

Tyler said...

Solid post, I basically already discussed my thoughts on the mater with you. I just wanted register for future posting opportunities. Would really be interesting to see which teams actually have their own picks and thus have the potential for offer sheets. All I have to say is; with Buffalo losing their top puck moving D and having that extra cap space; if they have their picks their a comin. And if they don't; Klowe should make a preemptive strike and try to swing something with whomever has it to throw up a road block if the price is right. I think they're just bitter and petty enough to push hard on it. Plus it would make them a better club which at the end of the day is what it's all about. Also we need to resign Gilbert in a bad way. He would arguably be a much better bang for your buck.