The Flames off-season officially began on Saturday after a two to one victory over the Minnesota Wild. One could make the argument that it actually started well before that as they were mathematically eliminated on March 26th prior to a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Fans post-season excitement from last year has been replaced with off-season anxiety, one that will see the team strapped for cash and needing to re-sign their two biggest names at forward.
The most pertinent thing the front office will have to do this year is re-sign Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau's contract will likely be one of the more leviathan contacts that the team has handed out. Due to the nature of these negotiations, there is a large amount of play on how much cap space the new contact will take up. While a ten percent swing on contract offer of 700 thousand has a swing of 70 thousand dollars each way for a total of 140 thousand, a ten percent swing on a contract of 7 million comes out to 700 thousand or 1.4 million. The former equals about a quarter of a minimum contract; the later equals about 2.5 minimum contracts.
That's all well and good, but how much will Gaudreau actually command? That's a considerably more complex question. Here what's known about statistics as they relate to both winning and how much a player gets paid.
First and foremost the point of hockey is to outscore the opponent. As such, players that score goals are obviously at a premium. Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Erik Karlsson are paid because they put up points. Steve Burtch has a good article here showing which statistics correlate with winning hockey. While the article is a bit old showing what Dave Nonis was trying to do for the Maple Leafs, the underlying data still applies.
Beyond that, the data shows that possession, particularly Fenwick, is an important stat in getting a team to a win. For those that don't quite understand Fenwick and Corsi, there's a primer listed here. In addition to that, there are newer statistics like xG (or expected goals) which carry an even higher rate of correlation.
Over the past two seasons Gaudreau did quite well in each category across all situations. This is difference is mostly due to the fact that he's particularly spectacular on special teams. His possession numbers in five on five situations could use some work, but so could nearly everyone on the Flames - the fact that he's as close to even as possible in relative Fenwick when his percentage is at 46.88 percent points more towards a coaching problem than it does an individual player problem.
|All Situations (xGF% and Rel.xGF% Score, Zone, Venue Adjusted)
|5v5 Situations Score, Zone, Venue Adjusted
|Rank out of top 450 Forwards in minutes played in Situation|
|Data from http://www.corsica.hockey/skaters/|
Costs per Point
Statistics are useful in determining how much players get paid, particularly points. Using CapFriendly, the cost per point can be determined for players that are currently under standard contracts. That comes out to $240,798.41 per goal, $175,259.64 per assist, and $101,433.55 per point.
The math on this doesn't add up however. Based on Gaudreau's 78 points last season, that would get him a little over 7.9 million - a sum that would eclipse Vladimir Tarasenko's total of 7.5 million which he received last year. That doesn't seem likely in the slightest.
In addition to this, these numbers include all players across all age ranges. It's also retroactive to players have already been paid. Some will exceed those values, others will fall far short of expectations (See Lance Bouma and Mason Raymond). Better methodology would have to be used to come up with a contract value.
Looking at the data from 2013-2015, there are 146 contracts that have been awarded to players aged 22-24 and have gone on to play the next season. These are all players that would be getting restricted free agent contacts. Some are high profile athletes that lead their teams; others are not-so-good - roll players that play minimally.
One thing to note is that none of them had shown the offensive prowess that Gaudreau has demonstrated in his first two seasons. Tarasenko's offensive numbers were certainly steller, but Gaudreau put up 26 additional points in the two years prior to his contract. That said, others came close to Tarasenko's numbers and received substantially less money, so maybe a Tarasenko type contract is not in the cards. The contracts given out are listed below.
|Name||Contract Year||G||A||P||Most Recent Contract||Name||Contract Year||G||A||P||Most Recent Contract|
|Vladimir Tarasenko||20152016||58||58||116||$7,500,000||Quinton Howden||20152016||4||2||6||$851,000|
|Matt Duchene||20142015||40||73||113||$6,000,000||Anders Lee||20142015||10||6||16||$851,000|
|Jordan Eberle||20132014||50||63||113||$6,000,000||Emerson Etem||20152016||12||9||21||$850,000|
|Brandon Saad||20152016||42||57||99||$6,000,000||Kenny Agostino||20152016||1||1||2||$830,000|
|Sam Gagner||20132014||32||53||85||$4,800,000||Stephane Da Costa||20132014||4||3||7||$825,000|
|Tyler Ennis||20142015||31||43||74||$4,600,000||Micheal Ferland||20152016||2||3||5||$825,000|
|Max Pacioretty||20132014||48||56||104||$4,500,000||Jacob Josefson||20142015||2||4||6||$800,000|
|Cody Hodgson||20132014||34||41||75||$4,250,000||Jeremy Morin||20142015||6||7||13||$800,000|
|Nazem Kadri||20152016||38||51||89||$4,100,000||Beau Bennett||20152016||7||12||19||$800,000|
|Nick Bjugstad||20152016||40||41||81||$4,100,000||Johan Larsson||20152016||6||14||20||$800,000|
|Adam Henrique||20132014||27||40||67||$4,000,000||Devante Smith-Pelly||20142015||2||8||10||$800,000|
|Ryan Johansen||20142015||38||36||74||$4,000,000||Lance Bouma||20142015||5||10||15||$775,000|
|Marcus Johansson||20152016||28||63||91||$3,750,000||Peter Holland||20142015||9||7||16||$775,000|
|Brendan Gallagher||20152016||43||45||88||$3,750,000||Dmitrij Jaskin||20152016||14||6||20||$775,000|
|Jakob Silfverberg||20152016||23||39||62||$3,750,000||Mike Hoffman||20142015||3||3||6||$750,000|
|Kyle Turris||20132014||24||34||58||$3,500,000||Zac Rinaldo||20132014||5||9||14||$750,000|
|Mark Stone||20152016||30||42||72||$3,500,000||Brad Malone||20132014||1||3||4||$735,000|
|Reilly Smith||20152016||33||58||91||$3,425,000||Calle Jarnkrok||20152016||9||18||27||$735,000|
|Tyler Johnson||20142015||27||29||56||$3,333,000||Teemu Pulkkinen||20152016||5||3||8||$735,000|
|Ondrej Palat||20142015||25||38||63||$3,333,000||Joakim Andersson||20132014||3||5||8||$733,000|
|Josh Bailey||20132014||24||27||51||$3,300,000||Andrei Loktionov||20132014||11||8||19||$725,000|
|Tyler Toffoli||20152016||35||43||78||$3,250,000||Tyler Pitlick||20142015||1||0||1||$725,000|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||20152016||24||58||82||$3,250,000||Zac Dalpe||20142015||5||5||10||$700,000|
|Charlie Coyle||20152016||23||42||65||$3,200,000||Jordan Nolan||20132014||4||6||10||$700,000|
|Derek Stepan||20132014||35||60||95||$3,075,000||Magnus Paajarvi||20152016||6||7||13||$700,000|
|Mikael Granlund||20152016||16||64||80||$3,000,000||Greg McKegg||20152016||0||0||0||$700,000|
|Evgeny Kuznetsov||20152016||14||32||46||$3,000,000||Shane Prince||20152016||0||1||1||$700,000|
|Tomas Tatar||20142015||23||23||46||$2,750,000||Eric Tangradi||20132014||1||5||6||$675,000|
|Nino Niederreiter||20142015||14||22||36||$2,667,000||Garrett Wilson||20152016||0||0||0||$675,000|
|Mika Zibanejad||20152016||36||43||79||$2,625,000||Curtis McKenzie||20152016||4||1||5||$675,000|
|Mikkel Boedker||20132014||18||32||50||$2,550,000||Lane MacDermid||20132014||2||0||2||$660,000|
|Brayden Schenn||20142015||28||39||67||$2,500,000||Luke Adam||20142015||2||0||2||$650,000|
|Brock Nelson||20152016||34||34||68||$2,500,000||Carl Klingberg||20142015||1||0||1||$650,000|
|Chris Kreider||20142015||19||21||40||$2,475,000||Michael Chaput||20152016||1||5||6||$650,000|
|Andrew Shaw||20142015||29||25||54||$2,000,000||Oscar Lindberg||20152016||0||0||0||$650,000|
|Craig Smith||20132014||18||30||48||$2,000,000||Paul Byron||20132014||3||3||6||$643,000|
|Antoine Roussel||20142015||21||23||44||$2,000,000||Nicolas Deslauriers||20142015||1||0||1||$637,000|
|Cody Eakin||20142015||23||36||59||$1,900,000||Max Friberg||20152016||0||0||0||$632,000|
|Marcus Foligno||20142015||12||25||37||$1,875,000||Jordan Szwarz||20142015||3||0||3||$630,000|
|Zack Kassian||20142015||21||19||40||$1,750,000||Patrice Cormier||20142015||0||3||3||$625,000|
|Kyle Clifford||20152016||9||14||23||$1,600,000||Matt Fraser||20132014||1||2||3||$625,000|
|Alex Burmistrov||20152016||0||0||0||$1,550,000||Brandon McMillan||20142015||2||5||7||$625,000|
|Mikael Backlund||20132014||12||15||27||$1,500,000||Jordan Martinook||20152016||0||1||1||$613,000|
|Nick Spaling||20132014||19||16||35||$1,500,000||Brandon Mashinter||20132014||0||0||0||$605,000|
|Tanner Pearson||20152016||15||8||23||$1,400,000||Joakim Nordstrom||20152016||1||5||6||$605,000|
|Marcus Kruger||20132014||13||26||39||$1,325,000||Zach Boychuk||20142015||2||4||6||$600,000|
|Joe Colborne||20142015||10||18||28||$1,275,000||Jordan Caron||20142015||2||4||6||$600,000|
|Alex Chiasson||20152016||24||37||61||$1,200,000||Mattias Tedenby||20132014||1||6||7||$600,000|
|Cam Atkinson||20132014||16||16||32||$1,150,000||Tomas Vincour||20142015||2||2||4||$600,000|
|Brett Connolly||20152016||13||5||18||$1,025,000||Cory Conacher||20142015||18||37||55||$600,000|
|Casey Cizikas||20142015||12||19||31||$1,000,000||Jonathan Marchessault||20152016||1||0||1||$600,000|
|Erik Haula||20152016||13||16||29||$1,000,000||Tye McGinn||20142015||7||3||10||$600,000|
|Linden Vey||20152016||10||19||29||$1,000,000||Colton Sceviour||20132014||0||1||1||$600,000|
|Matthew Calvert||20132014||9||10||19||$988,000||Christian Thomas||20152016||1||0||1||$600,000|
|Anton Lander||20152016||6||15||21||$988,000||Brett Bulmer||20152016||0||0||0||$600,000|
|Richard Panik||20152016||14||16||30||$975,000||Craig Cunningham||20142015||0||0||0||$600,000|
|Gustav Nyquist||20132014||4||9||13||$950,000||Landon Ferraro||20152016||1||0||1||$600,000|
|Riley Sheahan||20142015||9||15||24||$950,000||Philip Varone||20152016||4||3||7||$600,000|
|Ryan Spooner||20152016||8||21||29||$950,000||Andrew Agozzino||20152016||0||1||1||$600,000|
|Jesper Fast||20152016||6||8||14||$950,000||Ronalds Kenins||20152016||4||8||12||$600,000|
|Jimmy Hayes||20142015||12||10||22||$925,000||Nicholas Shore||20152016||1||6||7||$600,000|
|Brandon Pirri||20142015||13||12||25||$925,000||Brody Sutter||20152016||0||0||0||$600,000|
|Andrej Nestrasil||20152016||7||13||20||$912,000||Chris Wagner||20152016||0||0||0||$600,000|
|Jason Zucker||20142015||8||2||10||$900,000||Andy Andreoff||20152016||2||1||3||$588,000|
|Sven Baertschi||20152016||4||13||17||$900,000||Corey Tropp||20132014||3||5||8||$578,000|
|Tomas Jurco||20152016||11||22||33||$900,000||Riley Nash||20132014||4||6||10||$575,000|
|Jean-Gabriel Pageau||20152016||12||9||21||$900,000||Jason Akeson||20142015||1||1||2||$575,000|
|Taylor Beck||20152016||8||8||16||$875,000||Chris Brown||20152016||2||1||3||$575,000|
|Jayson Megna||20142015||5||4||9||$874,000||Austin Watson||20152016||0||0||0||$575,000|
|Vladislav Namestnikov||20152016||9||7||16||$874,000||Michael Latta||20142015||1||3||4||$575,000|
|Timothy Schaller||20152016||1||1||2||$874,000||Stanislav Galiev||20152016||1||0||1||$575,000|
|Gabriel Bourque||20152016||12||27||39||$866,000||Gabriel Dumont||20132014||1||2||3||$562,000|
|Carter Ashton||20142015||0||3||3||$851,000||Anthony Peluso||20132014||0||2||2||$562,000|
Of course all of this assumes that contracts are rewarded based solely on a player's point total. There are a number of other statistics which players can be graded on from traditional stats like hits to advanced ones like blocked shots. Each of them can carry different clout.
Statistical Correlation with Salary
There are a plethora of statistics from rates to net totals which show a players production in a given category. As previously aforementioned there's already enough data to show which ones correlate with winning. They do not ultimately show what a player winds up getting paid.
Taking the statistics from the R^2 values helps to paint a picture of which ones they do get paid on. The picture shows that points do matter, but the type of point matters as well. Secondary assists were largely ignored, instead going with the primary assists and goals. As a matter of fact, merely being out on the ice for a goal was more reliable of a statistic than the secondary assist.
|Stat||5v5 - No Min||5v5 - 500 Minute Min||All - No Min||All - 500 Minute Min||PP - No Min||PP - 50 Minute Min|
The most important statistics were the volumes at which players scored. Even with high minute filters, the rates didn't matter as much as the volume did. Rates never lead to half the standard deviation and thus can largely be ignored.
In fact, most numbers could largely ignored. Even when thrown into more complex formulas, the most accurate formula turned out to be one of the simplest - $74,823.65 dollars per goal plus $48,319.35 per primary assist. The projected dollar amount comes out relatively close what a player was actually paid. The expected salary vs the actual on all players excluding those expected to make less than the minimum looks something like this:
It's worth noting that the further away from zero expected the worse the results seem to get. Once the value is at two million it mostly stabilizes however. That data looks more like this.
The Gaudreau Estimate
In Gaudreau's previous two seasons, he put up 54 goals and 55 primary assists. By the math, that would put his contract at around a $6,698,041.35. For comparison, Tarasenko's contract was projected to be $5,885,990.90 and he received 7.5 million per year.
This doesn't exactly mean that Gaudreau should expect to receive 7.5 million dollars like Tarasenko did. Tarasenko's contract was an over-payment in the sense that the Blues had to give him the money as they were not only competing with NHL teams, but also Russia. Gaudreau is not likely to jump overseas anytime soon and he cannot be tendered an offer from an opposing team.
Gaudreau's contract would have to deviate from the expected value by approximately 800 thousand dollars to get Tarasenko money. Based on the deviation required on the samples of players projected to make over two million, there's only about 12.8 percent chance of that occurring. He could certainly come close. There's at least a 50 percent chance that the contract should come in somewhere between 6.1 million and 7.3 million, a 75 percent chance that the contract comes between 5.9 and 7.5 million, and a roughly 92.5 percent chance that it falls between 5.15 and 8.25 million when going by the smaller sample size.
Of course if it stays true to the original sample size of those projected to make over the minimum, that changes considerably. With those numbers, there lies about a 50 percent chance that he takes home somewhere between 6.35 million and 7.05 million, a 75 percent chance that he winds up taking home 6.075 million and 7.325 million and a 92.5 percent chance that he winds up with a contract worth somewhere between 5.55 million and 7.85 million. The Flames will obviously prefer to keep it to this metric and try and lock Gaudreau up and the best cost that they possibly can.