NHL star players are cashing in earlier than ever

George McPhee was asked about the trend of NHL teams signing their young stars to long-term contracts and a wry smile came across the Golden Knights general manager’s face.

“I’m certainly not unfamiliar with it,” he said.

McPhee was GM of the Washington Capitals when the team signed Alex Ovechkin to a record 13-year, $124 million contract extension in 2008. Ovechkin was 22 and in the final season of his three-year, entry-level deal.

The Capitals haven’t won a Stanley Cup with Ovechkin, but the contract might have proven to be ahead of its time.

Last week, Buffalo signed 20-year-old Jack Eichel to the league-maximum eight-year contract ($80 million). The deal comes after Edmonton made budding superstar Connor McDavid, 20, the highest-paid player in the NHL starting next season with an eight-year, $100 million extension.

“If you’re sure on a player, if you’re confident he is what you think he is and he’s going to be the guy who’s going to lead you some place, there seems to be more of that happening now,” McPhee said.

Previously, the top young players signed what was referred to as a “bridge deal” — usually four to five years — before cashing in for big money.

Sidney Crosby received a five-year, $43.5 million deal from Pittsburgh when he was 21 before signing his current 12-year, $104 million contract in June 2012.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of Chicago also had five-year extensions after their entry-level deals.

But as teams deal with a static salary cap ($69 million in 2014-15 and $75 million this season), they are investing in youth rather than through free agency.

Last year, Florida locked down defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 pick in 2014, to an eight-year, $60 million contract. Edmonton gave 21-year-old center Leon Draisaitl an eight-year, $68 million deal this summer.

And next season, Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine of Winnipeg, the top two picks of the 2016 draft, figure to be in a similar situation heading into the final year of their entry-level deal.

“If you have what you think may be a franchise player, certainly it makes sense to go to him and see if you can lock him up if you think he’s the guy that can lead you to a championship,” McPhee said.

Draft prospects

NHL Central Scouting released its preliminary players to watch for the 2018 draft, with 23 prospects earning an ‘A’ rating.

The list includes players from North America and Europe, with ‘A’ ratings considered potential first-round picks.

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin of Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League is the early favorite to go No. 1. Mats Sundin (1989) is the only Sweden-born player to be selected first overall.

“In Sweden, we say (Dahlin) has the vision of a mosquito,” Frolunda general manager Fredrik Sjostrom told NHL.com. “If you try and hit a mosquito, the mosquito can get away because it can process in slow motion. That’s kind of how Rasmus is. He never gets caught or is put in a bad situation because it doesn’t ever come to that.”

Old-time hockey

McDavid, Ovechkin, Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia) and Brandon Saad (Chicago) combined for a bit of history last week when each notched a hat trick in their team’s season opener.

According to The Associated Press, the last time four players scored at least three goals in his season opener was Dec. 19, 1917, in the NHL’s first two games.

Safe to assume Cy Denneny, Harry Hyland, Joe Malone and Reg Noble weren’t clocked at skating over 25 mph on any of their goals like McDavid was on his second.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Fans React To Golden Knights Becoming Number One In NHL
Golden Knights fans on Twitter got excited about the team becoming the number one in the NHL after their win against the Hurricanes.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Hurricanes 5-1
Golden Knights beat reporter Steve Carp goes over the Golden Knights win over the Hurricanes.
Scotty Bowman Is Impressed With The Golden Knights Start
The Hall of Fane coach credits GM George McPhee for putting a strong team on the ice after watching the Knights in Tampa Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
James Neal Proud Of Reaching 20-goal Mark
The veteran forward has had 20 or more goals for 10 straight seasons after scoring Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 against the Panthers in Sunrise, Florida (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Deryk Engelland proud of passing 100-point career milestone
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has 101 career points after two assists vs. Tampa Bay and reflected on it Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant happy with Golden Knights bounce-back performance
The Golden Knights snapped a two-game losing streak Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Tampa with a 4-1 win over the Lightning. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marc-Andre Fleury on the Knights sweeping the Lightning
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 29 shots and was the game’s No. 1 star Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Tampa. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brayden McNabb said Knights win over Lightning a team effort
Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb said everyone contributed to the 4-1 win Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 at Tampa. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights make a statement, beat Lightning
Review-Journal Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and reporter Steve Carp talk about the Golden Knights 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending the Knights' 2-game losing skid.
Golden Knights defeat Lightning 4-1
Golden Edge video host Bryan Salmond recaps the Golden Knights 4-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Todd Richards is happy for Las Vegas having its own NHL team
Todd Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach, spoke about his days with the Las Vegas Thunder on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Tampa (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jonathan Marchessault has fond memories of his time with Lightning
Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault talks about his days with Tampa Bay after practice Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 in Tampa, Florida (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant remains positive despite Golden Knights’ current two-game losing streak
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said his team isn’t discouraged after two straight losses following practice In Tampa Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Predators Shut Out the Golden Knights
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer Steve Carp go over the Golden Knights loss to the Nashville Predators.
Golden Edge: Knights Shut Out By Predators
Bryan Salmond recaps the Golden Knights away game against the Nashville Predators.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland on 1-year contract extension
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland talks about his one-year contract extension following practice on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Golden Knights face the Predators Tuesday night.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights hold Fan Fest on Fremont
Bryan Salmond talks to Golden Knights players, staff and fans during the first Fan Fest held on Fremont Street.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on goalie Malcolm Subban
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about Malcolm Subban and the team's goaltenders. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights Fall To Oilers In Overtime
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal reporters David Schoen and Steve Carp recap the Golden Knights second loss to the Oilers.
Golden Knights React To Loss Against Oilers
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Reilly Smith and Deryk Engelland answer questions in the locker room about their loss against the Oilers.
Gerard Gallant Goes Over The Loss Against Oilers
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant takes question after the loss to the Oilers.
Golden Edge: Interview With Shea Theodore
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interview Golden Knights defensemen Shea Theodore to talk about the fans and how he got into hockey.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant on defenseman Brad Hunt
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about increased playing time for defenseman Brad Hunt on Friday at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Look Ahead: Knights Face Oilers After Break
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal reporters David Schoen and Steve Carp go over what the Golden Knights have to face after their break ends on Saturday.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat New York Rangers
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal reporters Steve Carp and David Schoen go over the Golden Knights win over the New York Rangers.
Karlsson Talks About His Performance During The First Half Of The Season
Golden Knights forward William Karlsson goes over his personal performance during the first half of the NHL season.
James Neal On Golden Knights Week Off From Hockey
Golden Knights forward James Neal talks about the one week vacation the Golden Knights will have before playing the Oilers on Saturday.
Gerard Gallant Talks After Win Against Rangers
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks after the win against the New York Rangers.
Golden Edge: Knights Feel The Blues Against St. Louis
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal reporter Steve Carp go over tonight's Golden Knights game against the St. Louis Blues.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall to The Blues
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond gives a quick recap on tonights Golden Knights game against the St. Louis Blues.
Golden Knights' Jonathan Marchessault on 6-year, $30 million contract extension
Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault addressed his six-year, $30 million contract extension prior to the team's game with St. Louis on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Marchessault signed, Knights on a roll
Bryan Salmond talks to David Schoen about the Golden Knights magical December as well as Jonathan Marchessault's contract extension, including a special picture he has hanging in his locker.
Golden Knights' David Perron says key to team's success is never being satisfied
Golden Knights forward David Perron talks to the media following practice on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, and says the team's hard work and focus as factors in the team's current eight-game winning streak. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights players' favorite hockey Christmas presents
Sticks and skates dominates the list. Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Abandoned Pomeranians adopted through Golden Knights event
Many Pomeranians found their fur-ever homes for the holidays The Animal Foundation and the Vegas Golden Knights hosted a Pucks for Paws event, to kick-off the adoption of 164 Pomeranians found abandoned in Sandy Valley. 5 dogs were available at auction, while 10 more were available in a raffle to benefit Animal Foundation. The dogs were named by Golden Knights players and donned small Knights sweaters. The other Pomeranians will be available through an online raffle, open through Jan. 1
By the numbers: Expectations, challenges for Las Vegas’ WNBA team
The newly relocated Las Vegas WNBA franchise will begin play in the 2018 season. New owners MGM Resorts will integrate a professional franchise into Las Vegas’ busy sports landscape that’s shared with the 51s, Lights FC, Golden Knights and Raiders. Here are some of the expectations and challenges the team will have. 1. Ticket prices: The key to any sports franchise is selling season tickets and group outings. For Las Vegas’ team, that starts with locals. "(You don’t) just open the doors and tell everybody you’ve got a game and stand there waiting to sell tickets," 51s president Don Logan said. "You’ve got to get out, you’ve got to get out into the community and you’ve got to do everything we do. There’s no easy way." Last year, San Antonio charged $12 to $165 for single-game tickets for 17 home games. 2. Creating an identity: Coach Bill Laimbeer inherits a team from San Antonio that hasn’t made the playoffs or had a winning season since 2012. Las Vegas' team is also a franchise that lost its first 14 games last season before finishing a league-worst 8-26. 3. Patience will be required: Will they have to fill all 12,000 seats at Mandalay Bay for the season to be deemed successful? "They have to be realistic," Connecticut Sun CEO Mitchell Etess said. "If they could get 5,000 bodies into every single game, that would be pretty good for the first year."
VGK University: Introduction to hockey, and much more
Vegas Golden Knights officials Misha Donskov and Murray Craven chat about VGK University, a five-course instructional for hockey fans, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Dec. 3, 2017. (Ron Kantowski/ Las Vegas Review Journal)
Nate Quote
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt is leading the team in time on ice. He talks about the adjustment to the style of play in the Pacific Division, as well as his pregame "Magic trick" ritual. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights goaltender Maxime Lagace on starting in goal
Golden Knights goaltender Maxime Lagace talks about his journey to becoming the starting goaltender Saturday, Nov. 12, 2017 at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt talks about goaltender Maxime Lagace at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights forward William Karlsson
Golden Knights forward William Karlsson on the team's blue-collar mentality. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about his team's accountability in the locker room. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like