Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Did the Jets overpay for Pavelec?

Reason #947 why you don't need to pay a goalie: any team in hockey could have signed Mike Smith last summer for a measly $2 million a year.

Yes, the same Mike Smith that went 38-18-10 with a .930 SV% and 8 shutouts in the regular season before going Superman on us in the playoffs and nearly carrying the Coyotes all the way to Stanley Cup Finals, was the 28th highest paid goalie in hockey last year.

Which brings us to the 5 year/$19.5M contract the Winnipeg Jets and Ondrej Pavelec agreed to. There is no doubt Pavelec, despite posting the 34th best SV% in the NHL last year, is a decent goalie with the potential to improve. What there is doubt about is whether spending almost $4M a year on only half of your goalie position is a prudent use of cap space.

Below is the starting goalie salary for each of the last 10 Stanley Cup Finalists:

2012: Kings, Quick - $1.9M and Devils, Brodeur - $5.2M
2011: Bruins, Thomas - $6M and Canucks, Luongo - $10M
2010: Hawks, Niemi - $827K and Flyers, Leighton/Boucher - $750K (avg.)
2009: Penguins, Fleury - $3.5M and Red Wings, Osgood - $1.7M
2008: Red Wings, Osgood - $800K - and Penguins, Fleury - $1.6M

By my math that is 6 of the 10 playoff starters that were paid less than $2M a year, and going even further, 5 of the 10 teams (Detroit twice, Pens in '08, Hawks, Flyers and Kings) spent less than $3M total on the goaltending position. 

Recent history suggests a team that pinches pennies on the goalie position is actually more likely to reach the Finals than one that doesn't.