No word on terms, no word on structure, no word on anything but the news reported by WFLA Newschannel 8 late last night and mirrored in the Tampa Tribune is that Pat Morris and Jay Feaster have hammered out a new contract for Brad.
More details as they come to light.
Update: Thank you TSN. $39 million dollar deal over five years. Whoa.
This is something that can be looked like as handcuffing the franchise financially-- even if it locks up the teams best player. Unlike the Lecavalier deal last year, I do believe the money is wisely invested in Brad who is indeed the team's franchise player (while Lecavalier gets all the talk and press). Between Brad, Vinny and Martin St. Louis, half the cap (projected cap) $19.1 million is invested in three players. Meanwhile -- Ruslan Fedotenko is a restricted free agent, Pavel Kubina (one of the few veterans left on the Lightning defense) is an Unrestricted free agent..
Update #2: The Lightning's payroll tracker from TSN can be found here. 13 players under contract with only 12 of them playing (the 13th man and his 625K cap hit is Dave Andreychuk). They stand with a $33.327 million cap hit as of right now.
The Lightning's complete Free Agent list (both RFA's and UFA's) can be found here along with the free agents of every other team in the NHL.
Most of the lower line players -- Ryan Craig, Evgeny Artyuhkin, Martin Cibak and Dmitry Afanasenkov -- are restricted free agents. It'll be interesting to see if any movement is made to bring back players who were overseas this past year (Nikita Alexeev, Eric Perrin and UFA Shane Willis) or if costs will dictate their further exile from the Lightning. Willis is a UFA and Perrin is group IV. Only Alexeev, who played for Avasgaard Omsk last season, is an RFA.
Update #3: Just wanted to repost the numbers that are being passed around out there on the Internet right now with regards to what Brad's accomplished (and his value to the team because of it):
- He is the only player in franchise history to post five consecutive 60-point seasons and three consecutive 70-point seasons
- He has missed only two games in his first five seasons*
- He ranks fifth in team history with 107 goals
- He ranks ninth in the NHL in points during the past five seasons (368), first on the Lightning and among players 26 or younger
- Since the 2000-01 season, he ranks third in the NHL in assists with 261, trailing only Joe Thornton and Jaromir Jagr
- He ranks second among NHL forwards in games played since 2000-01 (408)
* sidenotes: Richards 2 games missed were while attending the funeral for his grandfather.
Vinny Lecavalier outweighs Brad Richards in tenure and certain statistics but with overall value to the team... Richards wins. I've said it before.
But is anyone worth that kind of money? Several fans around the league know that's not the truth... And several fans of pro-sports in general can attest that large, lump-sum contracts on even the most talented of players can be a drag over time on their respective franchises.
Update #4: One of the evils of the Richards contract being done so quickly with such a high number is that it sets the bar for the upcoming free agent season. We're not out of May and the bar for a marquee restricted free agent is 7.8 million dollars.
Anyone remember my post last year complaining about players not taking less for the sake of maintaining the competativeness of their teams? That's perfectly true in this case and any optimism shown by this signing is trying to put a silver lining on a rather cloudy, grey season of Lightning hockey.
I still firmly believe that the reprocussions of the new CBA and teams and players throwing out more big money contracts isn't going to truly be felt for a few years (maybe next offseason, or the following) when rosters get crunched... If the salary cap ceiling keeps climbing, though, it's going to take longer for sanity to be reigned in.
And by the way -- new poll up here on Boltsmag on the Richards contract.