Monday, July 30, 2007

Easy Ryder

In an off-season where restricted free agents have really been cashing in, Montreal's Michael Ryder avoided arbitration yesterday afternoon by inking a decidedly under-market one-year, $2.95-million deal.

And while that may seem like quite the concession by a player who notched 30 goals the past two seasons, it puts him in a position to walk on July 1, 2008, and should he have a big year, get a lot more cake as an unrestricted free agent.

Ryder's agent, Thane Campbell, had been talking hardball in the leadup to the weekend, and it seemed both his client and the Kings' Michael Cammalleri were headed to an arbitrator this week. Was it a change of heart — or did Ryder simply opt for the easiest ticket out of Montreal? And will Cammalleri follow suit, even though his 80-point season may mean a big payday in arbitration?

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At 6:37 a.m., July 30, 2007, Anonymous Danny said...

I don't think the Habs see him in their future. They keep giving him 1 year contracts. I think since they would give him a longer one, he will sign with someone else next year.

At 9:56 a.m., July 30, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

I don't know if Montreal sees him in their future or not, but Ryder's been the most difficult RFA for the Habs to sign for 3 straight summers. I think that more reflects on the player and his agent rather than the team's startegy, since Gainey has moved pretty quickly with pretty much everyone else on his roster every summer.

He wants every dollar available to him and I don't think he cares if it's from Montreal or not in the future. Really, the only question is whether Montreal should try and move him or not... they have to treat him as an asset they won't have come the 2008-09 season.

At 1:52 p.m., July 30, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

I think Ryder and his agent have recognized a recent trend that could result in big dollars for average and even marginal UFAs next year.

It has been conventional wisdom that next year was going to produce a bumper crop of talented UFAs for teams to bid on. However, over the last two months we have seen a lot of these talented potential UFAs being taken off next year's market by signing long term contract extensions one year ahead of their contracts expiring.

This includes Iginla, Thornton, Regehr, Zubov, Visnovsky, and Toskla to name the most prominent. Also, a potential RFA - Crosby - has been taken off next year's market. There is also reason to believe that over the next few months we might see many more taken off the market - by signing long term deals - including Heatley and Marleau.

As a result, that bumper crop is quickly turning into pretty slim pickings.

Now on the demand side of the equation - if the cap increases by another $5 million there will be plenty of money to spend next year. Especially for teams that will have a lot of older non productive players having their contracts expire. For example, in the case of the Vancouver Canucks, they will have Naslund's, Morrison's and Cooke's contracts expiring giving them $10.7 million of cap space plus the possible $5 million of space from an increased salary cap.

The expectation in Vancouver has been that the Canucks would use that $15 million to go after one or two big names. However, by next year those players may not be there. Therefore, we are going to see a lot of money now chasing a few average and very marginal UFAs - like Ryder - and bidding their salaries up to unbelievable levels because of the very limited supply.

Another resulting development we might see is that since there will be few quality UFAs to bid on, teams with a lot of cap space to spend, and desperate for a big name player, will have no choice but to go after big name RFAs on teams that are up against the cap or their own self imposed budget. This could include Semin, Ovechkin, Richards, Carter, Getzlaff, Perry, Bouwmeister etc..

Teams may be reluctant to do this because of the loss of draft picks - but they may have no other choice if the UFAs keep being re-signed ahead of time.

Therefore, to sum up, players like Ryder are now seeing the possibility of cashing in big time next year because of the limited supply of big name players. Also, look for many more RFA offer sheets from many more GMs next year. Finally, as a defensive measure, look for many more contract extensions of UFAs and RFAs in the next couple of months, where a team's cap space next year will allow it.

At 5:09 p.m., July 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only reason I can see Ryder taking below market value on his current contract is to position himself as free agent next summer and make a killing where he chooses to be.


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