Jeff Skinner Signs For Six Years, $34.35million

The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that they have re-signed young forward Jeff Skinner to a 6 year contract that will pay him $4.35m in the first year and $6m per year after that, resulting in a cap hit of $5.725m per year.  The deal will kick in after Skinner completes the final year of his entry level deal, at the beginning of the 2013-14 season.

This is a very interesting move, and one that could affect a lot of the leagues young forwards soon to come off their entry level contracts.  In my opinion, this rather a dramatic overpay, and for no good reason other than they must believe Skinner will break out to be a 40 goal, 80 point guy this year – that’s what a $6m a year guy does.  NOT a kid – a very talented kid, mind you – who had a really good rookie year (fuelled partly by a high-ish shooting percentage and playing easy minutes) and then an ok year this season just gone.  He is going to be a really good player in this league, no doubt – but is he really that much better than John Tavares who signed a 6-year, $5.5m a year contract last summer?  Seems a little unproven to me.

In my mind you need to see a guy either exponentially improve year over year, or at least maintain a certain level of play.  If I were Jim Rutherford, I would have waited the extra year to see exactly what he had in Skinner.  It is entirely possible that Skinner could become a player deserving of that kind of money, but at this point he is not that; nor do I seem him ever being a bargain on that contract – i.e. someone who overproduces relative to his salary.

This is also interesting in terms of how it will affect other young players hoping to cash in on their second contracts.  Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Evander Kane – all looking to sign new contracts shortly (Kane is up first, the other two next year – although they can be signed now, as Skinner was).  I would argue that all three of those players have a higher upside than Skinner, and have greater impact on their respective teams’ success – and I’m not even sure any of them are worth nearly $6m per year!  Only the best of the best should be getting that amount of dough – Weber, Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Stamkos, Gomez… Ok maybe not the last guy, but you get the drift.

The next few months will be extremely interesting to follow as these young players get signed.

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