By Andy Rummel
Because one needs to be market savvy in this new day and age of NHL salary caps, you need to get yourself someone who is ahead of the curve. One way to keep all of your players is via the Red Wings ‘over-extension long term’ route, a loophole in the rules that is sure to be closed during the next CBA. The other is about making frugal and smart signings, especially with your restricted free agents.
Enter Ray Shero.
His signing today of offensive defenseman Alex Goligoski is a perfect example of how to handle your homegrown talent. The former 2004 second round pick (61st overall) today signed a 3 year deal at 5.5 million total, or a contract that has a salary cap hit of 1.83 per year. The first reaction of many fans was a collective groan, but a second glance at the transaction shows the intelligence behind this signing. ‘Gogo’ has played in a total of 48 NHL games, collecting 6 goals and 16 assists for 22 total points and a + 7 plus/minus. Those are very solid numbers for a rookie defenseman (and remember, 45 of those games with the Penguins were primarily at the start of this past NHL season, before the Disco Dan Bylsma attack hockey started). Let’s assume that works out to 10 goals and 26 assist over a season. 36 points are nothing to be ashamed of at all. And a plus 10 as a rookie? Yes, that means he outscores all the defensemen on the Penguins except Gonchar’s projected stats, and has a plus minus similar to all of those ‘experienced’ defensemen who will all be getting paid more than him this upcoming year (I will mention that this is not including Letang, who is still ‘young/inexperienced’ and on his entry level contract).
Of course there is risk involved in this. Some will say that his salary cap number is too big for the first full year, but I would say that he has shown enough in his play to date that he is a known commodity. And some will say that at the age of 23, his 5’11” 180 pound frame could definitely use some bulking up. There is no doubt some more muscle will help. He definitely has struggled sometimes when he has had to battle with larger forwards, though it wasn’t as though he was dominated. He makes up for that lack in size by having that 'knack', that certain thing that allows players like Sergei Zubov to play forever. They don’t make huge hits or make a ton of body contact, but they’re always skating out of the scrum with the puck on their sticks and their heads up looking to make that next outlet/scoring pass. Fans in Pittsburgh always complained that Zubov would never shoot the puck, but the Pens weren’t the same for years after he left.
So how good could Mr. Goligoski be in the future? Only time will tell, but I’m betting that it will be considered a ‘steal’ by the time it’s all said and done.
“Alex is a skilled young defenseman and a tremendous skater, and we are pleased to sign him to a multi-year deal as we continue to build our young core,” Ray Shero said. “He gained some valuable experience this season and made contributions to our Stanley Cup run. He is another example of a great future here in Pittsburgh."
“I wanted to stay a Penguin for a long time,” Goligoski said. “The way they treat you here and with this group of guys here, I think we can be a contender every year. I want to be a winner so it was an easy decision. I’m glad we were able to get (the contract) done early. It’s just really exciting right now.”
“This last two weeks has been unbelievable,” Goligoski said. “It feels awesome. It’s a really cool experience (winning the Cup). It’s something I was able to go through and it’s a surreal thing. You dream about it growing up and for it to happen is a really cool thing.”