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09-17-2004, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by I in the Eye
Could the NHL provide the individual teams with 'suggested player values' (regardless of what economic system is agreed to in the CBA)?
The NHL can't do anything to suppress wages without the union's blessing. Nothing. Nada. I suppose they could do this if everyone ignored the suggestion. If the suggestion had a real impact, it is illegal.

That way, even in a 'free market system', the individual team GM's (and owners) have a 'suggested' benchmark when negotiating contracts with player agents- based on what the NHL and the team's peers value the player to be worth... i.e. interpretation of 'player value' no longer becomes just an individual GM/team decision - but the GM/team is armed with the knowledge of what the NHL and the other teams think the player is worth as well...
Everybody already does that. One of the myths perpetrated by the NHL is that different teams value different players differently prior to the date the player becomes a UFA. The benchmark is the salary paid to similar players around the league.

A player like, say, Simone Gagne is worth a lot more in Philadelphia than in Edmonton in the sense that the Flyers will generate more revenue with him and they can afford to pay more. But they do not pay more for him. That would be very silly. They do not pay more for Gagne than they have to pay for him.

The Flyers have exactly the same leverage over the player as the Oilers do. They pay what the market says they should pay. If Gagne went to arbitration, the Flyers can enter Oiler contracts to support their case. Gagne's agent can't reject those contracts because he is worth more in Philly than in Alberta.

Even if the Rangers pay Holik $9 million, the Rangers (and the rest of the teams) know that the NHL and the other teams value Holik to be $3.5 million, for example. Next season, if Holik plays terrible, the NHL and the owners 'suggested player value' for Holik goes down to $2 million - even though he is still being paid $9 million... Is this legal?
Once Holik becomes a free agent, comparables are meaningless. Holik did not get $9 million because LeClair and Sundin get that or because Guerin got that. He got $9 million because there was another team offering $8.75 million.

At that point in his career, at least 20 teams would not have paid him even $3 million. The Canucks were grooming Artem Chubarov for Holik's role. They were prepared to lose games paying Chubie $800,000 they might have won paying Holik $3 million. When the team is 20 points from a playoff spot, it is stupid to pay $2.2 million extra to miss the playoffs by 10 points. Even if he was already a Canuck they would not retain him because a team that is 20 points from a playoff spot is always better going with a young player than with a veteran in decline.

The Rangers - foolishly - thought Holik could be the difference between making the playoffs and missing them. In their spreadsheet that made him worth at least $9 million. Whatever they decided he was worth, they would have paid less if they could have paid less. If Holik's second best offer was $4.75 million, he is making $5 million today.


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