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10-10-2003, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Originally Posted by Hobo
He would be a candidate for close to the rookie max under the CBA which I think is close to $1 million. But the problem is the Joe Thornton bonuses on bonuses - and you know B.B. will dig his fat Irish heels in and say he's not going to offer big money to a kid who's never scored a point as a pro when he's got players like Matt Cooke making $525. Umberger came out here last year and was bunking with the Klatts. My guess is he's a kid who's heart is in the mid-west and he's hoping to weasel out of Vancouver into an American market. He should be a big boy, sign as short a deal as he can, come out and show he's ready to play, spend a lovely warm winter in Winnipeg, then shop himself under the new CBA if he doesn't want to play for the greatest hockey franchise in the history of time.
Burke is an idiot and a horrible contract negotiator as he proved during his first tour of duty in Vancouver (Bure, Nedved , Linden the Krutov arbitration, etc.). He now usually leaves contracts in the more than capable hands of Dave Nonis because everytime he gets involved things blow up - as here.

If Umberger signs any contract other than what he has asked for then he loses his free agency status and his leverage - until you hit 31 and are a free agent few player have such leverage and you do not give it up. Why would he possibly want to do anything that stupid which would take away his options when he can wait until June 2004 and become a free agent under the Van Ryn exception?

Actually Umberger is from Pittsburgh but he played three years at Ohio State. At the moment as long as Umberger is prepared to hold out until June 2004, he can have his pick of teams. I suspect there are any number of them who would sign potential No. 6 forward playing as a big centre with soft hands, great skating and a huge offensive upside. Remember he was a Hobey Baker finalist last year leading Ohio State in scoring and was slated to captain the team if he returned. Ryan Kesler put up good numbers as well but that was playing with Umberger, when he was moved off the line his production dropped - Umberger kept putting up points.

His agent has said repeatedly that he wants to sign in Vancouver but that he wants to be paid the same as other draft picks in the first round, some of whom were drafted below him.

The amount that Umberger is seeking is not out of line with other prospects drafted that year and that is all you can go by as these players are signed before playing in the NHL. Your argument that Umberger should take less than others in his situation have taken and prove himself is completely out of step with how first round contracts are signed. They prove themselves by making the NHL after the contract is signed. Second rounders often sign for the past year's rookie maximum as did Mike Camalleri drafted at #49 that year by LA ($1.075). The problem with US college players is that they cannot sign contracts, sign with agents or come to NHL rookie camps without losing their college eligibility. So you pay them based on where they went in the draft.

Under the CBA he will be locked in for three years and the contract is automatically a two way deal at a much reduced minor pro rate. You seem to be ignoring the latter provision because if he is not good enough then he spends time in the AHL at the much reduced rate. If he does well and hits his bonuses (unlike Allen and the Sedins) then the Canucks should be happy given their past first rounders as noted above. Remember it was Burke this year who said he was happy to pay the contract bonuses to Naslund, Bertuzzi and Jovanovski if they earned them. If Burke wants to teach him a lesson - sign him and bury him in the AHL for two or three years - that will "teach him" and the Canucks will not be much out of pocket while Umberger at least will be playing and learning the system. You then at least have an asset under contract that you can package in a deal if you want and not simply lose for a compensatory second round pick.

BTW here is what I have found on other first rounders of his year all signed at the rookie maximium. Umberger was drafted #12:

7. Komisarek
9. Ruutu
10. Blackburn
13. Hemsky
17. Colaiacovo

Burke's position makes little sense because if Umberger is not good enough to crack the NHL and goes to the minors, then he automatically will be paid the lesser amount in the minors since all rookie contracts are automatically two-way per the CBA. If he is good enough to play and make the bonuses which are not that easy to achieve (note the Sedins never made theirs even with all the quality ice team they were given nor did Bryan Allen who all received rookie maximum contracts and few rookies ever do), then he should be a find. Burke is being stupid and stubborn but that is not unusual given his past negotiating history.

Why play hardball with someone who can simply wait you out and sell his services to the highest bidder under the terms of the CBA? If he signs with another team as a free agent the best Burke can obtain is a compensatory pick at the end of the second round (#61 plus) which is not a good deal for an overall #12 pick.

Here is the analysis of his talent from Hockey Futures:

"Umberger is an excellent blend of size and skill. For a big young man, he skates almost effortlessly, with a smooth, powerful stride which often leaves opposing forwards in his tracks. His offensive game is still a tad unpolished, yet well-developed for a younger player. Good passing skills, and a hard shot are attributes that describe him well.

Defensively, it has been said in the past that Umberger is a player who lacks desire. He is not always overly willing to come back and help out in his own zone; which has brought others to think that he's unmotivated. That said, he still needs a bit of work in this area.

One other thing he would be well-advised to work on is his physical play. For someone with such good size, Umberger is not overly physical. If he were to add this element to his game, and put on some weight, we might see the second-coming of Todd Bertuzzi, although probably less skilled."

As the Canucks have been looking for a big centre for years, it would be stupid to lose one with this amount of potential. However we are dealing with Brian Burke after all, not noted for his smarts when it comes to such things.

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