By now, I think everyone saw Marc Savard's seven-year deal which pays him a lot in the first four years (7, 7, 6.5, 5) and not much in the last three (1.5, 0.525, 0.525), all with a nice non-cringeworthy cap hit of $4.2 million. Since the topic of a Patrick Marleau extension has come up recently, this adds a little fuel to the fire that the former captain could be affordably retained, even with the impending RFA nightmare of Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi.
I lump Marc Savard in the same category as Joe Thornton in terms of what they bring to the table, which is primarily outstanding playmaking skills. I think most people would agree that Thornton's a better overall player, but that's not really my point right now; when you describe Marleau, you can cite many different things: his shot, his speed, his penalty killing, his defensive awareness, his face-off abilities. As Drew Remenda likes to remind us, you can't teach speed, and as long as Marleau has his speed, he'll be an effective player. Because of that, I think as they age, Marleau brings more all-around qualities that Thornton won't have. That'll be key moving forward, as Thornton and Marleau are at the same stage of their careers, and you have to be very, very careful about who you tie your long-term plans to.
While Joe will most certainly retain his passing vision, you'll almost certainly see a decline with his ability to dish the puck at will (how much decline is anyone's guess) post-34 or so. Does he bring enough to other areas that you'd want to lock him in right now? I think Marleau does, but if you took away Joe's passing, would you find as complete a player?
I suppose, then, the ideal situation from my perspective would be if you extend Joe to a three-year deal, sign Marleau for a longer term, and see how it plays out. Thornton said that he likes extensions of that length anyways, so maybe it'll work out.
So, does Doug Wilson call up Marleau's agent and say, "Hey, check out this contract. You want a similar one?"
I am still hesitant on the actual length of seven years. I don't like deals longer than five years, because here's your worst-case scenario: Marleau blows out his ACL next season and never regains his speed. Suddenly, the $4.2 million cap hit goes from being a bargain to an albatross. Any sort of lengthy commitment winds up killing that potential.
The other side of thinking with this is that if that happened, the Sharks could wait out a few years until he becomes affordable, then they buy him out. One has to assume that the buyout/cap rules will change slightly with the upcoming CBA, so who knows how that will necessarily work, but that would allow for some flexibility when analyzing the risk/reward scenario. I mean, hell, if we're going worst-case, we might as well go best-case too, in that Marleau is still an effective second-line center capable of 65 points and strong two-way play at age 36. That'd be worth $4.2 million.
Oh, and the St. Louis Blues are in town tonight.
The Blue I'd Like On My Team: T.J. Oshie, not because he's a great young player, but because of this commercial.
Don Draper rules.
Prediction: Sharks 4, Blues 1. Goals by Heatley, Setoguchi, Boyle, and Mitchell.