As we all know, Jusy 1st is when Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) can sign with any team. This basically means it’s like Christmas for some GMs – find a toy you like and overpay for it in order to make people happy. It’s time we put a scale on new contracts signed on July 1st. I’ve decided to call it The Leino Scale due to his tenure with the Wings and his completely ridiculous and hilarious contract. Let’s go through all five of The Leino Scale values with a couple of recent examples so that you can play along at home on July 1st!
1 out of 5 Leino’s: Good contract for both sides. Fair in term and dollar amount a season. Darren Helm’s new contract is a good example here. Not an over-payment, not an underpayment – a fair contract that represents what the player gives.
2 out of 5 Leino’s: Pretty good contract, but there is a slight over-payment here. I’m thinking Jonathan Ericsson’s contract is 2 out of 5 Leino’s. Big E was probably worth about $2.75 million a season, and he got $3.25 million. A slight over-payments, but if Ken Holland signed a few of these “slight over-payments” on July 1st, no problem at all.
3 out of 5 Leino’s: Contracts that make some sense, but not exactly a smart move. Look at Tomas Vokoun’s new contract with Pittsburgh. $2 million a season for two years. On the surface, that seams like a pretty fair contract, or a 1 out of 5 Leino’s. But when you look at it a little more closely, they’re already paying Marc-Andre Fleury $5 million a season. Spending $2 million on a backup is not usually the best way to spend your money. I’m also putting Todd Bertuzzi’s new contract here. Not a huge over-payment, but the fact that it’s just north of $2 million on a guy with declining skills and gets called (though lots aren’t his fault) for way too many penalties means it’s somewhat of a bad deal.
4 out of 5 Leino’s: Signings that are really bad. You pretty much say “WTF?!?!? after reading or hearing about one of these. Take a look at Dennis Wideman’s new contract that was signed on Wednesday. $5.25 million for 5 seasons. Wow. I understand the UFA market is really thin this year, and defenseman are at a premium, but…really?!?!? REALLY?!?!? Wideman, at best, being generous, is worth $3.5 million a season for 4 years. Yet again, this is the Flames here, who are horrible. Brad Stuart (I’m going to miss you Stewie!!) gets $3.6 million for 3 years. Wideman is a little more offensive, but in their own zone, it’s not even a question.
5 our of 5 Leino’s: Contracts that when you first read them, you literally “LOL” even if you are by yourself. Obviously, Ville Leino’s contract goes here. Wade Redden’s signing by the Rangers a couple of years back satisfies this criteria. Scott Gomez, Jeff Finger, Ron Hainsey, Thomas Vanek (wow two guys on Buffalo. Shocker!). These contracts are amazingly horrible for the amount of production gained before the contact was signed and even worse when you factor in production since said contract was signed.
As a general rule (General Rule -salute-), if a contract is less than 3 million and less than 3 years, it’s hard to get above a 3 on The Leino Scale. There could be exceptions, but generally speaking, giving a guy with any skills $3 million a season for 3 years isn’t a horrible move. To get a 4 or a 5, it has to hurt the teams cap situation dramatically for a number of years.
Let’s look at Leino’s situation a little more to get more background. When Leino was a UFA last season, I thought he was worth between $2.5 and $3 million a season for 3 years max. He had a few bright spots, so giving him that money wouldn’t be horrible. If he turned out to be a bust, it’s still not killing your teams ability to compete. Since Buffalo had new ownership and wanted to excite the fans, I can see overpaying some – maybe giving him $3,5 million for 4 years. But $4.5 million for 6 years? That is the type of contract that can kill a team. You could sign two solid players for that amount. One year later, here is how these contracts would have been value on the current Leino Scale:
$2.5 million for 3 years – 2 out of 5 Leino’s. Cheap enough where if he plays on the third line, no big deal.
$3.5 million for 4 years – 3.5 out of 5 Leino’s. Not completely horrible, but a decently obvious overpayment.
$4.5 million for 6 years – Ladies and Gentleman – The Leino Scale! Tell your friends.
Throughout the next few weeks, I’ll be giving most contracts of note, as well as all Red Wings contracts, a rating on The Leino Scale here on Octopus Thrower. Check back often for updates. Add me on Twitter for updates and other commentary as I make fun of new contracts and either become the happiest person alive or become Mr. Stabby, depending on what the Wings do on July 1st.