William Nylander picked a great time to cash in. After two consecutive 80-point seasons, including last year's 40-goal, 87-point campaign, the Toronto Maple Leafs star winger was a sure thing to earn $10 million-plus in average annual value (AAV). Waiting 37 games to sign proved even more lucrative. Nylander was well on his way to a 40-goal, 100-point season and got to cash in as the game's fifth-highest cap hit next year with an eight-year, $92 million contract.
He's technically not the league's highest-paid winger. Artemi Panarin edges out Nylander's $11.5 million cap hit by $142,857 annually. Still, Panarin hit the unrestricted free-agent market to get that deal from the New York Rangers. Nylander was negotiating with one team, even with the leverage to test those UFA waters in 45 games.
If you're wondering what Kirill Kaprizov is thinking about this, we only need Google Translate. Type "price of the brick going up" and read what comes out on the Russian side. That's probably gonna give you an idea.
We've seen teams hand out mega contracts over the last 18 months. Nathan MacKinnon got an eight-year deal worth $12.6 million per season. Auston Matthews got a four-year contract that earns him $13.25 million per season and lets him hit free agency again entering his age-31 season. They're both superstars and perennial MVP candidates, but they weren't the best one-to-one comparisons with Kaprizov.
For one, they're centers, and it's safe to call them a half-step above even a healthy Kaprizov in value. Those guys are regular Hart Trophy finalists. Kaprizov could conceivably snag a Hart Trophy, but that would have to come in some sort of career year.
Nylander, though? That's a different story. Not only are they both wingers and skilled, point-amassing offensive stars, but Kaprizov is also a half-step up from Nylander. Maybe even a full step. It's Tale of the Tape time.
Here is how they stack up over the last two-and-a-half seasons:
Where does Nylander have the advantage? You could probably say durability. He's played 18 more games (and counting) than Kaprizov over that span. Well, that and his locks. Feathered and lethal. But even playing 18 fewer games, Kaprizov equals or betters Nylander's counting stats.
None of this is a knock on Nylander, either. If he's 80-90% the player Kaprizov is, that's a fantastic player. Make no mistake, though, if Nylander is an $11.5 million player, Kaprizov's driving the price further up.
If Nylander isn't Kaprizov's equal, then who is? Evolving-Hockey has a Skater Similarity tool that allows us to look at his first three seasons in the league. Let's take a quick look at the top 10 players similar to Kaprizov at his age:
Interestingly, David Pastrnak is No. 1 on this list. The Boston Bruins winger is enjoying a contract with an $11.25 million cap hit. Looking just one spot down the list, we see... David Pastrnak again, that's odd. Let's check out spot No. 3 and... OK, OK, fine, Kaprizov is basically David Pastrnak. We get it.
Of course, you might also notice other big-money players on this list. Mikko Rantanen ($9.25 million AAV) and Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million AAV) stand out in particular. But not only did they sign their deals in the 2010s, it's simply impossible to ignore that combination of similarity and the massive payday Pastrnak got when thinking about Kaprizov's prospects for an extension.
$11.25 million makes Pastrnak (currently) the seventh-highest-paid player in the league next year. But what's funny is that before the ink dried on the page, pundits called that cap hit a massive win... for the Boston Bruins. A discount, even! The Athletic's Dom Luszczyszyn pegged his value at $14.0 million against the salary cap.
If we believe that Nylander is about 80 to 90% of the player Kaprizov is, that makes sense, too. If we slap 10, then 20% onto Nylander's $11.5 million AAV, we get a contract somewhere between $12.65 and $13.8 million.
But is Kaprizov going to look to get that from Minnesota? It's hard to say he won't try. Remember, in his first contract negotiation with Bill Guerin, Kaprizov not only secured a $9 million cap hit but also secured the right to hit free agency in five years rather than eight. It was a Matthews-type deal.
It's also helpful to remember just how unprecedented Kaprizov's contract was. Kaprizov had only played 55 games and landed a deal where he took up 11.04% of the salary cap space. Of his most comparable contracts, no player who got 10% or more of the salary cap had anywhere in that ballpark. Vladimir Tarasenko comes the closest, but even his 179 games at the time of his 2015 contract were more than three times the experience Kaprizov had.
Pairing this with the knowledge that the Wild either should be or are desperate to keep their only bona fide superstar in franchise history and $13 to 14 million on Kaprizov's next contract looks less absurd by the day. Big Willie Style is paving the way for Kaprizov to break the bank like we've never seen before from a winger.
Цена на кирпич растет.
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