Back in March, I wrote of Brooks Laich’s impending contract negotiations that “if he got $4.5 million a year, I would be concerned, but still okay” with the deal. Looks like the Caps hit the offer right on the nose today when they announced Brooks’ new six-year, 27 million dollar contract.
At first thought, it’s a lot of money. Laich isn’t going to put up 30 goals a year, even on an offensively gifted team, and at best, he’ll be the third line center. Do you really want to pay your third line center 4.5 a year? But more than that, I can’t help but be concerned about the term. Six years is a long time in the NHL, especially when you consider the Caps will have a lot of young players to sign over the next few years, and he will be pushing 34 by the end of the deal (and please, please pray to the deity or non-deity of your choice that the salary cap continues to rise every year).
I understand that the Caps got a break here. Laich probably would have cleaned up in free agency, especially with so many teams that need to add salary in order to reach the floor, and with a lot of those same teams interested in young veteran role players. But I’m not so sure I buy the argument that overpaying Brooks Laich just a bit is good because the Capitals ended up not overpaying him by a lot.
At the end of the day, he’s probably still being overpaid. You can chalk that up to the exigencies of a fairly slim free agent market, but in my view, it’s management’s job to recognize when an asset is being overvalued in a slim market, and make sure they don’t fall into that same trap.
As with all things, we will know more about whether this deal is “good” or not as time passes. Laich has to continue to produce and be versatile, and the Caps need to have enough cap room to keep their younger talents and fill holes with NHL players if they have them. I just think there’s an awful lot of “ifs” involved to turn this into something that works out well in the end.