It’s been a lengthy series so far, but the end is in sight as we are dissecting each Jets contract to see which deals help or hurt the team. There’s been four posts so far, as we began with the worst contracts and have been working our way towards the best. There was a bit of a break as the fourth post covered the youngsters currently on ELC’s.
As mentioned before, we are nearing the end which means it’s time that we get to the players with valuable contracts. Once again, valuable contracts aren’t just the cheapest deals on the team. The player’s role in the organization as well as expected performance based on the contract are all factors at play. Today’s players are all at various points in their careers and their earnings, but each one represents a valuable contract to the team.
It might seem a little odd that a player coming off an arbitration case has a valuable contract for the team. It’s possible that I just like Andrew Copp as a hockey player more than most other people. Whatever the case may be, I believe Copp’s contract provides decent value for the team.
Over the past few seasons, Andrew Copp has continued to improve his game. He was a massive part of the TLC line that thoroughly dominated all competition two years ago. The more we saw of each player last year, the more it became apparent that Lowry and Copp were the main drivers of that line together. Copp transitioned back to centre ice last year where he manned the fourth line and added much needed defensive prowess on the bottom line.
If Copp stays as the fourth line centre, than this deal is merely average. Paying just over two million per season might even be a slight overpayment for a fourth line player. On the other hand, we have seen Copp play up in the lineup in the past and he is able to make an impact no matter where he slots into the lineup.
Having a relatively cheap player that can do multiple things on the ice is extremely valuable as Copp can kill penalties, play responsible hockey in his own end, and even chip in a little bit offensively.
The two year term is standard for a bottom six player and it gives both parties to review where things are at in the not too distant future. Overall, given Copp’s utility all over the ice, his contract provides strong value to club.
AAV – 3.5
Term – 3.5
Overall value – 3.5
Beaulieu’s recent signing was a really strong move by Cheveldayoff. It’s a low risk, high reward type of deal which is great for the team. With so much uncertainty around the blueline, Beaulieu will likely get a chance to log a decent amount of ice-time this year. For a player who hasn’t quite broken through as a full time NHL player, next season will give him a perfect opportunity.
In the brief time Beaulieu was with the team last season, he fit in nicely alongside Trouba as he played nearly 17 minutes per game. If Beaulieu can continue to feel comfortable heading into next season, he might find his way into a top four role with the team.
Beaulieu’s contract is only for one season which allows the Jets time to re-evaluate next summer if Beaulieu doesn’t perform well. It’s a low risk option because they only gave out a one year contract. In addition to a short term, the Jets only signed Beaulieu for a cap hit of $1 million. If Beaulieu can break through and thrive alongside Byfuglien on the second pairing, this deal could turn into a massive bargain.
The only potential issue is if Beaulieu performs well, he might run away in free agency next summer, similar to Ben Chiarot this off-season. That can’t be prevented and I’m sure the Jets would gladly take a strong season from Beaulieu even if it means he’s gone after one season.
AAV – 4
Term – 4
Overall value – 4
It might seem odd that Byfuglien is near the top of the list given his injury struggles last season, but Byfuglien’s time on the ice last year was fantastic. He finished with his highest points per game since playing as a forward back in his first year in Winnipeg. If Byfuglien can continue to be as effective next season, having a true number one defensmen at only $7.6 million per season is a bargain.
The main issue is if Byfuglien’s age catches up to him. Although he doesn’t get injured too often, he hasn’t played a full season since before leaving Chicago in 2010. The nice part of Byfuglien’s contract is that there are only two years left which means that even if Byfuglien slows down, the Jets aren’t committed to having him around as he approaches his late thirties.
When looking at defensemen across the league, Byfuglien’s cap hit ranks 10th. It’s by no means a stretch to say Byfuglien is in the top 10 defensemen given his enormous impact on the team.
Byfuglien’s also important to the locker room as he helps lead the team every night. He’s able to bring intensity while still having fun on the ice. He’s such a unique person that it’s hard to come up with comparable players across the league.
Given Byfuglien’s important leadership and strong stats from last season, his current contract looks like a fairly strong deal for the organization. If Byfuglien can stay healthy, the next two years could be some of Byfuglien’s best. That makes a top 10 cap hit totally worth it given Byfuglien’s strong impact for the club.
AAV – 4
Term – 3.5
Overall value – 4