Hot on the heels of locking up essential 11th defenceman Mark Borowiecki, the Senators announced (and by Senators I mean Eugene Melnyk on a conference call talking about something else) that they’ve signed Clarke MacArthur to a five year deal paying him less than $5MM a year.
I don’t think there’s much in the way of analysis needed here: it’s just an awesome signing all around. When you look at what NHL salaries are doing, and what they’re likely to do in the next few seasons, this is great value for a top six forward with great possession numbers who you know can play in your lineup. With Kyle Turris’ high value contract they’ve got 2/3rds of a top line locked down for about $8MM. So let’s take a moment and applaud management for a well negotiated deal.
MacArthur was heading to UFA status in a market where someone like Mikhail Grabovski – also an effective possession forward – gets $5MM a year. So he might have left money on the table here. But keep in mind that this is a player who wanted to stay in the area (I think that’s how Ottawa signed him to that first high value deal in the first place), and a player who, inexplicably, hasn’t really stuck anywhere. I don’t think MacArthur was treated like a core player in Buffalo, Atlanta, or Toronto. In Ottawa he played a career high in ice time (17:38 a game; his career average is 15:24), was trusted to play on the top line, and now he’s got the term to go along with it. He rewarded the team’s trust in him by signing for less.
So THIS is what they mean when they say “the deal has got to work for both sides.”
I’ve seen a couple of blogs talk about how players decline as they hit their 30s, and I think that’s fair. MacArthur also had a 15.1% shooting percentage last year, so I don’t think you’re going to see him light it up this season, or any season soon. (Or, as Melnyk put it, “tear up the ice” which…what?) But MacArthur is in that sweet spot of being a core player on a reasonable deal and yet not being considered a star. The expectations will always be just right for him. Put up 40-50 points; be defensively responsible; and don’t make too much money. The fans will never turn on you this way.
Judging by the fan poll over on Silverseven, you guys like the deal a whole lot. As of today a whopping 95% of the almost 600 people who’ve voted like the deal.
One wonders who’s next. I think when you have a whole host of pending UFAs, one contract can be a sign of others soon to come. It’s a signal that the team will spend to keep its core together. I’m going to guess the team finds a way to get Methot under contract, Anderson looks at the ridiculous goalie market and opts to sign cheaply to back up Lehner, and the Ryan contract goes quite a bit longer. I hope I’m wrong about that last one.