Things are going pretty well between the two sides but the NHL is bent on making player contracts only up to five years and no longer.
I think there’s actually an easy solution to this problem. The NHL makes only UFA contracts up to five years. Since it’s the UFA contracts where teams are getting hosed, I think it’s a good idea the league does this. Besides you only have a few Unrestricted Free Agents sign contracts longer than five years every offseason.
But I think Restricted Free Agent Contracts should be up to eight years. If teams want to invest eight years into a player that’s 24 years old I don’t think anything’s ridiculous about that. The player is coming out of the contract when he’s 32. Heck even at age 26 (a player’s last year of RFA status) it isn’t absurd a player gets out of the contract when he’s 34. I think there have been a huge chunk of these “lifetime” UFA contracts that have been flops anyway. Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Vinny Lecavalier, Rick DiPietro, Alexei Yashin, etc, etc. The list goes on from there. Five year contracts are the way to go for UFA’s. It’s easier for the players to live up to them, and the team’s take less of a risk when making a big investment in a player.
Also, if a player is 26 years old he may want to take that eight year deal instead of that five year contract the next year. This may encourage him to stay with the team he was “homegrown” by or the team that owns his RFA rights. The NBA does something similar when they let teams exceed the salary cap to keep the players they drafted.
I think it’s a good idea, any thoughts? Be sure to follow me on twitter @Bluelinestation.