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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Brent Seabrook Deal Exemplifies Roster And Negotiation Issues

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SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 31: Brent Seabrook
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 31: Brent Seabrook /
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SAN JOSE, CA – JANUARY 19: Anton Stralman
SAN JOSE, CA – JANUARY 19: Anton Stralman /

The other defensemen

Comparing Seabrook’s contract to those of other defensemen is a little complicated because the league is always in flux. Sure, Seabrook gets paid more than Karlsson or Ekman-Larsson, but their big deals have not come yet as they are both younger than Seabrook.

But what we can look at are deals given to defensemen around the same time as Seabrook who are around his age.

Two signings that stand out around Seabrook’s came in the 2014 offseason. They are Matt Niskanen and Anton Stralman. Both men were 28 when they signed their deal, so relatively the same age as Seabrook.

Niskanen signed a seven-year, $5.75 million a year contract, and Stralman signed a five-year, $4.5 million AAV deal.

Chicago Blackhawks

When Niskanen signed in Washington, he had been an incredibly productive defenseman his previous three seasons in Pittsburgh. He was a plus-46 over the three years and totaled 63 points. In order from 2011-12 to 2013-14, his Corsi-for percentage was 57.5, 51.5 and 53.5, and his relative Corsi was 3.1, 4.2 and 6.9.

He was the complete package as he averaged only 10.2 more giveaways than takeaways during the three years, drove possession for his team and contributed offensively every season. The seven-year, $5.75 million AAV deal may look similar to Seabrook’s, but it costs the Capitals $1 million less a year and will end when Niskanen is 35; not 38 like Seabrook.

On top of all of this, Niskanen did receive a no-trade clause, but is limited to a 15-team list that he can give the Capitals. In the event Washington wants to move the defenseman, they will be able to receive a list from Niskanen and still have half the league to negotiate with in order to move him.

Then there is Stralman. Stralman battled injury in the 2011-12 season with the New York Rangers, playing in only 53 games and not producing amazing stats. But in 2012-13 and 2013-14, he missed only one game for the Rangers and produced great defensive and possession numbers.

His 56.8 and 56.2 Corsi-for percentages were fifth- and seventh-best among defensemen for his final two seasons in New York, and he posted relative Corsi percentages of 6.6 and 3.6 those years. He only had 31 more giveaways than takeaways during these two seasons and was a plus-23.

His five-year, $4.5 million AAV contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning is quite the deal, coming in at only the 57th-highest contract among defenseman in the league. The deal will cost the Lightning $2.3 million less against the cap than Seabrook, and the contract will end when Stralman is 32.

Stralman may have given Tampa a bit of a deal on the overall money as he was also given a no-trade clause, but the Lightning did not have to give him both top dollar and the clause to get him to sign.

These may be just two cases, but Niskanen and Stralman are comparable ages and skillsets to Seabrook, and their deals came the summer before Bowman gave Seabrook an eight-year, $6.875 AAV deal. Bowman could look at deals for guys like Niskanen and Stralman and see what the going market was for defensemen of Seabrook’s age and caliber.

There is a factor that Seabrook was a team leader and a three-time Stanley Cup champion, but is the price tag for those achievements really multiple contract years and millions of dollars more per year? I just don’t see it.

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