Recently, my articles have focused on what the New York Islanders’ offseason may look like. I started by predicting Mathew Barzal’s contract, followed by predicting Ryan Pulock’s contract after that. This article will project what Devon Toews may get paid on his next deal.
In my article where I reviewed Toews’ season, my early prediction for an AAV on an four-year deal for him was around $4.5M, but I wanted to test that against some comparables.
I came up with a simple method to predict contracts for forwards, which you saw if you read my article predicting Mathew Barzal’s contract. Essentially, it’s a matter of finding a middle number between the player’s career points per 82 average at the point they signed the deal and their points per 82 average in their contract year. Then, you can take the AAV with that number and essentially find a cost per points average.
I used this method while projecting Pulock’s contract and as I said there, this isn’t the ideal way to project contracts for defensemen, as you usually can’t really tell a defensemen’s actual abilities to defend based on simple stats. It does take production into account, however, and works fairly well with defensemen who contribute offensively. Another key factor with contracts for defensemen is usage, so in order to make this as accurate as possible, I tried to find comparables who were used in similar situations (ice time/special teams).
For the comparables, I used four defensemen who played the first season of their new deal at 26 years old (the same age as Toews will be when he starts his contract). Toews averaged 20:31 per game this year and also played on the power play, so I worked with comparables that were used in similar situations in the season prior to signing their new contract.
I’ll give an example of the math on one of the comparables, then just show the totals of the other three. This is what I did for Colin Miller’s contract, who started his four-year deal in the 2018-19 season at 26 years old, with a $3.875M AAV. His stats were:
41 P/82 in contract year
31 Career P/82
36 P/82 average
To get the number I used to figure out cost per points, I took his points per 82 games in the year before he signed his new contract and his P/82 average throughout his career to find a “middle ground” number, which is 36. I’ll also need to take his $3.875M cap hit and apply it to an $81.5M cap instead, which brings Miller’s adjusted cap hit to $3.97M (rounded). Now, I can divide the AAV by the points average that I found (decimal moved on points average).
3.97 divided by 3.6= 1.10 payment rate
Now we’ll find Toews’ points average:
33.8 P/82 in contract year
32.5 Career P/82
33.2 P/82 average
I can then take the payment rate of 1.1 and multiply it by Toew’s points average (3.32, decimal moved), which brings the projection for Toews on a four-year deal to about $3.65M per year.
I also went through this process with Jake Muzzin, Dmitry Orlov and David Savard’s deals and this is what each projected for Devon Toews' AAV:
Orlov projection: $6.15M x 6 years
Muzzin projection: $5.9M x 5 years
Savard projection: $5M x 5 years
Miller projection: $3.65M x 4 years
These projections seem to be at least somewhat accurate and do a fairly good job of projecting a contract. Here are some things to consider though:
With Savard, he actually played significantly more than Toews, playing nearly 23 minutes per game, with three of those minutes coming on the penalty kill. This means the $5M projection on a five-year deal is actually probably quite a bit higher than it should be and by this, it may be more realistic at $4.5M per year.
Miller did play a minute less per game than Toews but was, in turn, able to kill penalties. That said, he was playing over two minutes less per game at even strength, so it’s likely that $3.65M projection on a four-year deal is lower than it should be.
Muzzin did play similar power play minutes to Toews but played almost a minute and a half less per game than Toews did. There was likely a “Stanley Cup tax” that came with Muzzin, however, as he signed the deal just after helping the Kings win the Cup in 2014. This probably offsets the difference in ice time a little bit to make it a somewhat fair comparison. He also had just 16 more games of NHL experience when he signed his deal than Toews does now, making for a pretty accurate comparison in terms of experience.
Orlov played very similar minutes to Toews at even strength and on the penalty kill but did play a minute less per game on the power play. That said, this can mostly be offset by the fact that Orlov had played over twice as many NHL games as Toews and had proven himself over a longer period of time.
Here are some of my closing thoughts on the projections. I don’t think I can see Toews hitting the $5.9M AAV mark on a five-year deal, like Muzzin’s projection indicates. I think there’s a good chance it’s between that number and the $4.5 to $5M range that Savard’s projection would have it at, potentially somewhere around $5.25M per year on a five-year deal.
I’d say it’s also unlikely that he hits $6M on a six-year deal like Orlov’s comparison projects but I could at least see that as the very upper end of what Toews could get on a six-year deal. With Miller’s projection for just above $3.65M, I could see Toews a bit higher than $4M per year on a four-year deal.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted on the weekend):
How long do you think Devon Toews' contract extension will be?