The Athletic, more precisely, Dom Luszczyszyn, ranked his 10 best and worst NHL contracts. Our Rangers did not have any deal listed in the top-10 best or the honorable mention list. But, New York did have one listed in the 10-worst and there is a Blueshirts' flavor in the honorable mention list.
As you likely well know, the rankings are based on an advanced metric, but looking at the top-10 and the honorable mention list, there is a clear alignment between the metrics and our personal view. It’s looking at how much value each player brings to the table and how likely they’ll provide positive value over the life of the contract. It’s just math, no subjectivity here. The way that’s measured comes from comparing a player’s GSVA and the expected salary that comes with it to the current contract a player possesses.
Surplus value compares what they make with what my model believes they should be making, while positive value probability measures the certainty that a player will perform above his cap hit. The list of best and worst contracts is based on those two factors (with twice as much weight being placed on surplus value) looking outwards. What players have already done holds no merit, this is about the future value of the deal. Contract clauses and bonus structure are important, but not considered with this assessment. Players on LTIR were not considered.
7. Jacob Trouba, NYR
Contract: $8M x six years
Surplus Value: -$29.0M
Positive Value Probability: 6.3 percent
Like the Jeff Skinner deal, this is another one signed just over a year ago that already isn’t aging well. I thought this one could be fine if Trouba was used like a legitimate top defender and got ample power play time, but he didn’t really fit well as a power play QB. That job goes to Tony DeAngelo now and it makes it harder for Trouba to provide full value on an $8 million AAV deal where the expectation is around 1.8 wins per season. After an unsuccessful first season with the Rangers, I have him closer to one-third of that next season with a decline as he ages, only making things worse.
Trouba plays tough minutes and came out marginally ahead in Winnipeg relative to his team, but the concern was whether he would be able to continue that on his own. He had a lot of help with Josh Morrissey on the Jets and the question was whether he could be a driver in his own right. His first year with the Rangers makes it seem like that’s unlikely and while he can probably recoup value if paired with a stronger partner, that kind of caveat isn’t what you want to see from a guy getting paid so much.
Whether you agree with Luszczyszyn or not, the points he made are valid and ones we have discussed previously. If we had a crystal ball and knew that DeAngelo would perform as he did offensively and Adam Fox would end up a possible Calder Trophy candidate and potential future stalwart on the blueline, it's rather likely that the New York would not have signed Trouba to that length of a deal, especially with that AAV, Same can be said on the flat cap, as that would have similarly impacted the contract.
Trouba went through several linemates last year, Libor Hajek got a whirl as did Brady Skjei, more on him below. ADA rotated through briefly with Brendan Smith ending the year to Trouba's left. None of them, save maybe for ADA, had tremendously strong campaigns opposite Trouba, which contributed somewhat to his struggles, though a lot of that was also self-inflicted and could be partially explained by him attempting to justify the big contract he received.
Question 19 from my top-25 questions blog was: "Who will be Jacob Trouba's partner next season if it's not Smith?"
I wrote in my last blog that I would love to see New York sign Sami Vatanen and pair him with Trouba, To me, that would give Trouba a solid blueliner opposite him, playing to his strengths. But Vatanen wants a multi-year deal, which is not really an option for the Rangers based on their pipeline. A one-year contract might be an option, but Vatanen will likely ask for $3 mil+, taking him out of the team's price range.
Tony DeAngelo will get a looksee in camp on the left side, which would entail ADA moving to his offside, creating a challenge. If he proves capable, that would be Trouba's partner. If not, Hajek, who struggled last season after getting his chance, will get another look. I would not split up Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren, so neither should be an option to play with Trouba. Tarmo Reunanen should be in camp and would be a stretch for that spot opposite Trouba, but he might get a looksee, based on the potential upside. If it's Jack Johnson, well you can finish my thought.
Based on The Athletic column, here is the Honorable Mentions list: Erik Karlsson, Brady Skjei, Kevin Hayes, Logan Couture, Tyler Myers. A few familiar names. But one who was a Ranger until last trading deadline on a contract given to him by New York.