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Nikita Kucherov one of the best values of salary cap era

July 10, 2018, 11:34 AM ET [107 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The huge news in the NHL today is that Nikita Kucherov has signed an eight-year extention with the Tampa Bay Lightning and he will have an AA of 9.5M per season.

This is a huge score for the Lightning. This is twice now that the team has gotten Kucherov below market value. Kucherov's last contract was laughably bad for him when he took a bridge deal at 4.5M per season. It was so bad he sought out Dan Milstein as his new agent. I'm not so sure he did much better. Kucherov has left a ton of money on the table in his career. He could have certainly done better than 4.5M on his bridge deal.

These sweetheart deals are also on other organizations because if there was a player worthy of an offer sheet in recent memory it was definitely Kucherov. Tampa Bay was up against the cap and Kucherov was not an unknown commodity. You already knew he was a star. I don't know how somebody didn't step up to take advantage of that situation. At the very least Tampa matches the deal and it forces them to lose some talent they otherwise wouldn't have lost. Some of these teams that didn't have the courage to do that before now are going to have to deal with the potential of a Tampa Bay super team if they get Erik Karlsson.

Back to how much money Kucherov has left on the table, it's quite a bit when you compare him to some of the other stars in the league that got paid by their original team. You have to remember that the salary cap has moved quite a bit over the years and it is important to keep in mind the impact the signing had on the cap at the time the deal was struck. To do this you would use Cap Friendly and look at the percentage of the cap the player's deal was at the time of signing. This is a better way to contextualize the information for this discussion.

*Alexander Ovechkin didn't have a bridge deal

I did my best to find the players who signed their big deal with the team who also gave them their bridge contract. I'm sure there are some players missing, but this is a good snapshot.

Kucherov is way down near the bottom. PK Subban is the only player on this list to finish below him and that is because he has one of the worst bridge contracts of all-time. He won the Norris Trophy in year one of that bridge deal.

Kucherov is one of the absolute best forwards in hockey, but he hasn't been paid like it by his team. He and Steven Stamkos are on a similar cap percentage deal right now, but Stamkos' bridge deal was paying him about the same percentage as he made on his monster deal. Kucherov's did not.

The Florida tax laws will certainly ease the burden a little bit, at least for 45 games (counting Panther games)

The non-Florida games you are still paying the local rate for the city you are playing in.

In summary, Nikita Kucherov has been one of the best team values in the salary cap era. His agents left a ton of money on the table in each negotiation.

Thanks for reading!
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