Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I Don't Like The Carkner Signing...Today

It is a great story about perseverance, a local boy turned hero, the kid that worked through adversity and paid his dues. Matt Carkner, after 7 games with his hometown Senators, has been given a two-year extension at a modest $700K per year, and on a one-way deal.

Carks has showed his worth to this team in his short time here. He has great work ethic, he's a smart hockey player, and he's got that grit that we love. As Murray put it today, Carks will be a great influence on the new players on 'how to show up at camp, earn a spot, and keep it'. I really like the guy and think he's been one of our most consistent players. If it weren't for the incredible rebound years of A-Train and Big Rig, you could make an argument for Carkner being one of our best defenceman.

What stinks about this signing, though, is the timing of it. What does this accomplish? Why are we handing out one-way contracts to a guy with two weeks of service? In my opinion, there is nothing to lose in hanging out until the second half of the season to see how he does over the long haul? Hell, why not wait until June after the season, before he hits 'free agency'? I like the signing, but I definitely don't like it being done today. There was no need to do this now, long before we saw how he AND the rest of the defenceman perform over the season.

But his value can only go up during the season, Murray got him for a good deal
How much could his salary possibly have risen this season? He is a 28-year old rookie that has toiled in the minors. He isn't going to hit 20 points. His role is a stay at home defenceman in the second pairing at best. What is he possibly going to accomplish this year that will put his salary over a million dollars after one year in the league? I love the way he's playing, but let's not pretend that he's going to turn into a top pairing player and command in the millions. He'll continue in this role all year, getting PK minutes in the second or third pairing and we could sign him for the exact amount in June as we did today. I don't think we saved a paramount dollar figure by getting this done today.

But it is a small salary and a short term - it is movable, if necessary
Sure, it isn't a major hit on the cap, but it is money out of Eugene's pocket. If Carks needs to go to Bingo for any reason and he gets through waivers, we're paying him a fair amount of money to ride buses. Can you really tell me that Carkner wouldn't have accepted a two-way deal? I know that is kind of a slap in the face to a guy that just made it, but to get $700K in the bigs but keep the door open for a stint in Bingo shouldn't have been off the table. We already had to deal with Schubert for too long and finally moved him for nothing on waivers. While Carkner is a far better defenceman than Schubert, we could easily find ourselves in that same position.

But it creates healthy competition for Picard/Campoli/Karlsson/Lee to work harder
Why? Carkner doesn't play the same style as any of those guys. We know Phillips is a Senator for life and we know that Volchenkov is far too valuable to let go - they're both here for years to come. Carkner is now taking up a spot, as are Kuba, Campoli, and Picard. That makes a cool six, boys and girls. No Brian Lee, no Jared Cowen, and no Patrick Wiercioch. Oh yeah, and isn't there some Swedish kid that Murray says is going to continue getting playing time? I don't see how giving him the deal now, thus guaranteeing that Lee isn't in the regular lineup all year, creates healthy competition. Our options now become to either sit Picard, who has been playing solid hockey, or to sit Campoli, the guy that we gave up a first round pick to acquire and probably our second best offensive defenceman.

Listen, folks, I really like Matt Carkner. I'm glad he's got a contract and I'm thrilled with the way he is playing. I just think the contract is far too premature and was pointless to get done in October. He wasn't going to drive his price up over the season and it takes away a lot of flexibility on that blue line from both a coaching perspective and a management perspective. Glad he's here but am not thrilled at giving him a one-way contract so soon. It just doesn't make sense to me.


Anonymous said...

Do not know if this is the case (can someone check)
but the extension doesnt kick in til after the season right? and thus the two-way? I dont know, maybe I am completely wrong.

Senators Lost Cojones said...

Sorry Duff. Love this one.

I'll agree that it is pretty risky so early in the year, but let's posit that he keeps on keepin' on. Don't underestimate the stupidity of another GM (Hello, Mister Burke, may I take your coat?) to vastly overpay to steal him away come June.

As for the suddenly crowded blue line, I have to assume that Master Lee has played his last game in Ottawa. He's still a solid prospect so maybe The Bryan can get something in a trade (see note above), but considering Lee's progression thus far Murray can't help but look at him and think "Mark Staal".

And personally? The thought of A-Train, Big Rig, Carks and Cowen on the same D excites me in unspeakable ways.

Anonymous said...

Check around the league and compare him to other d-men that make 700,000 or less. He brings more to the table than 85% of those guys. The cap floor goes up to 525,000 in Carkner's 2nd year of the new deal so you're paying an "extra" 187,500 in each year. Not a bad gamble on a guy that has proven he can at least play in your bottom pairing and also kick the crap out of most players in the conference. This also sends the right message to other players on the team. Good for Carkner and good for the team. Great signing

duff said...

Anon at 9:40, it isn't that I don't like the signing, I just don't like that it was done so early in the year before the crowd on the blue line shakes out. He is worth 700K, but I just don't understand why it had to be done so early. Lee will not have a chance to prove himself and Campoli is on borrowed time, it seems.

We could have had him for 700K in June. Why today? For a feel good story?

duff said...

Anon at 9:29, that is a fair point that we should check out - does the one-way aspect of the deal kick in now? We know that Carkner makes $500K this year so the 700K is an extension starting next season. It is a great question whether or not the one-way aspect kicks in now or next July 1st. Can Garrioch find that out for us?

Anonymous said...

No. You can't change current contracts. That went out in 2005. He's on his 500,000 two way for the rest of this season.

nate- said...

Maybe Brian just wants to show Carkner that he has some stability. The guy toiled in the minors for so many years, I'm sure he wanted a one-way contract as fast as possible. It could help his game if he feels like he is a part of this team's future.
In sports, you never want to say something is a sure thing, but the idea that this guy isn't going to change the way he plays is about as close to one as you're going to get. IMO the positives(good PR, giving him confidence, good vibe for the team and all that jazz) far outweigh the unlikely negatives. And like SLC said, there are alot of dumb GMs around.

Sacul said...

Duff, I think you're off base on this one. Murray is a wiley GM...he knows when the timing is right.
His salary could absolutely rise throughout the season. If Carks continues the solid play, especially against better teams, he'll be worth a lot more than 700K. What are the comparables around the league for stay-at-home, bottom pairing, penalty-killing D-Men...and a heavy-weight fighter, already a veteran in his rookie year, solid character family man guy...and a local product?
This one fell into Murray's lap. He's a smart cookie, and realizes this guy is just one of many that didn't originally get the shot they deserved.
I think the need to do this now was very real as every dollar is precious in the cap era.
Carkner has an agent. He may be from the country but he's no bumpkin. If he was still unsigned in June after a solid year in the NHL, you can be damn sure he wasn't taking a 2-way contract from anyone. Every team that had a player who ate his knucle sandwiches (the list will grow) would have been waiting with a one-way deal.
The healthy competition part comes in with the removal of a roster spot. It's the same way that getting 2 forwards in the Whinypants deal put pressure on the 4th liners. Different roles, same roster.
As for Lee, his chance will come only through injury our consistent poor play by Karlsson, Campoli or Picard....or maybe a deal that doesn't tie up a roster spot right away. Reality (and a 2-way contract) bites for Lee, but Carkner had to wait 8 years for his chance...Brian will be luckier.

Master Of Puppets said...

It could also be an insurance policy in case talks with A-Train's agent go into the shitter.
Not saying Carkner is his equal in the shot blocking, hitting and defensive awareness department, but if those talks get into stupid numbers and Murray either has to trade A-train or lose him to FA, then Carkner is still here and not asking for stupid money as well.

Smart move.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, just maybe, Murray is a good man, and decided to give a contract NOW Carkner he has a family and children. Now Carkner can buy a house and live like all of his other teammates who are over 20. Just because he is a rookie does not mean he should be treated with kid-gloves, the guy is 28!! Maybe you think he should have been Alfredson's roomate to? It is a good move on Murray's part to treat Carkner with respect. People who question this contract just do not have anything constructive to say, but they want to get words down on paper. Christoph Schubert makes more, nuff said.

duff said...

Anon @ 12:01:

Contrary to your belief that I'm just trying to 'get my words on paper', I backed up my opinion by saying that it is too soon to be handing out the extension and the fact that it is a one-way deal takes away a lot of flexibility. I can't imagine Carkner, judging by his surprise at getting a one-way deal, was threatening Murray and refusing to sign a two-way deal.

And with regard to his family and buying a house, the dude was pulling home $500K this year and can probably buy the nicest house in Winchester.

Respect from Murray to his players is great but it isn't an excuse to make irrational business decisions in the salary cap era.

Peter said...

I like your post, and agree with you on a lot of things. I'm going to post on this subject for tomorrow, but two points I'll make now:

1. It's only two weeks into this season, but the guy's been in the organization for over two years. Clouston knows him from Binghamton, and he knows Clouston's system. It's not that early, really.

2. Although the defence is crowded, Carkner can also play the wing. With the contracts of both Shean Donovan and Jesse Winchester up at the end of the year, there's going to be some fourth-line spots open, if someone like Brian Lee or Jared Cowen is able to step up and take Carkner's spot.

duff said...

Thanks, Peter. I do think the readers are not catching my two main issues:
1. There was no need to do this in October. He isn't going to play himself into the million dollar range and we don't know how ALL the blueliners will do over the course of an entire NHL season, something he has never done (nor has Picard or Karlsson).

2. Why the one-way deal? I can't imagine he'd reject a two-way offer that leaves us with flexibility. I didn't like giving Ryan Shannon a one-way deal and I don't like this. Why not leave yourself the flexibility? You can still have them on the team and you can still have competition for spots.

I love the guy's style but I think it is a bad business decision, given my two points above.

Paradocs said...

Maybe by having Carkner signed, it gives Murray some leverage in the Volchenkov negotiations...

Anshu said...

I think this is a great signing and completely disagree that it was premature.

Effective business management includes signaling the right things to members of the organization. Carkner exemplified everything this organization wants - hard work, dedication, no complaints, solid play, consistency, loyalty, etc., etc.

By offering him the extension now, you prove those attributes will be rewarded by this organization, and that sends a message to every player, everywhere (NHL, AHL, KHL, etc.).