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.