In a move sure to please the Columbus Blue Jackets fan base, the team avoided arbitration with restricted free agent forward Derek Dorsett and signed him to a three-year, $4.9 million contract.
What type of player are we talking about? Statistically, here’s Dorsett’s NHL history (all with the Blue Jackets):
And who are the 2011-12 comparable forwards with a similar salary cap hit of $1.6 million? Glad you asked!
|James Van Riemsdyk||PHI||43||11||13||24||24||-1|
|Cody Hodgson||VAN/BUF||83 (really!)||19||22||41||10||+1|
I omitted Dallas’ Scott Glennie, who was paid $1.6 million (annualized) and played all of one game for the Stars with the balance of the season at their AHL affiliate.
Now this survey of the league used CapGeek to identify players making between $1.60 million and $1.69 million. Surely there are better performing players making less, and worse performing players making more. That being said, Dorsett’s ’11-12 scoring numbers put him in the mix for his pay grade. He’s not an outlier on either end of the spectrum. His penalty minutes suggest an aspect to his game that the other five can’t contemplate.
Which brings me to the intangibles. Dorsett is a strange bird when it comes to the Blue Jackets – and perhaps to the National Hockey League in general. I rarely make this claim, but one cannot entirely judge Dorsett on his on-ice statistics alone. He was one of the few Blue Jackets who showed up in the team’s only playoff series – in his rookie year of 2008-09. He has demonstrated an incredible motor night in and night out throughout his career. Over the past season-plus, he transformed his still-impressive fighting ability into an agitator role which probably will lengthen his career (an issue I raised back in 2010). He’s developed as an on-ice (and maybe locker room?) leader and has been wearing the alternate captain “A” on his sweater more and more frequently. Point being, the fans love him for the underskilled, overachieving player that he is. He never stops trying.
Was a $1.6 million cap hit too much for a 20-point player who oozes intangible positives? If you listened to the CBJ fans I informally polled on Twitter this afternoon before Dorsett’s contract figures were released, probably. The masses were more thinking in the $1-1.2 million range. I was thinking $1.5 million and was at the high end of the crowdsourced range.
Like many Blue Jackets fans, I have a soft spot for character players. You can’t have a team filled entirely with “Rudys”, but one or two probably is wise to keep the more skilled players honest. If you have to slightly overpay a player – remember, we’re talking about a relatively small $1.6 million contract in a league where the salary cap is over $64 million per 23-person team – I’d rather see a little extra love go to the fan favorites.
Congratulations, Derek Dorsett. You had a great 2011-12 season and parlayed it into a nifty new contract. Let’s hope that it is the beginning of even better things.