Brooks Laich’s new contract is overpayment…but not that big of a deal.

Immediately after the Washington Capitals re-signed fan-favorite Brooks Laich to a six-year contract worth $27 million, there seemed to be a huge backlash against it. There are people who feel that this is a gross overpayment and that Laich’s contract will become an albatross soon because it will expire when he is in his mid-30’s. I can understand why fans do not like the length of the contract (which is the only problem I have with it) but $4.5 mil per year is actually somewhat of a paycut compared to what Laich could have gotten had he become a unrestricted free agent in a few days. Remember how I said that this is a shallow free agent pool? The fact that Laich as the second most desirable forward available behind Brad Richards shows you that and teams in need of scoring depth (and ones who need to get to the cap floor) would be willing to throw some serious money at him. I am a fan of this extension because like I said in his player report card, Laich has a ton of value to this team and it shows up on more than just the scoresheet.

Laich’s always had a reputation as a “team guy” and I think the fact that he took a paycut to stay with Washington shows that. He should be in line to at least have an alternate captain role next season. He’s a versatile player who can play both center or winger if needed and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him spend some time centering the second line, which fills a need for next season. He’s not the ideal person for the role but I am confident that he will have a rebound season offensively for this team and at least provide a stop-gap until Marcus Johansson is ready for the role. Laich’s defensive and penalty killing abilities are well-documented and I think those go a long way with his value. So is his presence on the first powerplay unit. As for the money, that’s the way the market goes and he isn’t the only player who has gotten a contract like this after a down year:

Player A 12.53 0.029 0.950 0.64 0.64 0.53 1.81 4.5 5.96
Player B 12.97 0.018 0.715 0.64 0.76 0.70 2.11 6.8 7.09

Both of these players can play center and wing, have received time on the first powerplay and penalty kills of their respective teams, are in their late 20’s and recently received contracts with cap hits of $4.5 mil. Player A is Brooks Laich last season while Player B is David Backes of the St. Louis Blues during his 2009-10 season before he signed a 5-year contract worth $22.5 million. He scored only 17 goals and 48 points that season despite scoring 31 the year before. He responded this season by netting 31 goals and 31 assists. Is there any reason that Brooksie can’t have a rebound season like Backes did and return to being a 20+ goal scorer? I don’t see why not. Contracts are given based on potential for the most part and I believe that Laich will prove that he is worth his new contract’s value over his career.

Some other forwards who make $4.5 mil a year or around that:
Brendan Morrow, Dallas Stars: Signed deal after a season where he missed 42 games with an injury but he was a 20+ goal scorer for the most part before he signed the contract. After he signed the deal, he has been a key part of Dallas’ top-six and has scored 20 or more goals in every season with the exception of 2008-09 when he was hurt. He scored 33 last season.

David Legwand, Nashville Predators: Never quite lived up to his first round status but he has been a key player for the Predators ever since they drafted him. Cashed in on a strong 2006-07 season where he scored 27 goals and had 63 points with a contract similar to Laich’s….6-years $27 mil. Legwand isn’t a bad player but hopefully Laich’s production is better than Legwand’s over his contract’s time because we’re going to need more than 15+ goals from him.

Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins: Signed a 4-year $16 mil contract at the age of 21 and has been a 20+ goal scorer, played on the penalty kill and powerplay while centering Pittsburgh’s third line. Similar skill-set and production to Laich after I think about it.

Others who have a similar contract to Laich’s are Kristian Huselius, Ryan Malone, Scott Hartnell and Daymond Langkow and for the most part, these are two-way players who you can count on to score 20+ goals in a season while doing other things that help your team win so I do not see the big deal in giving Brooks Laich this contract, especially with how big of a character guy he is in the locker room. I do not even need to go through the advanced stats to tell you that keeping him for this price is a hell of a lot better than overpaying someone like Tim Connolly or Michal Handzus. Glad you’re sticking around, Brooksie.


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