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17 July 2007

Does Derek Roy = Nathan Horton? You be the Arbitrator

Derek Roy is scheduled for arbitration at the end of the month. Sabres fans, in my most humble opinion, are likely to get another real jolt. If you look at message boards such as Hockey's Future or Sabreszone or listen to Sabres flagship station WGR550 it seems that the Sabres, and the Sabres fans, want to believe a salary of about $2.0-$2.5 million will get it done. I believe this is wishful thinking.

The Sabres, themselves, set somewhat of a benchmark when they signed Maxim Afinogenov to a $3 million a year contract prior to last season. With the escalation of salaries this is the least I would expect. More likely in my opinion is a salary of nearly $4 million a year. Lets examine the Sabres rational for their offer, which I fully expect to be a 2-year contract with a lowball figure around $2.75 million a year.

Why the Sabres would say Derek Roy isn't worth $4 million a year:

1) He plays regularly with the Sabres two most dynamic players, Thomas Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov. This artificially inflates his statistics.

2) He does not regularly play the power play.

3) He is not an especially gifted defensive player as well. In short he is nothing special either way.

4) His offensive production, with the Afinogenov and Vanek factor considered, is consistent with that of Mike Peca who earned $2.5 million last year.

All in all, I think these are easily defeatable arguments for Roy. There are actually few players in the below $3.0 range as productive as Roy. These are tough arguments for the Sabres.

Now let's examine Derek Roy's likely arguments. I expect, factoring in inflation that Roy will ask for a 2 year deal with a salary in the are of $4.3 million per season.

1) He centered the teams most dynamic offensive line. He had 21 goals, 63 points and a +37 rating in relatively limited ice time. His production is far above average for a 3rd-line center.

2) With Drury and Briere gone he can reasonably expect more ice time, power play time and his statistics to rise in correlation.

3) He compares favorably with John Madden of the Devils who earned $3.982 million last season. Here are their statistics last year in comparison:

Madden 74 games 12 goals 20 assists 32 points -7
Roy 75 games 21 goals 42 assists 63 points +37

4) Careerwise he compares to Nathan Horton who recently signed a 6 year, $24 million deal. Here are their career statistics for comparison:

Horton 208 games 73 goals 58 assists 131 points +18

Roy 194 games 48 goals 80 assists 128 points +30

I believe that Roy's arguments would be extremely persuasive and that he is far more likely to reach the $ 4 million a year plateau than stay down near the $3 million mark.

This, of course, causes the Sabres another headache. I fell the Sabres could ill-afford to walk away from the award. More likely, in my opinion would be for them to cut ties with someone (Spacek and Kotalik are first to come to mind) to clear salary. I respect the Sabres business plan, but it is becoming more apparent by the day that to remain competitive the Sabres will have to readjust up from their current salary structure or fail miserably.

2 fanatics have replied:

Road Apples said...

"Careerwise he compares to Nathan Horton who recently signed a 6 year, $24 million deal. "

Helluva prescient article, Ghost. Well done:

6yrs-$24 mil for Roy today.

I had a similar discussion with a friend a few weeks ago who was thinking Roy was going to get "maybe" 2 million. While I didn't bring up Horton, I said I'd be shocked if he didn't get at least what Max ($3.33 cap hit) got.


The Ghost said...

It is too bad We didn't set the market instead of the other way around.

It will be interesting to follow this for a few years to see if the strategy to sign these two guys long term pays off.

Oddly, the Sabres mishandeling of Vanel and this deal may bear out to be real steals in about two seasons the way Salaries are escalating.

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