By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins have already begun negotiating with Brad Marchand on a long-term contract extension, but it’s unclear whether the two sides are close to agreeing to terms. It may be tougher than imagined to pull off if Marchand won’t move off his reported asking price.READ MORE: Winthrop Woman Found Dead On Camelback Mountain In Arizona
Bruins writer Shawn Hutcheon tweeted over the weekend that a source told him Marchand is seeking a seven-year extension worth $49 million. A $7 million cap hit for Marchand certainly sounds expensive. This begs the question … is Marchand worth it?
The easiest way to find an answer to that is to look at other players around the league with similar cap hits and where they were at in their careers when they signed their current deals. The closest comparisons to Marchand in terms of cap hit are the Sedin twins from Vancouver and center Paul Stastny of the St. Louis Blues, who all signed four-year, $28 million deals with their respective teams after the 2013-14 season.
Stastny signed with the Blues after scoring 60 points and also earned some votes for the Selke trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. Stastny has regularly earned the ice time of a No. 2 center in St. Louis. Henrik and Daniel Sedin, meanwhile, each averaged nearly 21 minutes of ice time per game but scored just 50 and 47 points, respectively. They were also 33 years old at the time of their signings – the Sedins, of course, were elite offensive players and perennial Hart Trophy candidates in their primes.
Marchand is still just 28 years old (as was Stastny when he signed his extension) and has never missed more than six games in a season (many of which were due to suspensions rather than injuries), so the term is not as risky as it would be for others, but after a spike in goal production in a contract year, would it be wise to lock him up for seven years expecting 2016 production?READ MORE: Laundry Detergent Spills On I-495 After Rollover Crash In Wrentham, Causes Significant Delays
Marchand scored 37 goals in 2015-16, but the obvious question is whether he is a true 37-goal scorer after averaging 26.6 goals per 82 games in the previous five seasons. Marchand does play a sound two-way game, agitates opponents as well as anyone else in the league, and has proven to be a perfect fit on Patrice Bergeron’s wing. He’s undersized but is highly durable, intense, and more skilled than he gets credit for. But is he at that upper-echelon level of wingers where he starts to earn $7 million or more?
A more reasonable and realistic projection for Marchand is in the $6-6.5 million range, where you’ll find the likes of Loui Eriksson, Jordan Eberle, Kyle Okposo, Filip Forsberg, and Joe Pavelski. To me, Marchand is more comparable to those guys’ level than that of the Sedins.
Marchand at $7 million, by the way, would be only $500,000 less than Blues sniper Vladamir Tarasenko, who just scored 40 goals as a 24-year-old and 37 the year before that. And stop it with the Jamie Benn comparisons, let’s not get silly here.
Ultimately, paying Marchand the same cap hit as Stastny or the Sedins in their mid-30s would not be an egregious overpayment, but it would certainly be an overpayment – especially considering he would be paid slightly more than Bergeron, who at $6.875 million has one of the most team-friendly cap hits in the league for what he brings. Marchand may not be worth the $7 million per year he seeks, but extending him for seven years is fairly low-risk for how relatively injury-free he has been and a cap hit between $6 million and $7 million would be a good price for a player of his caliber.
But this is the Bruins we’re talking about here, so it’s fair to expect an overpayment.MORE NEWS: 'Definitely Concerned': Travelers At Logan Airport Cautious About Catching COVID Delta Variant On Summer Trips
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.