There was a general consensus of positivity around the signing of van Riemsdyk for a short time period, until the terms of the contract were revealed. After all, a free agent signing is only as good as the contract you signed them to. Luckily for the Flyers, Ron Hextall negotiated a fair deal with van Riemsdyk to bring back the scoring winger.
The five-year, $35 million contract seems like a lot at first glance. The cap hit of $7 million was around the expected value, perhaps a tad high, but signing van Riemsdyk for that extra year or two at five years instead of three or four is where most of the problem lies. It’s pretty much a fair market value for a scoring winger in free agency.
There haven’t been that many great wingers to hit the market in recent years, but let’s take a look at a handful of wingers that were signed during the offseason in the past two years. Of a list of seven comparables, five were signed on July 1st (or 3rd), and two were signed just before free agency. Those last two aren’t exact comparables given the team retaining their free agent, but they fit in this conversation as an added bonus.
The 2016 free agent class was one of the most populous in recent years, and that’s where most of our comparables come from.
On July 1st, 2016, four wingers signed long-term contracts with new teams. Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, and Andrew Ladd all signed contracts of at least six years with a cap hit of at least $5.5 million. All of them were around 29 years of age at the time of signing as well. These four contracts all carry a larger total value than van Riemsdyk’s, and it can be argued that van Riemsdyk is one of the better players out of that group.
Eriksson (63 points) and Okposo (64) were coming off of great seasons, but Lucic (55) and Ladd (46) weren’t as hot. Van Riemsdyk is right in the middle of that pack with 54 points last season. However, the three-year totals are a bit different.
Van Riemsdyk has 145 points over the past three seasons, but he missed half of a season due to injury. On an 82-game pace he has 174 points. Only Okposo (184) had more points in the three seasons prior to signing the contract.
Out of these five contracts, I would argue that van Riemsdyk’s is the best. A case can be made for Okposo, but the Flyers are paying slightly more per year in order to get out of the contract earlier, rather than spreading it out more. Either way, van Riemsdyk’s contract definitely isn’t bad when you look at past free agent signings.
Two of the other three players signed with their new team just before free agency, and one signed on July 3rd. These are a bit more recent in Evander Kane signing a month and a half ago, Alexander Radulov signing last free agent period, and T.J. Oshie signing last June.
These contracts have a higher match percentage per CapFriendly, and are more conducive for comparisons due to the current market. However, Kane and Oshie signed before free agency and Radulov was coming off of a great season after returning from Russia.
The best comparable here is definitely Evander Kane. Kane is three years younger, which allows the Sharks to sign him for those two extra years. However, it is at the same cap hit as van Riemsdyk, who has outperformed Kane throughout his career.
Radulov is a bit of anomaly given his circumstances, but he was given a similar contract without much hesitation despite his iffy track record.
Oshie, like Ladd, is a 30-year old with a lower cap hit, but getting longer term. It has paid off for the Capitals in the short-term, but it will be a lot on their books in the long-term.
Overall, the Flyers got a pretty fair deal when all is said and done with van Riemsdyk.
There is an argument to be made that it is a slight overpay, but given the market and the situation the Flyers are in, they can afford that. Hextall has cleared up cap space in order to be able to sweeten the deal a little bit with free agents that he deems fit. It also helps that the Flyers’ window is just beginning to open. They have their core, they have their growing young guns, and now they are getting that impact addition.
The main thing to remember is that the Flyers can afford this now. They dug out of cap hell and still have some cap space to work with. Van Riemsdyk’s production shouldn’t take a sharp decline either. He’s a second-line winger now, and in a few years he’ll still be a good third-line winger.
This is a signing that signifies the Flyers are ready to take that next step. Hextall’s plan is taking shape.
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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