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The Big Money - Not Getting It Done

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Carolina's highest compensated forwards not performing like peers

It's been another tough season for the Brothers Staal
It's been another tough season for the Brothers Staal
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It doesn't take hours of compiling numbers on a spreadsheet to figure out that the highest paid forwards on the Carolina Hurricanes are not having a very good season.  But how does this season compare to last and how does their production compare to the other highest paid players around the league?

First of all, let's take a look at the numbers for the club's forwards so far this campaign.  I placed these players in the order of how much they are actually getting paid this season, (with some help from NHL Numbers.com .)

2014-15 Salary Games Goals Points $ per point Point per
Played GP
to date
Staal, E $       9,250,000 67 19 44 $      210,227 0.66
Semin $       7,000,000 48 4 16 $      437,500 0.33
Staal, J $       6,000,000 36 4 18 $      333,333 0.50
Skinner $       6,000,000 67 18 30 $      200,000 0.45
Gerbe $       1,500,000 68 7 24 $         62,500 0.35
McClement $       1,000,000 71 6 19 $         52,632 0.26
Lindholm $          925,000 71 16 35 $         26,429 0.49
Dwyer $          900,000 62 4 11 $         81,818 0.18
Rask $          650,000 70 11 29 $         22,414 0.41
Malone $          600,000 55 7 13 $         46,154 0.24
Terry $          600,000 45 8 14 $         42,857 0.31
Nash $          600,000 66 8 24 $         25,000 0.36
Nestrasil $          550,000 31 6 17 $         32,353 0.55



Eric Staal's salary this season is $9.25 million, which puts him among the highest paid in the entire league.  With his 44 points, he's averaging .66 points per game, highest on the Hurricanes, but not necessarily in his pay grade of comparable compensation around the league.  (see below).  His cost to the team is $210,227 per point.

Alexander Semin has the worst dollar per point cost on the team at $437,500.  Next is Jordan Staal and then Jeff Skinner.

How did these players do last season?

2013-14 Games Goals Points $ per point Point per
(estimated pay) Played GP
Staal, E $       9,000,000 79 21 61 $      147,541 0.77
Semin $       7,000,000 65 22 42 $      166,667 0.65
Staal, J $       6,000,000 82 15 40 $      150,000 0.49
Skinner $       6,000,000 71 33 54 $      111,111 0.76
Gerbe $       1,500,000 81 16 31 $         48,387 0.38
Lindholm $          925,000 58 9 21 $         44,048 0.36
Dwyer $          900,000 75 8 22 $         40,909 0.29
Nash $          600,000 73 10 24 $         25,000 0.33

While E Staal's, Semin's, and Skinner's numbers were all a bit better last season, Jordan's points per game average did not change.  His production so far this season was consistent with what he did last year, an average of about half a point per game.

Once again, Eric does lead the scoring challenged Canes, but let's look at his production compared with the 10 highest paid forwards of the league.  (I'm using cap hit for this comparison because some players have inconsistent salary numbers).

The Captain has the 6th highest cap hit among all forwards in the league.    Does his production match his peers?

(these numbers are as of March 20th, 2015)

Player Cap Hit points Games PPG $ per
YTD played point
1 Ovechkin $         9,538,000 71 69 1.03 $      134,338
2 Malkin $         9,500,000 68 63 1.08 $      139,706
3 Crosby $         8,700,000 71 64 1.11 $      122,535
4 Perry $         8,625,000 47 56 0.84 $      183,511
5 Giroux $         8,275,000 63 70 0.90 $      131,349
6 Staal, E $         8,250,000 43 65 0.66 $      191,860
7 Getzlaf $         8,250,000 64 68 0.94 $      128,906
8 Kessel $         8,000,000 53 70 0.76 $      150,943
9 Nash $         7,800,000 62 67 0.93 $      125,806
10 Datsyuk $         7,667,000 58 57 1.02 $      132,190
average 0.93 144,114.52

Staal's points per game number is the lowest.  Even with all the belly-aching in Toronto, Phil Kessel has more points.  The overall points per game average among this pay grade is .93 while Staal  is at .66.

Is this season just an anomaly?  Let's take a look back at last season and compare the same elite group of players.

Last season
Player Cap Hit points Games PPG $ per
played point
1 Ovechkin $         9,538,000 78 79 0.99 $      122,282
2 Malkin $         9,500,000 72 60 1.20 $      131,944
3 Crosby $         8,700,000 104 80 1.30 $         83,654
4 Perry $         8,625,000 82 81 1.01 $      105,183
5 Giroux $         8,275,000 86 82 1.05 $         96,221
6 Staal, E $         8,250,000 61 79 0.77 $      135,246
7 Getzlaf $         8,250,000 87 77 1.13 $         94,828
8 Kessel $         8,000,000 80 82 0.98 $      100,000
9 Nash $         7,800,000 39 65 0.60 $      200,000
10 Datsyuk $         7,667,000 37 45 0.82 $      207,216
average 0.98 127,657.39

Rick Nash had the bad season last year, but sure is making up for it this season.  Datsyuk also was fighting injuries and had a below par season for him.  Staal had the second worst point per game average of .77.  Staal's two season average is the worst among his peers.

Staal's career average is better, .875, but his production over the last two seasons has hurt the Hurricanes.

When you look again at Carolina's listing of forwards and their salaries, you can see that there is a large difference between the fourth highest paid player, Skinner, ($6 mil) and the next highest, Gerbe, (1.5 mil).  It would seem to be more effective to spread the salary out, rather than top load it with just a few players.

For instance, Carolina's top four forwards have a total cap hit of $27.25 million.  In comparison, Montreal's top seven forwards don't make that much, but their salaries are more evenly spread and their production is substantially higher.

Montreal forwards

At least one thing is certain.  If you do have high end salary to pay to superstar players, you better get high production from them.  If not, you have problems.

Next, let's look at the three highest paid forwards for each team and compare their total salary cap hits, along with their production.  (all stats are as of 3/20/15)

Top 3 paid forwards each team
Combined Combined $ per
Salary Caps Points point
(in millions) YTD YTD
as of 3/20/15
Anaheim $       21.85 157 $       139,171.97
Arizona $       13.00 95 $       136,842.11
Boston $       17.75 115 $       154,347.83
Buffalo $       13.85 93 $       148,924.73
Calgary $       11.15 107 $       104,205.61
Carolina $       21.25 76 $       279,605.26
Chicago $       18.50 159 $       116,352.20
Colorado $       17.50 137 $       127,737.23
Columbus $       12.95 135 $         95,925.93
Dallas $       18.25 142 $       128,521.13
Detroit $       18.60 136 $       136,764.71
Edmonton $       18.00 136 $       132,352.94
Florida $       15.00 82 $       182,926.83
LA Kings $       18.00 131 $       137,404.58
Minnesota $       20.80 142 $       146,478.87
Montreal $       13.50 129 $       104,651.16
Nashville $       12.70 92 $       138,043.48
New Jersey $       16.25 87 $       186,781.61
NY Islanders $       14.70 117 $       125,641.03
NY Rangers $       18.40 161 $       114,285.71
Ottawa $       12.60 134 $         94,029.85
Philadelphia $       17.38 98 $       177,295.92
Pittsburgh $       22.45 185 $       121,351.35
San Jose $       19.42 175 $       110,971.43
St. Louis $       17.30 152 $       113,815.79
Tampa Bay $       18.30 159 $       115,094.34
Toronto $       17.50 122 $       143,442.62
Vancouver $       19.00 171 $       111,111.11
Washington $       20.70 161 $       128,571.43
Winnipeg $       14.70 163 $         90,184.05
average 131.6 $       134,761.09

Carolina is in the top three in pay, (E. Staal, Semin, J. Staal) but their production is the lowest of any of the other team's top three in the league.

This includes Travis Zajac, who has the top cap hit for Jersey forwards, but who has 22 points in 65 games and also Florida's Dave Bolland, who has just 19 points in 44 games, but who also has the highest cap hit for Panthers forwards at $5.5 million.

There are several top end players around the league who have had injury problems, but there seems to be another top end teammate there to pick up the production.  Not so in Carolina.

What is most alarming on that chart is the dollar per point average.  The Canes are paying over double what the league average is, ($279,609 per point versus $134,761).  Their dollar per point average is considerably higher than the next closest team, which is New Jersey at $186,781.

Let's add in the next highest paid forward to each team and see how that affects the numbers.  For Carolina, we are adding in Skinner.

Top 4 paid forwards each team
Anaheim $       24.85 181 $       137,292.82
Arizona $       16.10 119 $       135,294.12
Boston $       22.25 153 $       145,424.84
Buffalo $       18.05 105 $       171,904.76
Calgary $       14.25 121 $       117,768.60
Carolina $       27.25 106 $       257,075.47
Chicago $       23.70 212 $       111,792.45
Colorado $       22.90 186 $       123,118.28
Columbus $       16.25 154 $       105,519.48
Dallas $       23.50 208 $       112,980.77
Detroit $       22.60 158 $       143,037.97
Edmonton $       22.50 165 $       136,363.64
Florida $       18.60 97 $       191,752.58
LA Kings $       22.90 169 $       135,502.96
Minnesota $       26.40 189 $       139,682.54
Montreal $       17.00 171 $         99,415.20
Nashville $       15.95 104 $       153,365.38
New Jersey $       21.10 91 $       231,868.13
NY Islanders $       18.00 154 $       116,883.12
NY Rangers $       22.15 193 $       114,766.84
Ottawa $       15.85 160 $         99,062.50
Philadelphia $       21.63 168 $       128,750.00
Pittsburgh $       26.30 224 $       117,410.71
San Jose $       25.42 233 $       109,098.71
St. Louis $       21.50 202 $       106,435.64
Tampa Bay $       21.63 224 $         96,562.50
Toronto $       21.70 163 $       133,128.83
Vancouver $       23.50 199 $       118,090.45
Washington $       24.40 197 $       123,857.87
Winnipeg $       18.00 201 $         89,552.24
166.9 $       133,425.31

Once again, Carolina does not look good.  They pay more for their top four forwards than anyone else, yet their point production is near the bottom.

There are a couple of teams with lower point production, (Buffalo, Jersey, Florida), but the cap hits for those players is much lower than what the Canes are paying for their top guys.

Skinner's production does bring the dollar per point average lower, but not by much.  The Canes still rank the worst in the league in that category by a long shot.  The league average remains at about $134K and Carolina is at $259K.

Not surprisingly, the teams with the lowest production in their top four are non-playoff teams.  Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Florida, and New Jersey rank well below the league average of 166.  (Florida could still make it but they are on the outside right now).

One notable exception to this is Nashville.  They have Filip Forsberg leading the way for them and he is not in their group of top paid forwards.

Add Cam Ward into this mix and the five highest paid players on Carolina's roster, including the team's leaders, are not performing up to their pay scale.  (We will compare the league's goalies in another article).

Ron Francis has a lot to consider this offseason.  He is not getting any value from his high dollar guys and with so much money being spent on the top players, there is not much available to spend for bringing in other quality players to support them.

Injured part of the time or not, Semin is having the worst season in his career and he certainly deserves his share of the blame for this disastrous season, but Eric Staal's salary this season is 32% higher than Semin's plus he is the team captain.  Is he getting the job done?

Each of these guys is under contract to return again next year.  What will Francis do?