BOV: Patrick Marleau

In my line of work, we do these things called BOV's. For those of you who aren't "in the know", that stands for Broker's Opinion of Value. Now, I'm not about to say that I'm Patrick Marleau's "broker". I have very little knowledge of the in's and out's of his daily life besides what I can deduce by digging through his trash can (That bin is riddled wirh empty containers of Nutella and moustache wax. No idea what's going on there). But I can give a Bloggers Opinion of Value, and that's something I'm going to do... now.

Now, when you're preforming a BOV, it's best to pull recent "comps" (or, market comparables). This gives you a bench mark of your asset's value. If we were to apply this same approach to contracts and players in the hockey world, the most recent comparable would be Marc Savard, who just signed a seven year contract extension with the Boston Bruins. The 2009 stats for both players are listed below.

2009 - Patrick Marleau 31 19 14 33 8 4 4 2 3 0 97 19.6

2009 - Marc Savard 14 8 6 14 1 8 4 0 1 0 36 22.2

By every metric listed, Marleau has had a far superior 2009. However, Savard's year has been hampered by an injury sustained early in the season. So, when performing this "BOV", let's look at the players' career statistics as a whole, shall we?

Marleau (age 30), has been with the San Jose Sharks his entire career. Over the course of that career, he's averaged 79 GP, 25 G, 30 A, and 55 P. In the last three years, those numbers jump to 30 G, 36 A, and 66P in two fewer games played on average. He's scored more than 30 goals twice in his career, but has only topped the 80 point plateau once.

Savard (32), bounced around the NHL before finding his seemingly permanent home in Boston. Over the course of that 11 season NHL career, he's posted an average of 18 G, 42 A, and 60 P in 67 GP. The difference between that number and his three year average is more significant than Patrick's, as he's averaged 21 G, 66 A, and 87 P in those seasons (79 GP). Savard also has three seasons on his resume where he topped 80 points (two of those seasons over 90 P).

Although the numbers don't match up exactly, we shouldn't expect them to or wish that they would. When performing a BOV, it's expected that the comp will differ slightly from the target. In my expert (roll of eyes is expected here) opinion, Marleau and Savard have enough in common to make them apt comparables for each other.

Both are "Class A" NHL players. Both are centers (although Marleau has recently found his position switch to off wing). Both score within reasonable amounts of each other, albeit Savard is more of a playmaker while Marleau has become a sniper as his career has progressed (especially after being moved to Joe Thornton's wing). They are both over 30, and are likely (Savard is no longer) looking for their last big pay day.

Let's get down to brass tacks (I thought the expression was "Brass Tax", but my girlfriend quickly informed me that I am, indeed, an idiot). Savard recently signed a seven year deal to stay in Boston, coming at a very reasonable cap hit of $4.2 MM per season. It's a heavily front-loaded deal, with $14 MM being earned in the first two years and the other $14 distributed over the next 5. With other centers around the league making much more (including Marleau, who's cap hit sits at a hefty $6.3 MM), how did the Bruins get Savard so cheap?

It might have something to do with the current economic situation (I, myself, haven't gotten my usual annual salary increase for two years now... boo hoo), or it might be the fact that Savard really wanted to stay with Boston. Even still, $4.2 MM annually is a bargain for a player who has eclipsed the elusive 90 point marker twice.

Savard must know the current dilemma that the Bruins are in... he lost former linemate Phil Kessel over the offseason because Boston simply couldn't afford to keep the budding star. However, you have to believe that Savard still wanted to "get his", and thus the contract must have worked for both sides. No one is that nice.

In relating the situation to Patrick Marleau, one would think that #12 still wants to be in San Jose, even with the loss of the captaincy in the offseason and the swirling trade rumors he has been subjected to for much of his tenure. He still seems like he loves the team, the city, and the fans. His family his here, his life is here. He's grown up with the city, bleeding teal since he was a wee lad of 18. This is his home, and I would assume he wants to stay.

Problem is, San Jose is also in dire straights when it comes to the salary cap. They're losing players and cutting payroll as a result next year, but most likely cannot resign Marleau for anywhere close to the $6.3 MM average salary he's currently making if they have any intention of resigning both Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski (who will be RFA's this coming summer). Marleau will likely have to take a pay cut, but who's to say that cut can't be part of a backloaded contract akin to Savard's?

If we compare the two players, and use Savard's deal as a bench mark for Marleau, it seems unlikely that Patrick should be making any thing exceeding $4.2 MM per year. In fact, based upon Savard's recent numbers, Marleau should probably sign for less than that. However, considering that Marleau is three years younger, is better defensively, and is such a big part of this team even as he has been stripped of his letter... it could be argued that he should probably be paid about the same as Savard.

Long, frontloaded contacts are all the rage in the current NHL, and I'm a proponent for one in this case. On a seven year deal, Marleau should be making around $4 MM a year. If any longer than that, the average salary should decrease.

I love Marleau, and I hope he loves it in San Jose as much as I think he does. If Doug Wilson is smart (as I assume he is), he should be considering a contract extension for Marleau as I finish typing this story. Although I want Marleau to have as much success as possible, 50 goal scorers (he's on pace for 50 G, 37 A, and 87 P) don't come cheap.

Go Sharks.

What should Marleau's cap hit be on a seven year contract?

More than Savard's (>$4.2MM)135
Equal to Savard's ($4.2MM)138
Less than Savard's (<$4.2MM)29