In his ruling on Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract a few weeks ago Richard Bloch noted the substantial “salary reductions that extend over the tails of the Agreement” in several player contracts in their mid-to-late 30′s and early 40′s, including, of course, that of Roberto Luongo’s. For reference, here is a table of Luongo’s salary over the next 12 years:
|Season||Age at Start of Season||Salary|
We can see the “diveback” that Mr. Bloch noted starting in the 9th year of Luongo’s contract.
What is worth noting too though is that Luongo will be 39 years old then, and this got me curious. How does Luongo’s yearly salary compare to other goaltenders? Specifically, how does Luongo’s salaries in the latter years of his contract compare to those of other, older goaltenders? If Luongo’s salaries during the “diveback” are reasonably near market value, is it still cap circumvention?
I looked at the actual salaries – not cap hits – of several upper-tier goaltenders who belonged in two groups: those who recently signed big contracts and those who recently played in their 40′s. I compared them to Luongo’s and drew up the following graph. (I should note here that this is only a rough analysis – I only looked at the salaries of Henrik Lundqvist, J.S. Giguere, Mikka Kiprusoff, Tomas Vokoun, Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas, Niklas Backstrom, Cristobal Huet, Martin Brodeur, Nikolai Khabibulinn, Dwayne Roloson, Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph and Sean Burke, and when calculating the average, only included their salaries starting from their first big UFA contract.)
I think most agree that Luongo in his late 30′s and early 40′s will probably be a backup, and to be fair, that’s how most Canucks fans justify the diveback in discussions about this subject. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see the results visually. With the exception of this year (2010/2011), Luongo’s salary over the next 12 years is very close to what the other goaltenders were making or are scheduled to make at the same age. Yes, the diveback is steep as Mr. Bloch noted, but then again, it also seems to be in line with the salaries of other, older goaltenders. In other words, while some may see the diveback as a way of circumventing the salary cap, I wonder if it’s possible that the Canucks have simply given Luongo his (expected) market value at that particular stage of his career? The numbers seem pretty close, no? And if that’s the case, can’t we just say that Gillis gave his goaltender the money he deserves?