Aug 312010
 

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:

SeasonAge at Start of SeasonSalary
2010/201131$10,000,000
2011/201232$6,716,000
2012/201333$6,714,000
2013/201434$6,714,000
2014/201535$6,714,000
2015/201636$6,714,000
2016/201737$6,714,000
2017/201838$6,714,000
2018/201939$3,382,000
2019/202040$1,618,000
2020/202141$1,000,000
2021/202242$1,000,000

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.)

Goalies Average Salaries

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?

  • http://twitter.com/hipcheck44 Will

    You’ve nailed it, this is really the best way to look at Luongo’s contract. It’s quite ironic that with all the talk about his salary he actually makes less than the average at several points. Granted it’s not as substantial as the points at which he makes more, but aside from his inability to get his team out of the 2nd round (he needs some help to do that) he’s had some great regular seasons for the Canucks. His career numbers remain strong even though he played for some really bad teams (NYI and Florida) when he broke into the NHL. Of course a Stanley Cup would go a long way towards silencing all of his critics. Go Canucks Go!

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