The Steven Stamkos restricted free agency saga finally came to its expected conclusion on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that the 21-year-old forward signed a five-year deal that will keep him in Tampa Bay through the end of the 2015-16 season. His current cap hit of $7.5 million is tied for the seventh largest number in the NHL along with Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik, and it places him behind Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Eric Staal, Rick Nash and Vincent Lecavalier.
It's the first major contract for Stamkos coming off his entry level deal and compares favorably to contracts signed by other young forwards at similar points in their careers. Here's a quick look at how this deal stacks up with the NHL's other top young forwards that have signed their first major contracts in the salary cap era (ranked in order of cap hit)...
|Recent Young Players and Their First Big Contract|
|Player||Years||Total Dollars||Cap Hit|
|Alex Ovechkin||13||$124 million||$9.53 million|
|Sidney Crosby||5||$43.5 million||$8.7 million|
|Evgeni Malkin||5||$43.5 million||$8.7 million|
|Steven Stamkos||5||$37.5 million||$7.5 million|
|Anze Kopitar||7||$47.6 million||$6.8 million|
|Nicklas Backstrom||10||$67 million||$6.7 million|
|Paul Stastny||5||$33 million||$6.6 million|
|Patrick Kane||5||$31.5 million||$6.3 million|
|Jonathan Toews||5||$31.5 million||$6.3 million|
|Phil Kessel||5||$27 million||$5.4 million|
|Bobby Ryan||5||$25.5 million||$5.1 million|
Five years is a pretty common contract length, unless you're looking at the Washington Capitals, who have made sure their two best players are taken care of for the next decade (at which point they will still only be in their early 30s). The cap hit puts Stamkos slightly below players like Crosby and Ovechkin and slightly above players like Backstrom, Kane, Toews and Kopitar. And that seems fair based on the on-ice production. He's more productive than the second group and still somewhat behind the first.
The only real concern for Tampa Bay fans at this point -- and this is still years away from being an issue -- is this: Once the deal expires (and yes, we're already looking ahead to the next Stamkos free agency saga) he will be hitting the open market (as an unrestricted free agent -- and that's assuming the age for unrestricted free agency remains the same) at the age of 26, well into the prime of his career.
Salary figures via CapGeek