After seeing the argument over who David Legwand should be compared to, rather than take his salary and see who he compares to, why don't we instead look at how he is used and how successful he is in that role, and see how much the market pays for that performance? Seems to make a lot more sense to see what his skill set is worth, rather than what his price tag demands.
With that, let's first look at Legwand's numbers:
|2010 - David Legwand||14.55||0.805||1.743||0.97||0.64||2.19||7.4||1025||42.2|
To get the comparable forwards, let's look at the 60 players closest to Legwand's opposition so we only see those who face as difficult of competition. Let's then cut that list down further to only get those players who scored within 0.25 points per 60 of Legwand so we see those players who score about the same as Legwand. Then, remove those players who started in the offensive zone more than half the time, as they aren't put in the same position - defensive - as Legwand.
At this point, we're down to only six other forwards. But we want those forwards who were as successful as Legwand at controlling the play, so finally, we'll remove those players who aren't within 5 of Legwand's CorsiRel score.
We're left with these people:
Look at that. Legwand's closest even-strength comparables make exactly as much, or more, than Legwand. He has the worst zone starts, the highest goal rate, but the lowest assist rate. This past year, Legwand was not overpaid at all. The difference comes from Legwand not producing on the power play, which Barry Trotz recognized by playing him the 7th most often.
How about his comparables in 2009-10:
Legwand clearly did not have a good year. He was overpaid relative to his production in 09-10, plain and simple. He wasn't scoring and he wasn't driving the play. Despite this, he was only on the ice for 2.34 goals against per 60. Either way, not a good year for Legwand.
And here we see, in Legwand's first year of his contract, that he was on the upper-end of the pay scale, but still in range. Surely, in the first year of a six-year deal, it is understood that the cap hit will probably be a bit high. And while the bad contract to Ryan Smyth stands out and the aging contracts to Tkachuk and Modano are included, Mikko Koivu was one year away from getting paid and Brad Boyes was earning $2.5 million on a contract that was back-loaded.
Still, in 08-09, Legwand took on tough competition with average teammates, led this group in goals per 60, had comparable points, good but not great Corsi, and poor zone starts.
Judging Legwand based upon the role he performs, the offense he provides, the situations he is put in, and the amount at which he controls the play, Legwand is fairly compensated. Those players who have been used similarly while performing at the same rate shows that, in 2 of the last 3 years, Legwand is not overpaid.
Maybe the 2009-10 season is too fresh in people's minds, and maybe the 2008-09 season was too long ago. But whether you judge Legwand's performance this year, or two of his recent three years, his cap hit is fair. It's not great, it's not bad, it's fair.