The Ottawa Senators made the big news today by signing defenseman Erik Karlsson to a 7-year contract extension averaging $6.5 million per season. Naturally, they're pretty giddy over at Silver Sens about locking up their offensive spark plug:
...revel in relief as the ink dries on a contract that will keep Karlsson in Ottawa for the better part of a decade. Personally, I was certain the deal would take long into the summer to get done, but this time I'm glad to be incorrect.
#65 / Defenseman / Ottawa Senators
May 31, 1990
|2011 - Erik Karlsson||19||59||78||16||42|
Karlsson enjoyed a breakout offensive performance in his 3rd NHL season, but as has been noted before, he's deployed as a specialist, with minimal penalty kill responsibilities and a hefty dose of offensive zone starts. He's also 4 years away from unrestricted free agency, so this contract reflects those constraints (it's not like he was going to hit a wide open market for his services).
With that in mind, does this establish a starting point for Ryan Suter & Shea Weber to build upon? Suter, of course, is the premier unrestricted free agent defenseman on the market this summer, while Weber has one more year of being restricted. Both take on the toughest of assignments (refer to those handy Player Usage Charts), and play leading roles on special teams.
They also have the benefit of a longer track record of performance.
So what do you think Suter & Weber will ultimately command for average salaries on their next deals (barring garbage years at the end to bring the average down)? $7 million? $8 million? $9 million or more?