With seemingly every game that Colin Wilson and Craig Smith play, their price tag goes up a little higher. Wilson is enjoying his most productive season yet, and Smith is continuing on the path he blazed last year of being a reliable 20-goal scorer.
Each are hitting restricted free agency in the summer and, given their performance, they are due for a significant raise. But just how much has been a point of conversation for the past several months. Nashville certainly has some cash to throw around, but if Wilson and Smith are part of their long term plans, they absolutely need to pony up to keep them on payroll. While guessing exact figures is a fools errand, we can certainly try and pinpoint a modest number of what they should reasonably be expected to command in their next contract.
We're not so much interested in exactly what their going to make in the coming years, because that's a figure to be settled between David Poile and the agents. Rather, we're looking to see how much each of them realistically could make, looking at historical significance of their performance thus far and the common paycheck of the players around them. This will at least give us an idea of the cost of the players playing around the same level, to put into perspective their actual worth. This whole thing is very unscientific, so bear with us.
For how they're performing this season, let's first look at this season's data of where they are in points relative to the players around them.
This is a terrible way of determining a players' worth, but it certainly makes a case for Wilson. He's performing the in the exact same manner as other $4 million a year players are. Of course, four players does not a sample size make, and we'll see this by looking at the amount of players that Smith is tied with.
Here's where you see the problem. The production is uniform, but the salaries are all over the board. It's almost like looking at where a player is three-quarters through the season is a terrible way of gauging their worth. This also does't take into consideration past performance or really anything of that sort.
So let's narrow it down a bit by looking at career numbers. Wilson is within the realm of getting to about 200 points this year, while Smith is going to be pushing 150, (again, total career points.) This is on the higher end of the projection, leaving room for hot streaks and assuming best-cast scenario (players don't lose time to injury, stay around their scoring pace) to factor in the higher end of the paycheck. Both players are 25, so we'll keep the data to players, aged 18-25, who scored close to 200 points between 2009-2015 for Wilson, and players, aged 18-25, who scored 150 points between 2009-2015 for Smith. To keep it simple, we'll try to find players with simliar points and games played. So what have we got?
|Name||GP||G||A||P||AAV||Length in Years||Age|
This puts things into perspective a little. It certainly looks like Wilson is going to be about a $3.5 million player, given the company around him. Though he definitely has a case for bringing in close to $4 million, especially given his jump in production this year. Analytics probably aren't factored in too much (or at all) to new contracts, but we all know Wilson is a fancy stats darling, so his play isn't a fluke. Hey, he'll take anything that he can get.
Also note the term for each of these guys. Johansson is in the same boat as Wilson, as far as being an RFA at the end of this year, but the rest have a good number of years on their contracts. The longer the term the less per year the contract is likely to be. It'll be up to Wilson which path he wants to take. Has he shown enough to justify five years at $4 million? That might be a bit of a stretch.
As for Smith:
This one seems like it has a little wider of a range, but it averages out. Again, Kadri and Boedker are going to be coming of deals this summer, so a $4 million dollar pay day seems within the realm of possibilty. Smith also has something going for him that Wilson doesn't: a level of scoring consistency. He seems like a lock for 20-25 goals each season, and still has a few years to go before he hits his peak. That's worth paying for, whereas Wilson could be a mixed bag. You just don't know.
Obviously, there are a number of factors that go into what a team pays a player to stick around. Production is key, but also how important they are to their team. While Smith and Wilson aren't superstars, they definitely contribute to the offense in significant ways. And you can bet the fans want each of them to get raises to keep playing for this team. If they have good agents, all of that is going to be on the table during negotiations.
Of course, one of the biggest things is going to be how they're able to perform in the coming years. This is something we haven't touched on, and it's really anyone's guess how long the organization is looking to lock these guys up for. Like we mentioned, Smith seems a good bet to be signed for several years, given how he's played the same way under two different coaches. Wilson is a different matter. A bridge contract will most likely not go over well, (especially since he only has one more year as an RFA) but is one good year (after several mediocre ones) enough to convince management he should stay around for the long haul?
Make no mistake: these two are going to get a raise. But given their role on the team and output of players around them, both players should clock in at upwards of the $3-4 million mark over the next few years. $5 million isn't out of the question, but it would certainly be an overpayment. The exact figures (or if Poile decides to go spend-happy and offer either of them $6 million) and length will have to wait until later, but at least now you have an idea how much bank #15 and #33 are going to break.
*All salary data gathered from Spotrac. We miss you, CapGeek.