Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils secured another player from reaching unrestricted free agency in 2015. Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice reported that the Devils and Andy Greene agreed to a contract extension worth $25 million over five years. Per Gulitti, Greene will make $5 million per season and he has a no-trade clause. As Greene was set to be paid $3.25 million for this coming season - the last year on Greene's current contract, he will get a raise of $1.5 million for the following season. Not a bad increase for New Jersey's #6.
I'm mostly pleased with the contract extension. When I tried to figure out how much Greene should get with an extension earlier this month, I pointed out that Greene compares rather well with the upper echelon of defensemen in the league. He will get paid like one when his new deal begins in 2015-16. The cap hit of $5 million isn't odious at all (especially others like Dan Girardi), and it'll take up less space overall provided the salary cap continues to rise. Moreover, while the future of the blueline may be here now or really soon, none of the young defensemen are proven against tough competition. Greene not only has that experience, but has done really well against them based on his numbers at Extra Skater. By securing his services, the team can rely on Greene leading the blueline as he has been for the last three seasons as the younger players (hopefully) develop further. These are all good reasons to keep Greene and, by extension, why the contract extension is good.
Lastly, and not necessarily related to Greene, this puts another dent in the notion that "Lou doesn't do extensions." He actually clarified the process; per Gulitti's post:
"In every one of these situations after July 1 of a player going into his free agency (season), this is nothing inconsistent with what we’ve tried in the past and continue to try," Lamoriello said. "If we can come to an agreement prior to him playing out his free agency, we will do that. In Andy’s case the last time (2011), we were not able to do that, but it wasn’t something we didn’t work at. In most cases, you are (successful). In some cases, you’re not. It’s understandable. (It’s) the timing of it happening, where players are playing at that given time, where they might see or not see their future and how they’re used.
Interesting. It meshes with what I thought: the team may be willing to talk extension, but if the player doesn't want it, then nothing of the sort will happen. Clearly, Greene wanted to stick around and got what he wanted: getting paid real well to wear the red and black of New Jersey.
However, this isn't my ideal extension. Back in early July, I did say that I would be fine for a $4.5 - $5 million salary but I didn't want a really long term. Well, five years is a bit too long for my tastes. I preferred three years as Greene will be 32 and will turn 33 shortly into the first year of that extension. A five year deal will take him to age 37. As much as I like Greene now, I don't know if I'm going to like him so much six years from now. I have two main concerns with the length of this contract extension.
The first is performance. Very few of the top defensemen in the league are older than 35 for the same reason why very few of the top forwards and goalies are older than 35. Players do decline as they get older. I would be really pleased if Greene's decline isn't sharp and can still be viable by the fourth and fifth years of this deal. However, we shouldn't be surprised if he's less effective beyond 35. I don't think he'll be as heinous as, say, Bryce Salvador; but I am not expecting him to win against the toughs for 18-20 minutes at evens per night at an advanced age. This a problem that could be compounded if the young defensemen don't turn out as good as we all hope they can be.
The second is financial. Let's assume several of the young defensemen in the organization - Larsson, Merrill, Gelinas, Severson, Santini, etc. - all turn out to be good. So good that Greene doesn't have to be a top defenseman at age 36 or 37. While a rising cap will lessen the space $5 million takes up, young defensemen who do well tend to get paid pretty well. The second half of Greene's deal could very well become an albatross (e.g. in trying to move him, in trying to fit others in) when trying to retain others on the blueline. Again, if Greene doesn't decline, then the concern lessens - players who are still good are worth paying - but it's still there.
That said, those are concerns that will come up in about three seasons. I think it's a fine amount for now. Greene is the team's top defenseman right now and in the foreseeable future. He's been one of the better defensemen in the league. $5 million per year for what he has done is certainly appropriate provided he continues to be the boss he has been for the last three seasons.
While that's my quick reaction to today's news, I'd like to know yours. Are you happy with the contract extension that Greene got? Are you looking forward to five more years of #6 on the blueline? Would you have preferred a different kind of deal in money, term, or both? Are the Devils done for now? Remember: they still have to re-sign Gelinas and apparently do something with Carter - maybe that waits until September? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Greene's extension in the comments. Thank you for reading.