Many are looking at the Matthews, Marner and Nylander contracts the wrong way

Published July 17, 2023 at 2:14 PM

It is my firm belief that the hard salary cap the NHL has employed since the 2004-05 lockout is ruining the experience of being a fan. At one time, we simply cheered for the good players on our favourite teams. Nobody knew or cared how much money they made, so long as they played well. Today's NHL fan needs a minor in accounting and a crash course on the NHL's collective bargaining agreement to have a hope of understanding why teams make the moves they do, allowing important players to walk and signing weaker replacements with similar skill sets simply because they come in a little bit cheaper.

Even worse, in order to support their team, at times, fans have to cheer against their favourite players in contract negotiations. Of course, many in the media take advantage of this. They sensationalize the salaries of players and blame them for their team's failures. The Leafs are by far the most common victims of this. Here's the problem; in a salary cap league with a changing cap, you can't compare contracts by dollar amount without taking into account what the salary cap was when the deal was signed.

One example is the constant Toronto media narrative that no team has ever won the cup with a player making over $10 million dollars. While this was true until Jack Eichel won with the Golden Knights, it's a flawed narrative to begin with. When Sidney Crosby won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, his salary was $8.7 Million. That season, the NHL's salary cap was $56.7 million. Crosby's $8.7 million accounted for 15.34% of the cap. That's equivalent to $12.658M against an $82.5 million dollar cap. The cap goes up, salaries go up - it's simple, really. It's not about the dollars, it's about how big a piece of the pie a player is taking.

For us Leaf fans, this means that when Matthews, Marner and Nylander receive raises on their next contracts, they will likely be taking up a smaller piece of the total pie even if they're making more money. We are about to see a huge jump in players' salaries as the cap rises. Just remember when you hear these higher AAV's come down, it's not about the dollars, it's the cap percentage that matters.

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