BOSTON – Think about this for a minute. This season, the New York Islanders paid Rick DiPietro $1.5 million to not play goal for them. That’s more than three times what the St. Louis Blues paid Jordan Binnington to win them a Stanley Cup.
Kind of mind-boggling, isn’t it? Binnington’s base salary on a one-year deal was $650,000 this season. After getting called up Dec. 10, Binnington spent 98 of this season’s 186 days on an NHL roster, which means the Blues actually only paid him about $342,000, plus about half of his $100,000 salary he made playing in the minors.
So now the question is, with a Stanley Cup on his resume, how much will Jordan Binnington be worth next season? One thing we know is that one way or another, he will be paid what he’s worth. That’s because he’s a restricted free agent who has arbitration rights, which means he’ll either accept a deal he likes or have one imposed upon him by an arbitrator (assuming, of course, the Blues take him to arbitration if he doesn’t elect to go himself).
It’s actually fairly straightforward because the comparables are there. If Binnington wants a long-term deal, the most likely gauge would be the contracts that kicked in this season for John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. Gibson signed an eight-year deal worth $51.2 million for an average salary of $6.4 million a year, while Hellebuyck inked a six-year deal worth $37 million, which comes out to a yearly salary of $6.17 million. All three of them are the same age – Binnington is three days older than Gibson and about two months younger than Hellebuyck.
Even though both Gibson and Hellebuyck have larger bodies of regular-season work on their career resumes, Binnington now has 26 playoff games under his belt, the same number as Gibson and three more than Hellebuyck. And of course Binnington has done something neither of those players has: win a Stanley Cup and be a pivotal player in doing so.
The Blues are actually lucky in a way because if Binnington had come up later and hadn’t appeared in 26 games this season, he would have been classified as a Group VI free agent, which would have made him unrestricted. He ended up playing 32 in the regular season, which means the Blues still largely have control over his future. How much Binnington gets on his contract will likely have a lot to do with the term he accepts. If he takes eight years, does he surpass the $6.4 million Gibson is making on his deal? Most likely.
Nobody would flinch at the thought of the Blues paying top dollar for Binnington on an eight-year deal that would take him past his 34th birthday. If he does sign a long-term deal, there’s a good chance Binnington would have the fifth-highest cap hit in the league behind Carey Price ($10.5 million), Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million), Tuukka Rask and Marc-Andre Fleury ($7 million each). Of those four, only one of them has won a Stanley Cup as a starter, but with the exception of Fleury, they also all have at least one Vezina Trophy.
The Blues spent the better part of five years trying to figure out exactly what they had in Binnington. At times, they didn’t think it was much. It should be noted that after Binnington completed his three-year entry-level contract, he signed a series of three one-year deals, all of them at or near the league minimum. Contrast that with Jake Allen, who came out of his entry-level contract and was offered a four-year deal at $4.4 million a year, a cap hit that is almost seven times what the Blues earmarked for Binnington. You don’t do that when you’re desperate to keep a guy.
But of course, things are much clearer now and after years of being shuttled around and not given any contract security, Binnington is somewhat in the driver’s seat in all of this. Either he’s going to sign a great deal or have one that is fair to both sides imposed upon him in arbitration. Jordan Binnington earned the St. Louis Blues millions of dollars this season, first by getting them into the playoffs, then by helping them through four rounds and giving them 13 lucrative home dates. It’s time for the Blues to return the favor.
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