It was early last week that Tyler Seguin repeatedly said how “disappointed” he was with his negotiations — or lack thereof — with the Dallas Stars. He said the word, or some variation of, nearly once per minute when describing his contract situation as he prepares to enter the final season of his six-year, $34.5-million pact.
Seguin’s dismay over his situation in Dallas was cause for concern, too. Here was one of the league’s highest-scoring players, one of its best pivots, clearly unhappy with his circumstances and openly expressing his displeasure. And with John Tavares’ departure from the New York Islanders still fresh in the minds of onlookers, Seguin’s comments raised some eyebrows and lent itself to some speculation that he could be the next legitimate star player to test the open market.
But my, how quickly things can change.
On Thursday, meeting with media as part of the NHL’s Player Media Tour, Seguin said that not only has his camp started to speak with the Stars about a contract extension, he’s hoping to be able to put pen to paper on a new pact in short order. For those wondering, that would be one week from Friday, which means the once-disappointed Seguin sure seems to think things are moving in the right direction in a hurry.
“I envision hopefully having something done,” Seguin said, according to NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger. “They've been talking now. My agent has been talking to the team. Hopefully something will get done before camp.”
That Seguin and the Stars want to hammer out an extension comes as no surprise. Seguin noted repeatedly that Dallas has become his home, that the organization has given him ample opportunity to realize his potential. And the Stars, well, it’d be mighty difficult to pass on the opportunity to bring back a player of Seguin’s caliber, especially given he’s in the prime of his career and the catalyst behind a lethal offense. The only real difficulty when it comes to extending Seguin is the specifics, as in term and money.
The former is rather easy to answer: Seguin is going to be looking for a max-term deal, and he’s going to get it. There aren’t even really any great risks involved. An eight-year pact would carry Seguin through to the end of his age-35 campaign. (He’ll be 26 when this season begins and 27 when a new contract takes hold.) That would cover the remaining years of his prime and his early 30s, and with a player such as Seguin, whose injury history is limited and whose offense has remained consistent, there would seem to be less risk of a precipitous drop-off by that time. Dallas will have to go maximum term, too, if they want to retain Seguin, because if they don’t, another franchise would absolutely be willing if he made it to the open market.
The more difficult parameter to hammer down, though, is the money.
The template for a Seguin extension, specifically after Tavares’ aforementioned foray into free agency, appears to be clear. Signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tavares landed a monster seven-year contract that carries an $11-million cap hit, and it could be well argued that Seguin, who’s nearly a year-and-a-half younger, is the superior offensive player. Over the past three seasons, Seguin and Tavares are separated by a single game played, with Seguin’s 99 goals and 223 points slightly ahead of Tavares’ 98 goals and 220 points. Seguin has also been more effective on the power play — 32 goals and 78 points to Tavares’ 26 goals and 67 points — and he’s put nearly 150 more shots on net.
Granted, there are some variables at play. Seguin has had Jamie Benn as a linemate throughout his tenure in Dallas, and Tavares — with apologies to the likes of Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo — hasn’t had a player of that ilk to play alongside during his entire NHL career. But on the whole, Seguin’s Stars and Tavares’ Islanders weren’t all that different offensively over the past three seasons. Matter of fact, New York’s 727 goals outpace the 718 scored by Dallas across that span. So, the difference between Seguin’s situation heading into his final year and Tavares as he approaches his final campaign is maybe more negligible than most would choose to believe.
That doesn’t necessarily make Seguin’s contract situation as cut and dried as matching Tavares’ pact dollar for dollar. There are other factors in play, including managing cap space with several other players set to become free agents of some variety next summer. The likes of Jason Spezza, Mattias Janmark, Marc Methot, Esa Lindell and Julius Honka will all be eligible for new pacts next season. Likewise, Dallas may want to keep some money free next summer if there’s someone they have their eyes on in free agency, such as, say, Erik Karlsson.
But in much the same way the Tampa Bay Lightning have been able to ink the likes of Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov at friendlier prices due to state tax rates, the Stars may be in the perfect position to keep Seguin in town at a lower-than-expected cap hit that would allow them more financial flexibility. While it’s admittedly not a perfect science given the way players are paid, a deal worth $8.125-million annually in Dallas would see Seguin earn roughly the same amount as Tavares does per season in Toronto, according to CapFriendly’s post-tax calculator. The Stars can use that to their advantage.
No matter the money, though, the headline here is all that matters for the Stars, their faithful and their future. That the two sides are at the table with eyes on getting a deal done is the best possible news for Dallas in the wake of Seguin’s late-August comments, and if he signs on long-term before camp, before the campaign or even mid-season, the Stars can put to rest any notion that their No. 1 center will leave them in the lurch come July.