Photo: David E. Klutho
On Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks announced to the world that they
are completely bonkers re-signed defenseman Brent Seabrook to an 8-year, $55 million deal that carries an annual cap hit of $6.875 million. The deal kicks in for the 2016-17 season and will expire after the 2023-24 season, at which time Seabrook will be 39-friggin-years-old.
This is a classic example of a team paying for past performance and not for the performance they will get from the player in the future. Seabrook is at an age where decline starts to set in for NHL defensemen. Here’a a graphic from Money Puck of Canucks Army that shows this.
GAR stands for Goals Above Regulation or, in other words, the positive or negative amount of goals a player contributes to their team relative to a replacement level player.
Perhaps locking up a 30-year-old player to an 8-year deal at a cap hit of almost $7 million isn’t the brightest idea, seeing as Seabrook’s on-ice contributions are set to decline heavily over the course of the contract.
A closer look at Seabrook over the past 3 seasons shows that his contributions currently, before the drastic decline even begins, likely aren’t worth the near $7-million cap hit he’s about to become.
The first chart looks at Seabrook’s relative shot attempt and scoring chance percentage. In other words, how the Blackhawks fare in each category with Seabrook on the ice relative to when he’s on the bench. The data in all charts below is from War on Ice and adjusted for score effects.
In two of the last three seasons, the Blackhawks have done worse when Seabrook is on the ice in terms of the share of overall shot attempts and scoring chances.
But, Seabrook is a defenseman, so in fairness to him, a look at the Blackhawks’ ability to suppress shots when he’s on the ice should get a look. In the chart below, the black line is the shot attempts per sixty minutes of 5v5 play that the team allows when Seabrook is on the ice. The red line is the Blackhawks as a team, both with and without Seabrook.
Again, the Blackhawks did better when Seabrook was on the bench. The team gave up shot attempts at a lower rate without him on the ice over each of the past three seasons.
And lastly, here’s a look at Seabrook’s offensive production over the past three season.
Seabrook’s 0.64 points per 60 in 2014-15 ranked 125th out of the 204 defensemen who skated 500-plus 5v5 minutes in 2014-15.
The Blackhawks have overpaid for Seabrook, in the form of a long-term contract, at a time when his production is set to start declining, and soon, declining drastically. This is an especially interesting time to make such a deal, considering the Blackhawks just finished clearing out some very good players this summer in the name of cap space. This contract is certain to give them cap space headaches in the years ahead.
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