a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Thursday, 23 August 2012

08/23/12 What Will Hall Be Worth In Five Years?

Now that Taylor Hall has officially signed a deal that will make him an Oiler for a decade (combined with his ELC), it's time to do what we do best 'round these parts: break down the details.

The buzz about the deal is overwhelmingly positive, and rightfully so. It bought three years of unrestricted free agent years and it will take Hall through his prime for a very reasonable price tag. Jonathan Willis wrote an interesting piece at the Cult of Hockey about the deal.

It's clear that the Oilers got a good deal with Hall's contract, but what I'm interested in is how good.

As of this writing, there are 47 players in the NHL with cap hits over $6 million. If Taylor Hall's new deal kicked in next season it would be tied for the 48th-highest in the league. 32 forwards will be carrying cap hits of $6 million or more into next season.

First, let's look at forwards who are within $500,000 of Hall's future cap hit (above or below).

Daniel Briere $6.5 million 
Patrick Kane $6.3 million 
Jonathan Toews $6.3 million 
Henrik Sedin $6.1 million 
Daniel Sedin $6.1 million 
Henrik Zetterberg $6.083 million 
Patrick Elias $6 million 
Mike Cammalleri $6 million 
Patrick Sharp $5.9 million 
Mike Richards $5.75 million 
Jeff Skinner $5.725 million
Martin St. Louis $5.625 million 
Shawn Horcoff $5.5 million 
John Tavares $5.5 million
Mikhail Grabovski $5.5 million

That's essentially the range of players that Hall is expected to be in based on his new deal. Several players on this list (Briere, Elias, St. Louis, Horcoff) are in or approaching their mid-thirties, and players like Hall are the replacements for the old guard.

Had Hall played a full season in 2011-12, he would have been on pace for around 36 goals and 71 points as a 20 year old. By the time he is 25 years old, Hall should be at the pinnacle of his performance. For him to reach 80 or more points in a season is not at all out of the question, considering that he wasn't far off this past year on a terrible Oilers team.

That kind of production holds with what we've seen from the list of players above, many of whom who have crested the 80 point plateau more than once. Hall should be able to keep pace with any of the names above by the time he enters his mid-twenties. But there's something else going on here, too.

If the salary cap continues to rise (as it probably will), Hall's deal gets better. The percentage of salary cap space that the deal occupies will fall each year that the cap rises, even though Hall's production is likely to increase to peak levels in that time. For many of the players on the list above, the amount of production they can expect to generate will be declining.

As the cap rises and other good players require new deals, the cost of acquiring top players will rise right along with it.

If everything goes right the Oilers should have one of the better players and bargains in the league five years from now.

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