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This article was published 15/5/2015 (1991 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The late and great Don Baizley would be the perfect moderator for what appears to be stalled negotiations between the Winnipeg Jets and agent Alan Walsh on the Michael Frolik file.
Frolik, who is soon to be an unrestricted free agent, would be better served earning a figure that doesn't get a lot of attention. Too much money and the expectations will become unrealistic for a player who does the little things better than the big things.
Baizley liked to sign his players to contracts that left just a smidgen of money on the table. Better to be known as a bargain rather than a bust, was Baizley's line of thinking. The GM came out looking like a genius and the player never had to deal with headlines screaming about the team not getting its money's worth.
Frolik is perfectly right in wanting and demanding a raise. He deserves it. But he should be careful with his financial demands. The right-winger is not a pure scorer and 25 goals in a season would seen to be a maximum for him.
Frolik scored 19 goals and had 42 points last season playing long stretches on the Jets' top line with centre Bryan Little. He may have maxed out his offensive potential.
One of the strengths Frolik has to offer is his ability to play up and down the lineup. It's no stretch to imagine him playing on the Jets third line next season. Maybe he scores 15 goals playing on a line centred by Adam Lowry. He'll still be valuable and important, but if he's making north of $4 million, the external view will be he's too expensive.
Four years starting at $3.8 million then inching up and averaging out at $4 million per year seems reasonable. The player gets security and $16 million. The Jets are comfortable with both the cash and cap number and have flexibility going forward.
My guess is the Jets want a four-year deal for less money and Walsh wants five years and more money.
The Jets won't overspend on Frolik. They can't. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff may sign one contract at a time, but they must all fit into a roster structure. So signing Frolik to a five-year deal north of $20-million sets a precedent.
Cheveldayoff has been stockpiling prospects for this very situation. He can afford to walk away. He's got less expensive options. Not as effective as Frolik in the here and now, but Cheveldayoff has some money problems coming down the pipe. Captain Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien will be unrestricted free agents at the end of next season and both will be expensive. So too will be Jacob Trouba when his entry-level contract expires next summer.
Cheveldayoff can't keep everyone. Not at top dollar.
Frolik is 27 and was sixth in Jets scoring last season. He'll get his money on the open market. It doesn't appear the Jets are willing to meet his price, or a deal would have been done by now.
This is basically a repeat of last summer's negotiations between the two sides. The Jets had a number and term they were willing to go to and Walsh and Frolik wanted more. They met in the middle at $3.3 million on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. The difference now being Frolik is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Which, at this stage anyway, appears to be the direction this is heading.
Moving their AHL team from St. John's to Winnipeg wasn't about adding another revenue stream for the Jets and True North, but more about giving the hockey operations department an edge.
Break even will be the goal from a financial perspective and it won't be difficult to achieve early on. It's the long-term sustain ability that will be in question. Can Winnipeg handle 80 nights of pro hockey a year? Granted the Jets and the Moose are very different price points, but that's the question. Will this market handle all that hockey?
The Moose will likely sell between 4,000 and 5,000 season tickets this season and at that number the business will work fine. The big question will be how long can it last?
New York Rangers associate coach Scott Arniel will soon be getting some buzz for his second crack as a head coach in the NHL... Firing Ken Hitchcock because the St. Louis Blues got slow before our very eyes when the playoffs began doesn't make sense... Great tweet from Adam Proteau (@proteautype) on referees refusing to blow their whistles and call penalties late in games: "Once again, NHL officials have set their whistles to airplane mode."... Moose GM Craig Heisinger couldn't have liked telling Jason Jaffray it was time for the sides to move on. Put Jaffray on a list with Brian Chapman, Mike Keane, Nolan Baumgartner and Jimmy Roy that Heisinger would have had a hard time saying goodbye to. As we often hear about hockey, "it's a great game but a crappy (or another word) business." Jaffray was a fine player for the Moose and IceCaps and a good person... I like the Rangers in the East and the Blackhawks in the West... Mike Babcock is a great coach. Maybe the best in hockey. But it's hard to argue against Alain Vigneault and Joel Quenneville. They get a lot from their teams every year.
email@example.com Twitter: @garylawless
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