The Penguins avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract worth $4.1M per year. There’s no arguing that Dumoulin was a key part of both of the Penguins last two Cup runs. In the absence of Kris Letang, Dumoulin stepped up and provided the Penguins with quality top pairing minutes.
Brian Dumoulin: PIT offer $1.95M. Player ask is $4.35M
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 22, 2017
Dumoulin originally had asked for $4.35M entering arbitration, and the Penguins offered a measly $1.95M. After seeing that Dumoulin ended up with $4.1M, it is clear that the Penguins are the ones who caved.
I love Brian Dumoulin, and I’m certainly not complaining that the Penguins locked up one of their most important defenders up for six more years. However, it is really shocking to me that the Penguins ended up with such a high AAV for an RFA who has provided almost no tangible offense over his career.
The argument is not whether or not Brian Dumoulin is worth $4.1M. I certainly think he could prove to be well worth that as he continues to develop. His underlying numbers aren’t bad, and they show that he could actually be producing more offense than he has.
Rather, the argument is that the Penguins paid more when they didn’t have to. When you’re trying to assemble the best team possible, it is important to pay players as little as you can, until you’re forced to pony up.
Dumoulin was an RFA, so the Penguins had all the leverage. Arbitration hearings are primarily based on a players point total, regardless of their position. Does Brian Dumoulin do things besides put up points? Yes. Are those tangible things that an arbitrator would have cared about? No.
If the Penguins went through with arbitration, they probably would’ve got Dumoulin for $2.5-3M per year, albeit on a much shorter term. They chose to avoid the sometimes ugly arbitration process, and sign their guy to a long-term deal.
This isn’t a baragain, but make no mistake, this isn’t a bad deal by any stretch of the imagination. Dumoulin has proved to be a great partner for Kris Letang. Letang is able to take chances and play his game, while Dumoulin is the steady anchor, who covers for him defensively. Their relationship on the ice reminds me a lot of the one Karlsson and Methot had in Ottawa.
Dumoulin is also only 25, and he’ll be 31 when the contract ends. The Penguins just bought out all of the best years of Dumoulin’s career. That probably explains a lot of the higher AAV. He won’t have a chance to make bigger money in unrestricted free agency during his prime years.
Defensive defenseman are tricky to judge, but the Penguins bet on Brian Dumoulin today. The old saying is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Penguins seem to believe just that. They kept an important member of their defensive corps around for the long haul.
What is more interesting to me, is that the Penguins now only have $6.28M in cap space, with Conor Sheary unsigned and a third center still needed. Jim Rutherford doesn’t seem to want just any run of the mill third line center, so I wonder what this means for a guy like Olli Maatta or Carl Hagelin.
I think once Sheary is signed, we might see some dominoes start to fall. There might be more than just the third line center trade coming. Rutherford surely has a plan in place, and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.