Today it was announced that the Carolina Hurricanes had extended Jaccob Slavin by signing him to a 7-year contract for $5.3 million per year. Counting 2017-18 on his entry-level contract, Jaccob Slavin is now set to be a cornerstone of the team’s defense through 2024-25. He is now scheduled to be on the Carolina Hurricanes roster for longer than any other player, passing Jordan Staal who is signed through 2022-23.
At the most basic level, this is great news. Slavin and partner Brett Pesce both took massive steps up in terms of role and level of play for the second consecutive season in 2016-17 and grew to become a solid top pairing way ahead of schedule.
And in the process, General Manager Ron Francis has now knocked out the top three of my “5 Carolina Hurricanes predictions for the offseason” from my article way back on April 20, 2017.
Jaccob Slavin’s contract
Jaccob Slavin’s salary
My early math and propensity to always look for a bargain had Slavin’s contract coming in a bit lower. I had optimistically hoped for a bargain in the $4-4.5 million range. Part of the difference is the 7-year term (I was using 5 as a baseline). Buying out a couple unrestricted free agency years in years six and seven and accounting for salary inflation makes up part of the difference. In addition, I think salaries are just escalating right now. McDavid’s deal bumped up the overall ceiling and the volume of $7 millions and $8 millions being thrown around for players below the top tier is also pulling prices up.
Where I land on price: Despite (maybe unrealistically given market conditions and term) hoping for a bit lower, the price is fair. If you think about it over the 7-year term, I would call it “fair for a restricted free agent who proved himself in 2016-17” for 2017-18 and 2018-19. Past the first couple years, if Jaccob Slavin remains a legitimate top pairing defenseman and even better boosts his offensive production, the deal will become a greater and greater bargain over time.
For an idea of where Slavin’s salary rates compared to similar defenseman, check out my article entitled, “Case and expected terms for re-signing Jaccob Slavin early” back on May 17.
I lean conservative on contract term am of the opinion that risk increases fairly significantly after three years. I am NOT saying that players should not be signed past three years, but at the same time I think calling any athlete a sure thing looking out 5-6 years inaccurately considers the range of possibilities that far out.
That said, as far as 7-year deals go, I think Slavin’s contract easily falls into the bottom quartile for risk. He will only be 24 years old when the new contract kicks in, so only the last year-ish occurs after he hits the dangerous 30+ category. In addition, I would not underestimate the importance of Slavin’s maturity in the risk equation. His steadiness as a person decreases the variability of the possible outcomes 5-7 years out.
Where I land on term/risk: The conservative part of me leans toward capping contracts at five years, but if I was forced to go seven years with only one current Hurricanes player, Slavin would be my choice. His age is right. His level of play is right. And his physical skill set as a mobile, skating defenseman who rates highly for read/react sets a really high floor even if he does not improve from where he is right now.
The importance of Jaccob Slavin’s deal in the team’s financial structure
I think right now Jaccob Slavin is the Hurricanes best defenseman. Giving credit where it is due, the margin over partner Brett Pesce small. The “if he puts it all together” version of Justin Faulk could also challenge Slavin. And though he is not there yet, Noah Hanifin’s ceiling also has the potential to challenge Slavin.
But at this point in time and not doing projections or measuring maybes in future, I think Slavin is the team’s best. Maybe even more significantly, I think Slavin will hit a higher gear scoring-wise in 2017-18. If he does so, he could clearly establish himself as the 1D on the team. If that happens, his $5.3 million salary could set a reference point and serve as a limit for the contracts to follow. On defense, Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin are also due to receive new contracts next summer, and Haydn Fleury could step into the NHL this season and be on a similar course only a year later.
Slavin as the top defenseman and even potentially top player if he rises offensively as I expect in 2017-18 could provide powerful leverage for Francis as he works through a couple years of having to re-sign good young players and somehow try to keep costs down. On the blue line, Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin are due for new contracts next summer. Though the impact is less direct, Slavin’s deal could even provide some help as Francis also works to re-sign young forwards like Sebastian Aho, Elias Lindholm and others.
I wrote in more detail about the potential team impact of re-signing Jaccob Slavin early in my article from April 6 even before the 2016-17 season had ended. Check out “Why it is time to re-sign Jaccob Slavin and how his contract could broadly impact the Hurricanes financial future.”
Finally, if you just want to enjoy what Jaccob Slavin did in 2017-18 and immerse yourself in what the next eight years could entail, check out my ‘report card’ article for Jaccob Slavin’s 2016-17 season.
What say you Caniacs?
I will certainly get back to Jaccob Slavin and his new contract with a few more details in the next few days but would also love to hear your thoughts on the deal.
On scale of 1-10 with 1 being “just good” and 10 being phenomenal how happy are you with today’s announcement?
What are your thoughts on the annual salary and term?
Do you think that Slavin’s deal is the first domino that could see another play or two re-signed early?