It’s been 12 hours since the Boston Bruins officially announced the contract extension for their second-round pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, Patrice Bergeron, to a three-year, $15 million deal.
And after a few hours to ponder the pros and cons, the pros won…by a landslide.
Sure, we can look at the concussion history with Bergeron and see that its certainly prohibited him from playing in full seasons – 10, 64, 73 in the last three years – but there is an obvious progression.
Last season, Bergeron was essentially symptom-free and only missed time (nine games) due to a broken thumb and day-to-day maintenance with a bothersome groin. And in seasons past, Bergeron has shown that he can flirt with a near point-per-game average when lets those shots fly.
Including the avoidance of unrestricted free-agency at the end of this season, there are many reasons to be pumped up for Bergeron hanging around in Boston for a few more seasons. Here are my five biggest reasons why this contract is a win-win situation.
1. Locked and loaded:
All five of these “good things” basically derive from the almighty bottom dollar: the $5 million cap-hit. Obviously this doesn’t kick in until next season, so it has no bearing on this year’s cap issues. Next season, Boston has nearly $14.5 million of cap-space remaining; enough cash to spread around to those impending UFA/RFA’s who are next in line (in order of importance): Chara, Stuart, Wheeler, Recchi, Marchand, Hunwick, Sturm, and Ryder.
Not only are the Bruins loaded up the middle in Providence (Colborne, Sauve, etc.) and within their pipeline (Spooner), but they have now locked-up at least four centers through the 2011-12 NHL season – Savard, Krejci, Campbell, Seguin, and now Bergeron. If Boston were to ever revisit the possible trading of Savard – or another prospect – for a top-4 defenseman or top-6 forward, the inking of Bergeron now gives the B’s the flexibility to do so.
2. A Selke-worthy leader:
Finding a player with the overall hockey knowledge and two-way instincts like Bergeron is no easy task. Bergeron led all Bruins’ forwards in time on ice (TOI) last season – nearly 19 minutes per game – while logging the second-most TOI among forwards on the penalty-kill (SH/TOI) over the last two seasons – 2:19 and 1:56 totals in ’08-09 and ’09-10 respectively. Not only is Bergeron the best two-way player donning Black and Gold, but there aren’t many centers around the NHL that can top Bergeron’s overall production when it comes to shutting down opponents’ top lines.
There’s also no surprise in seeing a distinct correlation with Bergeron’s SH/TOI and strong ability to kill penalties, and the Bruins’ overall penalty-killing success. Boston was ranked third last season with a 86.4 percent success rate and 12th overall in ’08-09 with a 82.4 percent rate; large in part due to No. 37.
The “A” etched on his sweater is bound to lead to a “C” in due time. His leadership qualities both on and off the ice are contagious (just ask Matt Brown), and his overall work ethic to show up every night and put 100-percent in every shift – like Recchi – is a clear-cut case of leading by example.
*3. Face-off kingpin:
Perhaps one of the more underrated stats in the entire NHL: the battle of the face-offs. Winning face-offs means more time on offense and less time on defense…and winning face-offs in the offensive zone eventually leads to scoring opportunities…and so on and so forth. Bergeron has been called upon time-and-time again to take face-offs in key situations, especially over the last two seasons. He has been atop the NHL leader board for the last two seasons with a 54.8 and 58.0 percent success rate on the face-off dot, and should be up there once again this year. After all, via last year’s stats, there’s no one else to rely on to get the job done – Savard: 48.8%, Krejci: 50.7%, Campbell: 46.3%.
*4. Spring chicken:
One of the many negative things – other than the fact that it’s seven-years long – that surrounds Savard’s seven-year contract extension is the fact that No. 91 will be be 40-years-old by the time it’s expired. The good thing with Bergeron’s extension is that he’s just 25 – and having it be just three seasons long – he’ll still be a few weeks shy of his 29th birthday when this fantastic contract is up in 2013.
The Bruins’ brass didn’t wait even remotely close for Bergeron to hit the NHL’s free-agent market this coming July. By getting this contract finalized now on the eve of their 2010-11 NHL opener, the B’s also avoided the possible distractions that could have evolved throughout the season. Ching!
*5. The loot:
The all-important salary cap. For a mere $5 million, the Bruins retained one heck of a player. If I haven’t convinced you yet, then maybe this will…
*Below is a quick comparison between Bergeron and the rest of his face-off competitors in the league. There aren’t any scoring stats below, but what is listed is: The NHL ranking of total face-offs won in ’09-10 amongst centers; the age of each player; their overall winning percentage; and overall cap-hit and contract situations.
So if there are any questions regarding where Bergeron, and his new salary, ranks with other centers around the league, here it is.
- S. Crosby (23): 1,001-for-1,791 (55.9%) in 81 games played – Cap-hit of $8.7M for three more seasons.
- M. Koivu (27): 864-for-1,518 (56.9&) in 80 games – Cap-hit: $3.25M in 2010-11; followed by $6.75M for seven-years.
- A. Vermette (28): 852-for-1,573 (54.2%) in 82 games – Cap-hit: $3.75M for five-years.
- P. Stastny (24): 851-for-1,703 (50.0%) in 81 games – Cap-hit: $6.6M for four more seasons
- S. Weiss (27): 813-for-1,551 (52.4&) in 80 games – Cap-hit:$3.1M for three more seasons
- J. Toews (22): 801-for-1,397 (57.3%) in 82 games – Cap-hit: $6.3M for five-years
- T. Plekanec (27): 791-for-1,615 (49.0%) in 82 games – Cap-hit: $5M for six-years
- P. Bergeron (25): 778-for-1,342 in 73 games (58.0%) – Cap-hit: $5M for three-years