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Sergei Bobrovsky And Jack Eichel Are Proving Exactly Why You Pay Guys $10 Million In The NHL

Jeff Bottari. Getty Images.

There's been a lot of discussion over the past few weeks about how to build a hockey team. After the Oilers, Rangers, Leafs, and Kings were all eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, the stat came out that no player making at least $10.5M would be playing in the conference finals this year. 

Now it's easy to see teams like Edmonton and Toronto constantly fail in the playoffs and blame it on the fact that they just don't have enough money to build a roster around guys like McDavid making $12.5M and Matthews making $11.6M. Both teams have generational superstar talent, and neither team has been particularly close in the postseason (Edmonton getting swept in the WCF doesn't count). You want to find a common denominator, and the easiest thing to point out is how much money these guys make. 

But then you look at the Florida Panthers. They have Bobrovsky making $10M, they have Barkov making $10M, they have Tkachuk making $9.5M, and they have Ekblad checking in at $7.5M. You look at the Vegas Golden Knights. They have Eichel at $10M, they have Mark Stone at $9.5M, they have Alex Pietrangelo at $8.8M. If these two teams can both be just a couple wins away from the Stanley Cup Final with only a handful of guys making the majority of the money, then maybe big tickets aren't the common denominator holding teams like Edmonton and Toronto back. 

Maybe, and just stay with me for a minute here, maybe guys like Peter Chiarelli and Ken Holland just aren't great general managers. Maybe a guy like Kyle Dubas just wasn't a great general manager. Because the way it's looking right now, Bill Zito and Kelly McCrimmon are running laps around them. 

I know that Dale Tallon was the one who signed Sergei Bobrovsky to the 7-year, $70M contract in 2019, but Bill Zito has found a way to put a complete team around him. You have stars like Barkov and Tkachuk making big money, but then you buy low on glue guys like Bennett and Verhaeghe and Cousins. I know that Kelly McCrimmon didn't sign Jack Eichel to the contract he's on now, but he went out and made the trade for him knowing Vegas could use a superstar to push them over the edge after they lost to one in the 2018 Cup Final. 

Look at them now. 

Vegas is 2 wins away from getting back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2018. Florida is just 1 win away from getting back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996. One of the biggest reasons for both teams is because they have superstar talents making superstar money, AND great general managers who were able to still build a complete roster around them. 

So before we get any further into these Stanley Cup Playoffs, let's just put an end to blaming players making a shit ton of money for why their teams can't contend for a Stanley Cup. The dollar value isn't the problem. It's just an obstacle. Obviously you need guys like Bobrovsky and Eichel to play up to that dollar value. But that's why you give them the contracts in the first place, because you're expecting them to be worth it at some point.