As the summer now stretches into August with Marcus Kruger still left un-signed, today’s news of Sean Coutourier re-upping with the Flyers should scare the absolute hell out of Stan Bowman and Hawk fans.
As has now been widely reported, Sean Coutourier has re-signed with the Flyers on a six-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $4.33 million. Now, far be it from anyone west of King of Prussia to give a shit if Ed Snider wants to go ahead and overcommit dollars to an unstable cap cieling with Jakub Voracek approaching unrestricted free agency. And there are schools of thought that Coutourier has an offensive upside that he has not yet fully developed at the age of only 22 (he’ll be 23 in December) that warranted him being a first round pick. The Flyers are getting cost certainty where they know at least what the floor is on Coutourier, and likely overpaid a little to buy up two years of unrestricted free agency considering that Coots broke into the league right away at 18. But given what the hopeful cap hit for Marcus Kruger needs to be for the Hawks, particularly if he’s to remain slotted as the league’s premiere 4th line center (which has given the Hawks the depth to win two of the last three Cups), this is horrific news when looking at the numbers, courtesy as usual of War on Ice.
Now, the first thing that can be compared between the two are size and age. Coots is 6’3″, 200lbs, and is two and a half years younger than Kruger, which does count for something, but isn’t going to wholly account for what is almost double the cap hit of what most observers are optimistically hoping Kruger comes in at. In glancing at the above stats, aside from this past season, Kruger and Coutourier are basically identical in their offensive production. But bad luck for Kruger (97.5 PDO) and good luck for Coots (102.7 PDO) can likely account for almost all of that difference. And Kruger and Coutourier face similarly stiff competition (in the regular season, Kruger’s skyrocketed this post season), but where Kruger has to start and what he does with it absolutely leaves Coutourier in the dust. Coots has never been on the positive side of the ledger in any single regular season or playoff year, and only takes marginally more defensive zone draws than his teammates. However Marcus Kruger, as is common knowledge at this point, is an absolute workhorse, with only the 2014 playoff run marking any prolonged stretch of not carrying at least 50% 0f shot attempts, while literally almost never starting in the offensive zone, especially once April rolls around. Not to mention that Kruger is now aces at the dot after working on things relentlessly, and Coutourier has never even come close to threatening the 50% mark, and neither gets power play time.
Now Kruger has seemingly been adamant about his desire to stay here, with even just yesterday stating his intention to wait out the remainder of the summer and possibly even take a short term deal to be here. And even if these numbers were fair game in an arbitration hearing (they’re not), Kruger declined going through the process. The lingonberries in his private room at Tre Kronor must have something in them, because Kruger stands to make a shitload of money if Coutourier is now the main comp. And any GM doing his homework with access to numbers no one in the public has ever heard of likely knows the value Marcus Kruger, still making him a risk for an offer sheet for minimal cost going back. The Hawks in all likelihood know this as well, and they would be well served in not pissing away the good will they’ve earned with both their player and the public by letting him twist in the wind. It’s readily apparent the market for Bickell and Versteeg is non existent, and that’s not going to change if the Hawks are even further over the cap than they already are. The time is now to get Kruger back into the fold before another contract like this sets the bar even higher for him. Or to at least get him back before he realizes how high that bar already is.