Monday, July 30, 2007

Ryder signs, Cheechoo cringes

While $2.5 million, which is the amount Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo will collect for the 2007-08 NHL season, is more than I or any reader of this blog (all one of you) will aspire to make in a decade or perhaps even a lifetime, let alone a year, you can't help but think Cheechoo enters a state of acute depression whenever news breaks of a decidedly lesser forward signing a contract that will compensate him more handsomely than Cheechoo.

The latest example is a one-year, $2.95 million contract signed by Michael Ryder, of all people, yesterday. The RFA was headed to arbitration but settled contract issues before the hearing. Now Ryder isn't exactly some random scrub. He did score 30 goals and 58 points last year and has scored 85 goals and 176 points in a 244-game career that includes a selection to the 2004 All-Rookie Team. But the real insult added to Cheechoo's injury is that Ryder signed a contract for below market value, presumably for the incentive of becoming a free agent July 1st, 2008 and hop on the first train out of Montreal, yet still received a higher paycheck for his 58 points than the Cheechoo Train.

Since the lockout, Jonathan Cheechoo has scored 100 goals in 180 regular-season and playoff games, second in the NHL during that span to only Ottawa's Dany Heatley. However, among forwards with NHL contracts for the 07-08 campaign, Cheechoo ranks 93rd in salary earned. That's right, 93rd. Now, this certainly isn't meant to be taken as a complaint. I'm ecstatic that the Sharks save valuable cap space by paying Cheech eons less than market value. What this does do is shed some light upon the intelligence of Doug Wilson. For all his faults, give DW some credit for locking up Cheechoo in February of '06, before he won the Rocket Richard trophy and helped Joe Thornton become league MVP.

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