• Thu. Sep 29th, 2022

Ice Hockey Player Jordan Kyrou Signs $65 Million Extension As Paydays For Younger NHL Players Trend Upward

Sep 21, 2022

According to Forbes, With a week to go before training camps open for the 2022-23 season, money is tight in the NHL. A $1 million-per-team increase in the league’s hard salary cap this summer hasn’t done much to alleviate the pressure, and some players are getting squeezed.

But even if general managers can’t hand out big contracts for the upcoming campaign, they’ve shown an unexpected willingness to lock up some of the breakout stars of 2021-22 with fat long-term extensions.

The latest announcement came Tuesday, when St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong announced that he’d inked forward Jordan Kyrou to an eight-year pact. The detail will take effect in the 2023-24 season and carries a cap hit of $8.125 million per season.

Drafted in the second round by the Blues in 2016, Kyrou needed some time to adjust to the NHL. The first three years of his entry-level contract looked like this:

2018-19: 16 NHL games, 3 points

2019-20: 28 NHL games, 9 points

2020-21: 55 NHL games, 35 points

Off his potential from the shortened 2020-21 campaign, the Blues inked Kyrou to a two-year bridge contract with a cap hit of $2.8 million per season.

Then — everything clicked.

Last season, Kyrou broke out with 27 goals and 48 assists for 75 points in 74 games — cementing his spot in the Blues’ top six. He’s now locked up at a star’s salary through his age-32 season — all of his prime hockey years.

The deal also keeps Kyrou in lockstep with promising Blues center Robert Thomas. One year younger, he was drafted 20th overall in 2017. Thomas made the jump straight to the NHL after his junior career was complete, and was progressing well until thumb and shoulder injuries slowed him down in the third year of his entry-level contract.

2018-19: 70 NHL games, 33 points

2019-20: 66 NHL games, 42 points

2020-21: 33 NHL games, 12 points

Kyrou and Thomas have different agents, who work for different agencies, but are on identical salary paths. As a restricted free agent without arbitration rights last summer, Kyrou signed his two-year bridge deal first, on Aug. 3. Thomas inked an identical contract seven weeks later, on Sept. 21.

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Then, he produced almost identical numbers: 20 goals and 77 points in 72 games in 2021-22. The two young forwards boosted the Blues’ core at a time where 34-year-old David Perron moved on to Detroit as an unrestricted free agent this summer, and where captain Ryan O’Reilly and sniper Vladimir Tarasenko will both have the option to test free agency next July.

“They took two-year contracts with the understanding that if they did their job, we would do our job, and within a year, I realized they were doing their job, being top players on our team at 22 and 23,” Armstrong told Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic. “That’s why the bridge deals are important for us, just to give us a little bit more information. You have to make that decision if you want to commit long-term.”

This summer, Thomas went first. He inked his eight-year extension on July 13, the first day he was eligible, at the same $8.125 million cap hit that Kyrou agreed to this week.

Thomas’s deal didn’t just help set the market for his teammate. It also kicked off an unusual pattern.

The days are gone when NHL players earned their biggest contracts based on what they’d already accomplished, rather than what they’re going to do. But general managers have typically been reluctant to hand out bank-breaking long-term deals to young players unless they’re superstars like Connor McDavid. Even current Hart Trophy winner Auston Matthews settled for six years on his second contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, as did top defenseman Cale Makar with the Colorado Avalanche.

Since the NHL’s 2022-23 business year began on July 13, just 12 contracts with terms of six years or more and average annual values above $6 million have been handed out. Eight of those 12 deals went to players who, like Kyrou and Thomas, are 25 or younger.

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Sources: Forbes

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