When a free agent gets signed in the NHL, you don't look at the player.
You criticize the contract.
The Penguins inked forward Brandon Tanev to a six-year deal worth $3.5m per. That's a bit much. The term is 2-3 years longer than I'd like.
But Tanev is fast, tenacious and relentless. Only four NHLers had 200+ hits, 10+ goals and averaged over two minutes of short-handed ice time per game last season. Tanev was one. The Penguins need a player like that.
If you want to parse statistics further, Tanev averaged more goals per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time than Phil Kessel did. The margin was .76 to .75. (You can always find a stat to prove what you want.)
As GM Jim Rutherford noted, when you sign a free agent July 1, you either give him what he wants or don't get him.
Rutherford wanted Tanev, so he paid over the odds. The same happened with every free agent who signed yesterday.
The Penguins' championship window is no more than 2-3 years. What contracts are still around after can be sorted then.
A new CBA comes due in 2022. There will no doubt be buyouts involved.
There's an expansion draft in 2021. The comings and goings of that process could make for some leeway.
It seems a good idea to watch Tanev play for the Penguins before rendering judgment.
It also seems sensible to consider the team's bigger problems, like Evgeni Malkin's tragic performance 5-on-5 last year. Tanev could play to his highest capability, but it won't matter if Malkin isn't back on song at even strength.
But screw logic. It's a lot more fun to get mad right now.
BTW, here's betting Alex Galchenyuk produces more with the Penguins next season than Kessel does with Arizona. Galchenyuk has never had more talent to work with. Kessel has never had less.
Courtesy of Getty Images.