What does it cost to buy goals on the free agent market in the
NHL? We are looking at

**forwards**who scored x number of goals in a season before**becoming a free agent**since the league had a salary cap, and what we can expect those scorers to earn on the open market. I'm not distinguishing between restricted and unrestricted Free Agents, but I'll break them down into categories by age and number of goals scored. Most players under 26 will be RFAs and most over will be UFAs, with exceptions of course. This is not the complete list of players, but rather the ones who fit my qualifying criteria. They are large samples.
The graphs below show the cost
of each range of goal scorer according to each range of age. Beneath each graph
is the expected term and Average Annual Value of each group. We do see a
paradox where the larger the term, the higher the average annual salary. Often
in contract negotiations, teams can get players to accept a smaller average
salary if it means they'll get a longer term. The reason we don't see AAV
decrease as term increases is because we are looking at differences between
players, not differences in the options available to each player. It tends to
be the better players who get the most term, that's why their AAV is higher.

The Goals statistic is adjusted
into

**Goals***;*a player's goals per game multiplied by 82 games for those who played at least 20 games*. Because the salary cap has grown to $73,000,000 from $39,000,000 all contracts are calculated as a % of the cap and then converted into 2017 numbers. To see the**full range of outcomes**for each category and their corresponding probabilities, scroll down even further.**Buying 10-19 Goals**

**Median contract length and Expected Avg Annual Value:**

**Age 20-25**: 2 years

**$1.9M**(E[AAV])

**Age 26-29**: 2 years,

**$2.5M**(E[AAV])

**Age 30+**: 1 years,

**$2.3M**(E[AAV])

When buying a Free Agent forward who has scored 10-19 goals, there
is not much variation by age. It’s not expensive to buy a goal scorer in this
range, due mostly to an abundant supply. There is an average of 57 of these
free agents any given summer. Over 60% of all 10-19 goal scorers will get 2
years or less on their term, regardless of age. The players who hit the big
contracts in this category are those who add 40-60 assists on top of their
10-19 goals (recent examples Jakub Voracek and Evgeni Kuznetzov).

Of the Under-26 players who
become RFAs after scoring 10-19 goals, 77% get a term of 1-2
years at an average of 2% of the cap (

**$**1.5M**AAV in 2017). A high point total can still lead to a large contract, but the large majority are getting short term deals for a relatively small salary. Looking at the contracts for 10-19 goal scorers which resulted in the 10 biggest overpayments, 60% were aged 28 or 29 and received term of 5 or more years. The worst examples of these were David Clarkson, Scott Gomez, and Alex Semin.**

**Buying 20-29 Goals**

**Median contract length and Expected Avg Annual Value**:

**Age 20-25**: 3 years

**$3.5M**(E[AAV])

**Age 26-29**: 4 years,

**$4.7M**(E[AAV])

**Age 30+**: 2 years,

**$3.8M**(E[AAV])

On average there are 27 of these players on the UFA/RFA market any
given offseason, more than half as many as the previous group. For players aged
26-29, 40% get a term of 5+ years at an average of
8.6% of cap ($6.2M AAV in 2017). When a 20-29 goal scorer reaches the
UFA market, 76% will get a term of 3 years or longer at a significantly higher
wage than comparable RFAs. It's clear from the results that teams are able to
attain wage suppression on the RFA players who score 20-29 goals versus those
who are more likely to be UFAs.

A restricted free agent will
have their wage suppressed because they are mostly only negotiating with one
team. The Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it easy for teams to suppress
the wages of young players, whereas the market itself will naturally reduce the
expected wage for older goal scorers. 2/3 of 20-29 goal scorers over the age of
30 will only get 1 or 2 years of term. Of the over-30 players who received more
than 3 years of term, at least 25% end up resulting in a buyout (like Brad
Richards, Mike Cammaleri, and RJ Umberger), and 75% qualified as one worst
salary cap era contracts for the signing franchise (according to my list of 10
worst contracts for every team). Ergo there is tremendous risk giving
significant term to over-30 aged goal scorers.

**Buying 30+ Goals**

**Median contract length and Expected Avg Annual Value:**

**Age 20-25**: 5 years

**$5.9M**(E[AAV])

**Age 26-29**: 6 years,

**$6.8M**(E[AAV])

**Age 30+**: 2.5 years,

**$5.7M**(E[AAV])

Buying 30+ goals is going to be expensive regardless of age, due
in large part to scarcity. We only see approximately 8 of these players reach
the free agent market any given offseason (with only 3 to 4 becoming UFAs, on
average). A 30-goal scorer who becomes UFA will more often than not get a very
large contract, both in term and annual salary. Those aged 30+ will average
half as much term. There is incredible risk giving long term contracts to
players beyond the age of 30, especially when goal scoring is the primary skill
set you're seeking. It's common to see sharp dramatic goal scoring declines in
players over-30 (like Chris Drury and Loui Eriksson).

For 30 goal scorers under 26
years of age, 65% will get a contract that is 5 years in length or greater.
Teams are more likely to seek long term contracts for young players who can
reach the 30-goal plateau, versus the standard 1-3 year bridge deals that we
often see for less productive players. Two of the "young guns"
who did get shorter term deals are Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Johansen, where
their teams took hardline approaches and forced them into team-friendly contracts.

**Full Range of Outcomes per Group**

__1a) Under the age of 26, at least 30 Goals* before becoming FA:__### Sample size= 29 players

Median term = 5 years

Average Salary per season =

**8.3%**of cap, or

**$6M**in 2017

**65%**get a term of

**5+ years**at an average of 9.5% of cap,

**$6.9M AAV**in 2017.

**20%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 6.4% of cap,

**$4.6M AAV**in 2017.

__1b) Under the age of 26, between 20-29 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 130 players

Median term = 3 years

Average Salary per season =

**4.9%**of cap, or

**$3.6M**in 2017

**47%**get a term of

**1-2 years**at an average of 3.2% of cap,

**$2.3M AAV**in 2017.

**28%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 5.2% of cap,

**$3.8M AAV**in 2017.

**25%**get a term of

**5+ years**at an average of 7.8% of cap,

**$5.6M AAV**in 2017.

__1c) Under the age of 26, between 10-19 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 244 players

Median term = 2 years

Average Salary per season =

**2.7%**of cap, or

**$1.9M**in 2017

**77%**get a term of

**1-2 years**at an average of 2% of cap,

**$1.5M**AAV in 2017.

**16%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 4.2% of cap,

**$3M**AAV in 2017.

**7%**get a term of

**5+ years**at an average of 6.2% of cap,

**$4.5M**AAV in 2017.

__2a) Age 26-29, at least 30 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 23 players

Median term = 6 years

Average Salary per season =

**9.4%**of cap, or

**$6.9M**in 2017

**74%**get a term of

**5+ years**at an average of 9.8% of cap,

**$7M AAV**in 2017.

**26%**get a term of

**1-3 years**at an average of 8.4% of cap,

**$6.1M AAV**in 2017.

__2b) Age 26-29, between 20-29 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 72 players

Median term = 4 years

Average Salary per season =

**6.5%**of cap, or

**$4.8M**in 2017

**40%**get a term of

**5+ years**at an average of 8.6% of cap,

**$6.2M**AAV in 2017.

**36%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 5.8% of cap,

**$4.2M**AAV in 2017.

**24%**get a term of

**1-2 years**at an average of 3.8% of cap,

**$2.7M**AAV in 2017.

__2c) Age 26-29, between 10-19 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 148 players

Median term = 2 years

Average Salary per season =

**3.5%**of cap, or

**$2.6M**in 2017

**56%**get a term of

**1-2 years**at an average of 2.3% of cap,

**$1.6M**AAV in 2017.

**32%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 4% of cap,

**$2.9M**AAV in 2017.

**12%**get a term of

**5+**

**years**at an average of 7.7% of cap,

**$5.5M**AAV in 2017.

__3a) At least 30 years old, at least 30 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 22 players

Median term = 2.5 years

Average Salary per season =

**7.9%**of cap, or

**$5.8M**in 2017

**45%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 8.3% of cap,

**$6M**AAV in 2017.

**32%**get a term of

**1-2 years**at an average of 6.3% of cap,

**$4.6M**AAV in 2017.

**23%**get a term of

**5+ years**at an average of 9.3% of cap,

**$6.7M**AAV in 2017.

__3b) At least 30 years old, between 20-29 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 60 players

Median term = 2 years

Average Salary per season =

**5.3%**of cap, or

**$3.9M**in 2017

**67%**get a term of

**1-2 years**at an average of 4.2% of cap,

**$3M**AAV in 2017.

**20%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 7.3% of cap,

**$5.3M**AAV in 2017.

**13%**get a term of

**5+ years**at an average of 7.3% of cap,

**$5.3M**AAV in 2017.

__3c) At least 30 years old, between 10-19 Goals* before becoming FA:__Sample size= 119 players

Median term = 1 years

Average Salary per season =

**3.2%**of cap, or

**$2.4M**in 2017

**84%**get a term of

**1-2 years**at an average of 2.8% of cap,

**$2M**AAV in 2017.

**16%**get a term of

**3-4 years**at an average of 5.5% of cap,

**$4M**AAV in 2017.

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