J.T. Compher is in the middle of the best statistical season of his NHL career, with 26 points in 42 games thus far.
Good timing on his part.
Not so much for the Colorado Avalanche.
The 27 year old center is currently in the final year of his four year, $14 million contract that sees him carrying a $3.5M cap hit. As an unrestricted free agent this summer, he’s set to cash in if he hits the open market. With a little over $71 million already committed to next season’s roster, it might be tough for the Avalanche to retain him.
And the bar might have just been set for his new contract.
On Jan. 14, the Boston Bruins signed Pavel Zacha to a four year contract extension that will pay him $4.75 million per season. Zacha, who turns 26 in April, was set to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Like Compher, Zacha is having one of his best seasons to date. Traded to Boston in the summer, he has 28 points in 43 games and has fit in perfectly on the best team in the league.
Pretty similar production to Compher. And that’s not where the similarities end.
Over the course of their careers, they’ve produced at about the same rate. Compher sits at .44 points per game, while Zacha is at .48. And while Zacha produces points at a slightly higher pace, Compher is a better goal scorer.
Both players can play center and wing, but Zacha seems to have settled in at wing in Boston. Compher moved around a bit earlier in his career, but has settled in as a center in recent years. Both players are used on the penalty kill, but Compher is trusted a fair bit more with his team a man down.
Where Compher has the advantage? The playoff resume. And teams will no doubt look at that.
While Compher’s playoff point production is more or less similar to his work in the regular season, he’s had a knack for scoring big goals.
Very big goals.
And the Stanley Cup tax is very real.
If you are looking for a recent example of that, look no further than Barclay Goodrow. At 28, and coming off back to back Stanley Cup victories, he hit the open market.
And did he ever cash in.
Despite only having a career high of 26 points, he was given a six year, $21,850,000 contract. That’s big money and big term, all thanks to a winning pedigree.
The Pavel Zacha contract gives everyone an idea of what to expect, at the bare minimum, this summer. But will the Stanley Cup tax bring Compher’s number up even more?
It just might.
And that just might be too rich for the Avalanche.