LA Kings Sean Durzi

Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What can Sean Durzi’s next contract look like?

Sean Durzi was one of the most promulgated prospects in the LA Kings system, and when he was allowed to show off his skills and development in the NHL earlier in the year, he made it count. 

Recording two points (one goal and one assist) in a 6-2 loss to the team that initially drafted the defenseman in 2018, the Toronto Maple Leafs, he looked like the offensive defenseman that the LA Kings had been missing for the last few seasons. 

The Leafs picked Sean Durzi in the 2018 NHL entry draft. He was selected 52nd overall, coming fresh off a 49 point season in the OHL. 

The following season, he was traded. The Toronto Maple Leafs packaged up Sean Durzi’s unsigned rights along with former second-round pick Carl Grundstrom, and a first-round pick (which turned out to be Tobias Bjornfot) to the Los Angeles Kings, in exchange for veteran, two-time Stanley Cup champion Jake Muzzin

On April 1st, 2019, LA Kings’ general manager Rob Blake agreed on a three-year entry-level contract with Sean Durzi. This contract would begin instantly, as he would play the very next season with the Ontario Reign. With the contract in motion in 2019-20, his ELC would expire on July 1st, 2022.

This leads us up to just a few months from now. Durzi finally earned a perpetual spot on the roster, and he’ll look to make a bit of extra cash this upcoming off-season. Appearing in 40 games with the Kings this year, Durzi is up to 16 points.

Durzi has left all of us speechless with his skill, speed, effort, and offensive upside. While the defensive gimmick still needs to be worked on for the 23-year-old, he’s been able to leave us in awe with these types of moves:

Sean Durzi’s proven himself as an NHLer, and now it’s time for him to get paid like one in the off-season. That’ll be a complicated contract to assess due to his shortened time in the NHL and his first non-ELC contract. It’ll be risky to extend him long-term at a ridiculous price.

Today, we’ll take an analytical dive into Sean Durzi’s next feasible contract, and we’ll try to make an educated guess on how long and how expensive Durzi’s next deal will be.

Market Price

Market value is one of the most provocative ways to learn about how players sincerely benefit their team and their on-ice performance. BeiFindingat player is worth how much money, helps us solve issues with cap space. Using an analytical market price on a player can help us determine which player is overpaid, underpaid, and even what his next contract should be priced at.

*Photo Credit: The Athletic

The Athletic affirms that Sean Durzi has a market value of $3.9 million. His offensive skill, as well as his assist and point production, grievously favors him in this sense. His lack of defensive proficiency, on the other hand, drags him down. 

The market value is heavily determined by GSVA, a tool used to analyze a player’s isolated value to his team and his analytical scale value. 

$3.9 million for Sean Durzi sounds realistic enough if you’ve seen him play, but it is risky to give him that much. We’ve only seen Durzi on NHL ice 40 times in his life, and giving him almost four million bucks would be irresponsible and could hurt the LA Kings cap structure.

Sean Durzi is currently 6th in market value among all NHL rookie defensemen, with $3.9 million.

Comparables

Sean Durzi is hard to compare by virtue of his minimum games played. A player that has played 40 career games in the NHL isn’t easy to compare to players that have been in the league for years. Thank goodness analytics exist!

Using points, GAR (goals above replacement), WAR (wins above replacement), SPAR (standing points above replacement), and other smaller microstats, we can find comparables. Again, it’s a small sample size, but these are the players that relate to Sean Durzi the most after their first 38 career games.

I’ve also gone ahead and added the cost of their ELCs, as well as the contract they received after their ELC expired. The closest comparables to Sean Durzi (so far) are Dean Kukan, Samuel Girard, Dmitry Kulikov, Nate Schmidt, and Matt Dumba.  

Now that we know the five closest comparables to Sean Durzi’s first 38 games (since 2007), we can finally get to the good part: the contract structure.

Value of the Contract

This one will be easy to find. In Tot a good picture of Durzi’s projected contract value, we have to find the weighted average of every player’s post-ELC contract. 

Note: instead of $635k and $700k (Schmidt and Kukan’s post-ELC value), I’ll use the current league minimum in the NHL, which is $750k.

The weighted average of all those contracts, you may ask? $1,860,000, or rather yet, $1.86 Million. To me, that seems perfect. Durzi can make just a smidge under two million dollars to prove himself as a player on a short-term deal, and once he has proven himself as a top player, he’ll earn his extra cash.

The money seems to work out for everyone, as basic stats go. The LA Kings lock up one of their best younger players to a deal that won’t affect the cap in any significant fashion, while Durzi earns about a million more dollars than he currently does. In fairness, this is perfect money for Sean Durzi. He’s proven himself enough to be in the NHL, but he still needs a year or two more to show off that he’s seriously worth more.

Length

We’ve already agreed that the deal must be short since the money is cheap. It’s your barometer bridge deal that every NHL team has and will do. No matter what the term will be (if the contract ends in RFA status), Durzi will have arbitration rights. Therefore, a three-year deal that ends in RFA status could lead to Durzi heading to arbitration. Then, he could play for an extra year, then walk in free agency. So, now we know that doing a three-year deal won’t work because of arbitration. Doing anything more than three will lead to UFA status. Also, Durzi won’t take $1.86 million on a long-term deal.

So, the length of the deal will either have to be one or two years long. My philosophy is that signing young players to long-term contracts at a low price will always work out. In this case, it applies to Durzi perfectly. He’ll be able to prove that he’s a high-scoring offensive defenseman in those two years, and once the deal is over, the Kings will be able to afford to pay extra thanks to Anze Kopitar’s 10 million dollar contract ending at the same time as Durzi’s possible deal ending.

Therefore, the term should be two years. If Durzi can prove himself as a player, he’s destined to be during the duration of the two-year deal. He’ll earn a more extended contract with even more money. The LA Kings will gain more and more caps every year, and Durzi will be more affordable in two years than he would be now. With all that being in mind, Sean Durzi’s rough projected contract for next year would be a two-year deal, with an AAV of $1.86 million.

Hopefully, Sean Durzi continues to grow as a player so that the Kings can improve their defensive core around similar players of his style. Whatever Durzi does get in the off-season, it’ll be worth it. He’s way too good to lowball.

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