Friday, August 24, 2007

One Less RFA ... Next Year!

Ron Wilson secured Milan Michalek for $26 Million over 6 years ... starting NEXT year! After making $471,000 last season - Milan has done quite nicely almost doubling his salary for this season bringing in $942,000. After that though, look out ... he will be averaging $4.3 Million a year! Michalek was the 6th overall draft pick in 2003, and according to Ron Wilson, is on track to becoming one of the elite forwards in the NHL, which will solidify his spot on the Thornton / Cheechoo line.

According to TSN

''I think we knew this was an element of the new CBA the day it was signed,'' said Wilson. ''When you drop down the age of eligibility of UFA and the accrued seasons, you have to make decisions on players obviously much younger. For us, Milan falls into that age group. He's certainly a multi-situational player who is very mature in his game with certainly a great upside. We think he's going to be a dominant player for many years. You have to understand how this CBA works on a daily basis, you have to make decisions much earlier and much quicker than you did in the past. It's also one of the reasons why we feel that the players we know the best are the ones we've drafted, developed and had a lot of time with.''
Keep in mind that another factor is players hit unrestricted free agency sooner under the current CBA, at age 28 this summer or after seven years of NHL service. With the salary cap to consider as well, teams seem inclined to lock-in their young players earlier to gain cost-certainty.

''I think it gives me more security and I don't have to worry about anything else than just hockey, that's good for me,'' said Michalek. ''I think nothing is going to change in my play, I'm still going to play the same game like I played. It was great to play with those two great players (Thornton and Cheechoo), they're (among) the best players in the NHL and I'm sure it helped me a lot in my career. I'm very happy to stay in San Jose, I think we have a great team for many years to come and I think we can win many Stanley Cups.''
That would be fine with the Sharks, who watched Michalek record 66 points (26-40) with a plus-17 rating in 78 games in 2006-07, his second full NHL campaign. He tied for fourth in the NHL with nine game-winning goals. The Czech native picked up 35 points (17-18) in 81 games as a rookie. Michalek finished the year skating alongside Thornton and Cheechoo, forming a talented and physically imposing first line. Not surprisingly, that helped the six-foot-two, 225-pound winger step his game up.

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