Everybody knows one of my pet peeves is when people look at Paul Stastny's salary and decry him as overpaid. While that is true in the general sense (that is to say that the general consensus feels that all professional athletes are overpaid) it is not true in the specific, relative sense. Before he signed his current contract that took effect before this season, his numbers were comparable to several payers, the most likely being Anze Kopitar of the LA Kings who signed a 7-year deal with a $6.8 million per year hit. That deal grows to $7.7 million in salary by 2016. Stastny signed to a 5-year deal with a $6.6 million per year cap hit that reflects the salary each season (i.e. not bump toward the end of the contract's term). Now we've heard that Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals has signed to a 10-year deal at $6.7 million per year. Aside from the fact that the CBC apparently can't tell the difference between Peter and Paul, there's very little details about the new Backstrom offer. It does appear to grow from a salary-per-year perspective to as much as $8 million per season if Capgeek.com is to be believed.
Now, let's look at the other important numbers for these three players.
Stastny (through first three seasons): 163 GP 63 G 122 A = 0.96 Points Per Game
Kopitar (through first three seasons: 236 GP 79 G 125 A = 0.86 Points Per Game
Backstrom (through first three seasons): 246 GP 69 G 189 A = 1.05 Points Per Game
Pretty comparable. If anything, Washington may have underpaid given Backstrom hasn't missed any games so far in his career. That 10 year term may be risky as he'd be 32-ish when it's over, but then again you could use the DiPietro logic and assume that he'll be a possible HoFer and still be a bargain at the end of the contract so you never know.
One other thing to consider is the post-season performance of each player. Before he signed his current contract Kopitar hadn't sniffed the playoffs while Stastny had 3 points in 9 games back in 2008. Backstrom has seen plenty of playoff action pre-deal (21 points in 21 games), so we'll have to give the edge to the Swede on that one. He (Backstrom) also hasn't played with any supposed "weight of a big contract" to date, while Statsny and Kopitar have a season under their new deals. This season Kopitar wracked up 34 goals and 47 assists in 82 games (0.96 points per game) and 5 points in 6 playoff games. Similarly, Stastny managed 20 goals and 59 assists in 81 games (0.98 points per game) with 5 points in 6 playoff games. There isn't an appreciable drop in Stastny's or Kopitar's numbers. There weren't any appreciable gains either and they are both arguably on better teams than some of the dogs they played on in the early years of their careers. Neither is exactly playing with the all world talent on their wings like Backstrom though.
But I guess my question at the end of this rambling schpeel is this:
How is Stastny overpaid when compared to his comparables? If Backstrom is your comparison, how do you remove the Ovechkin bump from his numbers? Does his additional 0.09 points-per-game necessitate a contract that runs into 2020? Would you prefer to have Stastny on the books for a longer term at a lower price? Is there anybody else his age with his experience that is making less and producing more?
UPDATE: From the Rink has some more thoughts on the Backstrom signing.