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Salary is only a number: Duchene & Landeskog contracts, cap percentages, and you

The value of a salary isn't the same from one year to the next as the cap inflates. Let's compare Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog's recent extensions to the league based on the proportion of the cap they take up.

"Hey wait a minute, that guy's copying me!"
"Hey wait a minute, that guy's copying me!"
Thearon W. Henderson

Contract AAV is useful, but because of salary cap inflation, it can be a little misleading. $6m/year in 2014 is not the same as it will be in 2018. While the AAV of a contract gives you a decent idea where their contract fits in to the grand scheme of things, the AAV as a percentage of the total cap is a better number by my eye because it's equally meaningful from one season to the next. I had a look at the new contract extensions to Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog and arbitrarily chose to look five years into the future (from this year) because I Don't Like Scrolling Spreadsheets and that's how much fit on my monitor.

I projected the cap would continue to rise by 5% each year, which is definitely conservative as revenues have increased 6% a year lately, and had a look.

Here's a range of contracts Matt and Gabe fit into (forwards only for obvious reasons) (source is always CapGeek):

Player AAV %cap 13-14 %cap 14-15 %cap 15-16 %cap 16-17 %cap 17-18
Salary Cap - 64.3 67.5 70.9 74.4 78.2
Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall
$6m 9.3% 8.9% 8.5% 8.1% 7.7%
Patrick Sharp $5.9m 9.2% 8.9% 8.5% 8.1% 7.7%
Brent Burns $5.76m 9% 8.5% 8.1% 7.7% -
Matt Duchene $6m - 8.9% 8.5% 8.1% 7.7%
Joe Pavelski $6m - 8.9% 8.5% 8.1% 7.7%
Mike Richards
Tyler Seguin
$5.75m 8.9% 8.5% 8.1% 7.7% 7.4%
Dustin Brown $5.85m - 8.7% 8.3% 7.9% 7.5%
Blake Wheeler $5.6m 8.7% 8.3% 7.9% 7.5% 7.2%
Mike Ribiero $5.5m 8.6% 8.1% 7.8% 7.4% -
Phil Kessel $5.4m 8.4% - - - -
Gabe Landeskog $5,571,429 - 8.3% 7.9% 7.5% 7.1%
Nathan Horton $5.3m 8.3% 7.8% 7.5% 7.1% 6.8%
Marian Hossa $5.275m 8.2% 7.8% 7.4% 7.1% 6.7%
Jeff Carter $5,272,727 8.2% 7.8% 7.4% 7.1% 6.7%
Ryan O'Reilly $5m 7.8% - - - -

I included O'Reilly at the end just for comparison's sake there.

As you can see, this puts a pretty solid number on salary vs. cap inflation. Eberle and Hall's $6 million starting this season are worth 0.4% more than Duchene and Pavelski's in 2014. Brent Burns's $5.76 million this year is actually worth more than their 6 next year. Landeskog's deal basically is the same as Nathan Horton's deal, just started a year later and with a much stupider cap hit. I will take solace in blaming Sherman for this. Make it a round number ffs, accountant, we aren't all as awesome at math as you.

At least it's not something cutesy like $8.7/yr for Sidney Crosby or $42 total for Tyler Bozak, I guess.

I may write a follow-up on this about team composition at large and how the Avs' cap shares don't really look like the rest of the league's, but for now let's just focus on these two deals. Keep in mind these guys are still YOUNG with a capital YOUNG; Duchene is just entering his prime and may not have peaked yet, and Landeskog still hasn't reached his (we hope). Do you think they're good value judging by their comparables? Duchene is a solid YES by my eye, while Landeskog still seems to need to grow into his a little bit.