Burrows’ value through the Prism of Darren Helm’s Extension

I got paid!

Today, Darren Helm signed an extension with the Detroit Red Wings that will pay him $8.5 million over four years (2.125 million dollar cap-hit). Superficially, that looks quite similar to the contract that Alex Burrows signed in 2009, doesn’t it? How the heck does a player which just 32 career goals find himself signing a contract similar to Burrows’? Is Helm going to break out like Burrows did and score 89 goals over the next three years? Unlikely, but that isn’t what Detroit is paying him for…

Read more about the parallels between Helm’s new deal and Burrows’ 2009 contract  after the jump!

When Burrows signed his extension in March of ’09, he was finishing up his first season as a fixture on the twins’ right wing, a season in which he scored 28 goals. It was something of a gamble from Mike Gillis, but if it played out well, the Canucks would be getting a consistent scorer for far below what the market was valuing 25-30 goal scorers at. That deal has turned out to be money.

How has the value of Burrows’ contract been? In 2011-12, the 31-year-old Quebecer was 15th in the league in goals per 60 minutes, scoring at a rate similar to Bobby Ryan (25 years old), Patrick Sharp (30) and Evander Kane (20). Those are three interesting players to compare him with – Ryan, right in the middle of his star curve; Sharp, a player who broke out in much the same way as Burrows; and Kane, a young player, clearly on the rise to stardom.

Sharp is probably the best comparison for Burrows, and he just recently signed a contract extension for an annual cap hit of $5.9 million. His previous contract was a hair under $4 million. Over the past three seasons, where Burrows’ cap hit was $2 million, Sharp scored 92 goals.

Ryan, six years younger than both Sharp and Burrows, has scored 100 goals over the same period, and now carries a $5.1 million dollar cap hit. Kane, the youngest of the lot, is up for a new contract, but his bonus-laden entry-level deal counted for $3.1 million against the cap.

So how do we end up talking about Darren Helm? Well, his underlying numbers are an easy place to start: Burrows and Helm have comparable Corsi On and Quality of Competition numbers.

Burrows 14.01 TOI 16.1 corsi on -0.459 QoC 1.23 g/60 0.9 pens drawn
Helm 11.79 TOI 11.2 corsi on -0.668 QoC 0.67 g/60 2.1 pens drawn

What we can glean from this is that Helm plays less, but those minutes are similar in difficulty to the minutes Burrows plays. Helm scores at about half the rate that Burrows, but he drives play in those minutes and draws twice as many penalties. Helm’s a pretty interesting player, isn’t he?

Is Helm’s ability to draw penalties a result of his speed? In any case, it’s a clear strength, and no one on the Canucks comes close. Helm is two years younger than Burrows was when he signed his own extension in 2009, and if Helm can begin to fill the net more regularly, Detroit will also have a massive bargain on their hands. Even if he can’t, Detroit is an efficient power-play team, and Helm’s ability to put his opponent’s a man-short will indirectly produce a good deal of offense.

Alex Burrows can start talking about a contract extension with the Canucks once the free agency window opens on July 1st. Clearly, with his scoring ability, he’s due a hefty raise. But will the Canucks be willing to lock him in long term? That seems doubtful- remember, Mikael Samuelsson was 32 when he signed his three year, $7.5 million contract with the Canucks in 2009. That was after a dependable four years with the Red Wings, a period in which he topped out at 20 goals.

So where does Alex Burrows go from here? He’s scored more than Samuelsson had at the same age. Patrick Sharp, with his similar numbers, was just signed and his performance garnered a huge raise. Play well and, like Darren Helm, you’ll get paid. Score on top that? You can skip and jump on your way to the bank. Burrows has done that, and if the Canucks are hoping to keep him in Vancouver for the long-haul, they’ll have to be prepared to open the vault.

  • puck-bandit

    My concern in the past few years is the line; we spoke to his agent and got the hometown discount.Had to throw that in just because I am perplexed when it comes to some of the most recent signings; i.e. Ballard, and will even mention the twins because of what they bring to the table.
    Alex Burrows in my estimation, aside from some of the antics, is one of the better players in the league, and almost all the clubs would love to have this guy. He not only scores, but he brings a element that I think is lacking in our game today, and is exciting to watch. He genuinely plays with heart.
    So what I’m saying here, if they come to him with a skimpy, like Ren and Stimpy offer, this should be the day he should pull up stakes and go to another team. Do we want to lose this guy; hardly. As you have indicated in the comparisons, his play level versus pay stub is way below his worth.
    Our Nuck’s have a small number of players that I think are overpaid, and some have made the sacrifice to sign for less.
    As the clock ticks to a new deal I am really hoping that Mike and Lawrence treat this guy with the respect, and reward that he deserves.

  • You are certainly right to raise the issue of ‘hometown discount’. The one advantage that Gilman and Gillis could point to is their success rate at attracting free agents for less than they might have signed elsewhere (Hamhuis and the Sedins being most notable). The Canucks’ approach is ‘we know you might make more elsewhere, but if you take less to stay, you know you’re going to be on a winner. Do you really want all the marbles to play in [insert team]?’

    None of us would blame Burrows if he went for a bigger salary, though, would we?