Pominville extension - too risky?

Jason Pominville signed a 5-year $28M contract with the Wild today. He will be 36 when it expires. Is the deal too risky?

There are those on HW (yes, I'm talking to you, Ger!) who would appear to believe so. (I haven't read any comments yet today.) However, their opinons appear to be based on analyses that looked at the average production of players over time. It occurred to me that this approach may lead to misguided conclusions. Let me explain:
The production of most players does not increase after they have reached the age of 30. (Although, it does for a surprising number of players, according to my small sample.) With very few 'ups' and a whole lot of 'downs', the average is not the way to look at it. Hypothetically, If one was to look at a sample of, say, 50 players over their careers, and the production of 26 of them stayed absolutely flat from age 25 to age 35, and the production of the other 24 drops like Dany Heatley's has been doing, then the average would also have a very significant drop. However, one would have over a 50% chance of signing a player at 30 whose production would not drop through the age of 35; i.e. the production of the median player would remain constant.
Obviously, no player's production curve remains flat over time. However, this does illustrate that looking at the data from a "median" context may be more useful than an "average" context. So, I did (with an admittedly small sample size).

First off, I decided to only look at very good to elite scoring forwards, since (as forwards go), they would be the ones getting the longer term contracts into their 30's. My criteria was 1000 games played, .7 ppg career, must have played to at least 34 years old, and must have played in the 2008 season (or later, in Jagr's case). The later was to limit the number of players I was looking at, since parts of my analysis were not particularly friendly without a personal database at my disposal.

I ended up with 30 players. They are: Jagr, Sakic, St. Louis, Iginla, Alfredson, Naslund, Sundin, Modano, Recchi, Federov, Shanahan, Weight, Roenick, Kovalev, Whitney, Arnot, Stillman, Selane, Koivu, Elias, Kozlov, Hejduk, Tdachuk, Kairya, Sullivan, Nolan, Satan, Sykora, Forsberg, and Brind'Amour.

My results are four ratios. They are: points per year(PPY) [age] 30-35/[age] 20-29; PPY 30-35/U[nder]30; points per game (PPG) 30-35/20-29; and PPG 30-35/U30. They include the 60% (18 players above the ratio and 12 players below), 50% (15 above and 15 below), and 40% (12 above and 18 below). The results:

PPY30-35/25-29: 60% - 0.872; 50% - 0.910; 40% - 0.961
(i.e. the production - in points per year - of 50% of the players from age 30 - 35 was 91% or greater of their production from age 25 - 29).

PPY30-35/U30: 60% - 0.918; 50% - 0.939; 40% - 1.004
(That's right, the PPY of 13 of 30 players was higher from age 30-35 than it was when they were under 30 - and I did not start counting until a player had played at least 41 games in a year.)

PPG30-35/25-29: 60% - 0.906; 50% - 0.932; 40% - 0.980
PPG30-35/U30: 60% - 0.908; 50% - 0.956; 40% - 1.023
(The higher ratios for PPG versus PPY is due to fewer games played - get old, get injured more.)

As you can see, the dropoff of the 'median' players is not as significant as the average numbers would lead one to believe. If we apply the 30-35/25-29 ratios to Pominville we get:
Pominville age 25 - 29: 65.6 PPY; .8180 PPG

Therefore, based on the above (small sample)analysis, Pominville has a:
60% chance of 57 PPY and .741 PPG
50% chance of 60 PPY and .762 PPG
40% chance of 63 PPY and .802 PPG

My thinking is that $5.6M per year with the cap likely rising significantly isn't a bargain, but it also isn't out of line.

The opinions posted here are not those of Hockey Wilderness

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