Earlier today, the OC Register announced that the Anaheim Ducks and defenseman Luca Sbisa have agreed on a four-year contract extension worth $8.7 million. His cap hit of $2.175 million may look like a steep price to pay for an inexperienced d-man with only 99 games played in his young career, but the Ducks likely know what they are doing.
Last season, the team acquired Sbisa in the Chris Pronger blockbuster. In fact, with the other assets — Joffrey Lupul, first-round picks in 2009 and 2010 and a conditional third-round pick in 2010 or 2011 — either traded or a while away from developing, Sbisa could be seen as the centerpiece of the deal.
There are a few decent indicators of why the Ducks locked him up and why they feel he will succeed:
- He gets paired primarily with Francois Beauchemin, who logs an exorbitant amount of minutes. You can essentially make the argument that the team acquired Beauchemin to be a steady partner for Sbisa.
- His 131 hits lead the team in that category. His totals also rank 34th amongst defensemen in the League.
- He plays in all situations– including the PK where he has logged the fourth-most time on the team.
- He was taken 19th overall back in 2008 and immediately made the Philadelphia Flyers. Although he mainly got the role due to injuries making the Flyers out of camp is relatively impressive.
- The team clearly likes him and developed him the right way.
By locking up this 21-year-old the Ducks make the bet that in four years he will be worth much more than 2+ million a season in cap hit. They are banking on him developing not only into a meaner, bigger version of himself but a good all-around defenseman. If they are grooming Cam Fowler to be Scott Niedermayer than they are likewise hoping for Sbisa to be their Pronger.
Nevertheless, Sbisa is a fine defender and has only his prime to grow into. This signing should be seen as a smart move which should add Sbisa almost immediately to your cheat sheets for next season as he will likely plays an even bigger role on the blue line. Considering that he showed an excellent offensive upside both in the WHL and AHL, it looks like a safe bet that this Italian-born defender will only continue to improve.
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