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Armchair GM: Brooks Laich

Since, it is officially the offseason, I feel it's time to do my first contract discussion of the summer.  I was going to put this off, but I've been seeing that Brooks Laich has gained some steam as a target for the Ducks, and I don't want people to start saying I'm copying them. You know, because I've already said that Laich should be the Ducks top offseason priority-- in case you thought it was people on the OC Register boards.  You'll find full analysis after the jump

Personally, I think this story will tell you everything you need to know about Brooks Laich. It takes an outstanding hockey player to apologize to fans while he's changing their tire.  It's one thing to say it to the press; it's another thing to say it directly to a fan.  I fully understand that being a good guy doesn't make someone a good hockey player. I love George Parros' charity work, but he'll never be anything but an enforcer and decent 4th line player.  However, this story is indicative of how Brooks plays the game. He'll do anything to win, and is always willing to sacrifice himself for the better of the team.  

Laich has posted 20 goal seasons in 3 of his last 4 campaigns. He's played in 82 games in 3 of the last 4 seasons, and he's never played less than 73 games as a full time player.  He's had over 90 hits for the past 3 seasons, and is a key contributor to Washington's PK and power play. Washington has used him as a key defensive forward, and that's what we need. Laich is the two way depth forward that this team desperately needs. We can put him out there with 30 seconds left and he will make sure to be in front of the Shea Weber shot. 

More important than his willingness to go the extra mile, is the diversity he will bring to the line up. Laich has spent most of his time, recently, on the left wing, but he has also played some center.  We can use Laich as the LW solution for the top line, while Bobby anchors a new third line. We can use him as a veteran presence on a third line with McMillan and one of Sexton, Palmieri, Etem, or whomever. He can take Blake's place on the second line, or my personal favorite, we can use him to make a brand new third line of Laich-McMillan-Ryan. That's a beautiful thing right there. 

Laich gives us options up and down the three lines and provides depth that we desperately need.  He also has the tenacity that will make players around him better.  Laich is like a 2007-era Duck player.  He is everything this team needs to take a step towards regaining the gritty play that was our style for the first 3 seasons after the lockout. 

So that leaves the business.   Now, I'll lay out the contract I like. I'm going to give Laich a 5 year 20 million dollar deal, with the potential for bonuses.  The dollar figures will go 3, 5, 5, 4, 3.  The low figure early gives the Ducks a chance to add Laich for cheap, if they can't move Blake.  It's adding a 4 million player for 3 million dollars.  The increase in the next two seasons will be made more affordable by the decrease in Visnovsky's salary.  Then the salary goes down again to make the contract more affordable during years when Getzlaf, Perry, and Fowler will probably be seeing raises. 

Finally, I think the potential for easily attainable bonuses will make the deal a little more palatable.  Everyone will offer the 4 million dollar deal, but we'll be taking a risk on a 4.5 deal.  Laich gets bonuses for 25 goals a season, and another for trophy nominations. If he gets nominated for a major award, Hart, Art Ross, Selke, Norris, Lady Byng, Lindsay, Vezina, or if he wins the Conn Smythe. Ok, I know he can't win the Vezina or the Norris, but if that dude finds a way, I want to offer him the chance to make the money. Personally, this is an incentive to get him some Selke love.

For me, this is a no-brainer. If Murray is serious about improving forward depth, then Laich is the best option out there.  He'll provide an offensive touch, probably to the tune of about 50 points, as well as toughen up the forward corps while improving the defensive effectiveness of our guys up front.  Laich needs to be the top priority for the Ducks. Don't let this one get away, Murray.