NHL Free Agent Predictions – Right Wing Edition

The Free Agents

Unrestricted

  • Alexander Radulov, 30: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $5,750,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Montreal:
      • 76 regular season games: 18 goals, 36 assists, +10 rating, 16 powerplay points, 12.2 S%, 54.2 CF%
      • 6 playoff games: 2 goals, 5 assists, Even Rating, 22.2 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Radulov bet on himself last offseason by agreeing to a one-year contract after spending four seasons in the KHL.  His contract was a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Canadiens and he paid off in spades for the team.  Montreal relied on his production quite a bit this season and they are going to need to bring him back in order to maintain the level of offense they had this season.  Losing him would mean a great setback for the team and even the potential of not making the playoffs next season.
      • Radulov will certainly be looking for some long-term security in his next contract, as he is already almost 31 years old and will try to capitalize on his solid season.  I’m not certain how important salary is to him since he probably made a lot of money playing in Russia, where there is no salary cap and the money earned is tax-free.  I think that a $30 million deal is definitely reasonable, but the question will be whether it will be for five or six years.  I am predicting that he will want the extra year, get a NMC, and agree to a 6 year deal with an AAV of $5 million.  This gives the Canadiens more flexibility each season, gives Radulov an extra year of security, and Montreal would be more likely to give him that NMC.
  • Jaromir Jagr, 45: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $4,000,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Florida:
      • 82 regular season games: 16 goals, 30 assists, +2 rating, 24 powerplay points, 13.3 S%, 55.4 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • At this point in his career, Jagr isn’t nearly as productive as he was even three seasons ago.  He has finally started to lose a step but is still very strong on the puck and is lethal on a powerplay.  He has signed one-year deals for five consecutive seasons now and that doesn’t look like it will change for next season.  There seems to be very little chance that Jagr will return to the Panthers as he doesn’t fit their style of play and has been slowing down his linemates of Barkov and Huberdeau so I think he will be playing elsewhere next season.  Some team is guaranteed to take a chance on the veteran who has one of the most illustrious careers in league history and, at the very least, he is a revenue-generator for a team.  There is something to be said about him playing in states with no income tax as it has been made known that he is trying to maximize his earnings while still in the league.
      • Florida, Texas, and Nevada are the only stats with NHL franchises that don’t have state income taxes.  Jagr has played for the Panthers and Dallas and the Lightning have no room for him on their roster.  I actually think he will end up with the Vegas Golden Knights.  They will have the money, he would be great in the locker room for a new, and potentially young, team, plus he can help create a hockey culture in that city.  If he plays well during the early part of the season he can then be traded to a contending team with the possibility of winning another Stanley Cup.  I am predicting that he will sign a 1 year, $4 million deal with Vegas.
  • Jarome Iginla, 39: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $5,333,333
    • 2016-17 Stats, split between Colorado and Los Angeles:
      • 80 regular season games: 14 goals, 13 assists, -30 rating, 11 powerplay points, 9.2 S%, 49.8 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • This past season was a rough one for the future hall-of-famer, as he had his lowest goal mark since the lockout season of 2012-13.  He has certainly slowed down significantly and his shot is his only real weapon at this point, making him mostly a powerplay specialist.  There is still a place for what Iginla can offer and I think he will have suitors.
      • I think that Boston, Carolina, Montreal, Ottawa, and Calgary could all have interest in signing Iginla.  I think that there is something to be said about Iginla recently buying a house in the Boston area and will end up back with them.  I am predicting he signs a 1 year deal, worth $3 million with the Bruins.
  • Shane Doan, 40: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $3,876,134
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Arizona:
      • 74 regular season games: 6 goals, 21 assists, -3 rating, 5 powerplay points, 4.2 S%, 47.8 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Doan is either going to re-sign with the Coyotes or he will retire.  There really aren’t any other options after he chose to not waive his NMC to be traded to a contender at the trade deadline.  I’m not certain how much he has left at this point in his career, but he is just one season removed from a 28 goal season.  He was also severely snakebitten this season, with just a 4.2 shooting percentage while his career mark is 10.2%.  It seems that as long as Doan wants to keep playing he will have a roster spot with the Coyotes.
      • I predict that he will return to Arizona on a 1 year deal worth $3 million.
  • Drew Stafford, 31: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $4,350,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, split between Winnipeg and Boston:
      • 58 regular season games: 8 goals, 13 assists, +6 rating, 4 powerplay points, 7.3 S%, 48.2 CF%
      • 6 playoff games: 2 goals, -2 rating, 1 powerplay goal, 14.3 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Stafford was definitely better in his 18 regular season games with the Bruins than in his 40 games with the Jets.  He was also fairly productive in his six playoff games and seems to be a good fit in the Boston system.  He is certainly not worth the contract he was playing under but is more of a third-liner at this point in his career and should be paid as such.  Playing without the pressure of such a large contract could be huge for Stafford going forward and could make him more productive.
      • I believe that Boston could have interest in bringing Stafford back, and could receive interest from Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa, and Carolina.  I predict that he will actually return to Buffalo on a 3 year deal with an AAV of $2.5 million.
  • T.J. Oshie, 30: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $4,175,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Washington:
      • 68 regular season games: 33 goals, 23 assists, +28 rating, 13 powerplay points, 3 shorthanded points, 23.1 S%, 50.9 CF%
      • 13 playoff games: 4 goals, 8 assists, +2 rating, 2 powerplay goals, 14.8 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • T.J. Oshie has continued to develop into a better all-around hockey player as he has progressed through his career.  He set a new career high in goals this season (33) and had his second highest points total.  Better yet, most of his goals were scored at even strength play, highlighting his ability to excel in five on five situations.  There is reason to believe that he may not be able to maintain this scoring pace in that he had a 23.1 shooting percentage during the regular season, a significant increase from his career average of 13.4%.  Despite this, Oshie has found great chemistry with Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin and has been at his best since he became a Capital before last season.  The Capitals have also excelled since acquiring Oshie and he has proven his ability to play in all situations.  I think that here is mutual interest from both sides to have Oshie back in a Washington sweater next season and at the time of writing this (5/30) there have been rumors that a deal between the two is all but done.  I think that while there are plenty of teams that would love to sign Oshie, the Capitals are still the best fit for him.  That does mean, however, that he will most likely take a pay cut compared to what he would earn on the open market.
      • I predict that he and Washington get a new deal done with the details of 6 years with an AAV of $5 million.  This gives Oshie a raise over his previous contract while also giving him long-term security.  It also allows the Capitals to bring an elite scorer back at a reduced rate and give them a few more opportunities to win a Stanley Cup.  I do, however, think that there is a chance Oshie only wants a short contract, with the understanding that he is taking a reduced salary, in order to sign a bigger contract when his upcoming deal expires.  I don’t think that is most likely though.
  • Ales Hemsky, 33: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $4,000,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Dallas:
      • 15 regular season games: 4 goals, 3 assists, -1 rating, 2 powerplay points, 13.3 S%, 49.7 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Hemsky missed most of this season with a hip injury that ultimately needed surgery to fix.  That could have an impact on his playing situation next season.  One bright spot is that this injury is largely just a blip on the radar, as he has played at least 75 games each of the previous three seasons.  He also showed that he can still score in the games he appeared in, putting up seven points in 15 games.  I think that he will have some teams looking to take a chance on the veteran, seeing him as a low risk, high reward candidate.  I think that Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, and San Jose could all have interest in signing him.
      • I believe that Hemsky may end up signing with Ottawa for a 1 year deal worth $2 million.  He had quite a bit of success in the 20 games he played for them after the trade deadline during the 2013-14 season, scoring 17 points.  He could fit in quite well on their third line and wouldn’t have high expectations placed on him.  If he proves to be an NHL-quality scorer again, he can help Ottawa greatly and there would be no real loss if he didn’t pan out.
  • Justin Williams, 35: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $3,250,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Washington:
      • 80 regular season games: 24 goals, 24 assists, +14 rating, 10 powerplay points, 14.4 S%, 53.8 CF%
      • 13 playoff games: 3 goals, 6 assists, Even Rating, 1 powerplay goal, 10.3 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Mr. Game 7 couldn’t work his magic with Washington as they dropped game seven of the conference semifinals against Pittsburgh.  That letdown isn’t indicative of how successful Williams’ two seasons in Washington were.  This season, he scored 24 goals, his highest total since the 2006-07 season when he scored 33.  He has proven that he is still a very good hockey player even as he approaches the twilight years of his career.  He still has a lot to bring a good hockey team, whether it be on the ice, where he has constantly scored timely goals, or in the locker room, where he can bring veteran leadership and a winning mentality.  I think that he could have quite a few suitors lined up to pitch contracts to him and he should have the opportunity to choose where he plays.  I’m certain that Washington would love to have him back but I think that he will become one of the players let go as a result of their high cap hit.  I think apart from the Capitals, I could see Williams getting interest from Buffalo, Carolina, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, St. Louis, and San Jose.
      • I think that the negotiations with Williams will come down between Toronto, Edmonton, St. Louis, and San Jose.  I picked these four teams because I consider them to be the closest to being a championship team out of all of them.  I predict that Williams will sign with Edmonton on a two year deal with an AAV of $3 million.  This gives Williams essentially the same deal he had with Washington and he will be on a contending team once again with a strong chance of playing on a line with Connor McDavid, which will boost his statistics greatly.  In Edmonton’s case, they currently have a little over $19 million in cap space for next season but still need to re-sign Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian, and figure out their backup goaltender situation and defense.  Those signings should still give the Oilers enough cap space to sign Williams and a short-term deal wouldn’t hurt them in the long run.  He would also bring more playoff experience and would be a great presence on a young team.
  • Radim Vrbata, 35: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $1,000,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Arizona:
      • 81 regular season games: 20 goals, 35 assists, -18 rating, 15 powerplay points, 8.6 S%, 46.8 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Before breaking down potential landing spots for Vrbata, something has to be said about the fact that he has now had three different stints with the Coyotes franchise.  He returned there last offseason on a one year, $1 million deal after two years in Vancouver where he made $5 million per season and scored 44 goals in his two seasons.  I can’t imagine that he didn’t have offers from other teams that would have paid him more than $1 million per season.  My guess is that he just likes living in Arizona and may even value that more than he wants to win a Stanley Cup.  Therefore, I have to consider the Coyotes to be a strong contender to re-sign him.  Beyond Arizona, however, I also think Florida, Montreal, and Ottawa having interest in signing him.
      • I think that no matter where Vrbata signs, as long as it’s not Arizona, it will be a one-year deal, which will allow him to return to the Coyotes after one season if he chooses to. Despite this, I am predicting that he will sign with Montreal on a 1 year, $3.5 million deal.  He could potentially have quite a bit of chemistry with Alex Galcheyuk (if they keep him) or Alexander Radulov, and the Canadiens desperately lacked scoring this season.
  • Tommy Wingels, 29: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $2,475,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, split between San Jose and Ottawa:
      • 73 regular season games: 7 goals, 5 assists, -11 rating, 8.6 S%, 47.6 CF%
      • 9 playoff games: 0 points
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • When the Sharks signed Wingels to his expiring deal prior to the 2014-15 season, it looked like he was destined to become a 20 goal scorer.  His first season of the deal was successful as he scored 15 goals but then his production slipped quite a bit the follow two seasons.  It has slipped so much that he is certainly not a player worth $2.475 million per season and he probably fits best on a team’s fourth line.  I think that he can still be productive on the correct team and, assuming that he won’t receive an expensive contract, he won’t be a high risk player. I think that Wingels may be targeted by teams close to the salary cap that are looking to help him find his scoring touch once again.  I could see Chicago, Columbus, the Islanders, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Los Angeles.
      • I predict that he will end up signing with Chicago on a 1 year, $1 million deal, assuming that they can clear enough salary to get under the salary cap.  I think this just screams a Blackhawks deal since they never have much cap space at this point and they have done an excellent job at capitalizing on players who have underperformed.  Wingels would have interest in signing with Chicago since he was born and raised in the state of Illinois.
  • P.A. Parenteau, 34: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $1,250,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, split between New Jersey and Nashville:
      • 67 regular season games: 13 goals, 15 assists, -16 rating, 8 powerplay points, 10.6 S%, 50.5 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Parenteau is still an amazingly consistent player even as he continues to age and is a quality fit on a team’s third or fourth line.  He can offer a team a really solid veteran presence in the locker room, some playoff experience, and the ability to score goals.  I could see Buffalo, Florida, New Jersey, Ottawa, Los Angeles, and he could even be a good candidate to be signed by Vegas.
      • I think that Parenteau will sign a 2 year deal with Florida with an AAV of $1 million.
  • Patrick Eaves, 33: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $1,000,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, split between Dallas and Anaheim:
      • 79 regular season games: 32 goals, 19 assists, -2 rating, 19 powerplay points, 15.3 S%, 52.0 CF%
      • 7 playoff games: 2 goals, 2 assists, Even Rating, 10.5 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Patrick Eaves may have been one of the most unlikely players to score 30 goals this season.  Prior to this season, his highest goal total was only 20 and that occurred in his rookie season, all the way back in the 2005-06 season.  This may make it seem like his performance this season won’t be repeatable, and he may not score 30 goals again, but I think another 25 goal season is certainly a possibility. His shooting percentage of 15.3 % wasn’t that much higher than some of his other seasons and he has proven himself to be very good on the powerplay, always a recipe for high rates of scoring.  I think that Eaves will have plenty of teams offering him multi-year contracts this offseason after how well he played this season. Previously, his most lucrative deal was for three years with an AAV of $1.4 million and he should surprise that deal this offseason.  I think that Anaheim will have interest in retaining Eaves considering how well he played for them after the trade deadline, Dallas will have interest in bringing him back, as well as Carolina, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, and Los Angeles could all offer him contracts.
      • I think that there is a very good chance he could sign with Calgary because he was born there but I don’t know how important the idea of returning home is to him.  I actually will predict that he will sign with Carolina on a 4 year deal with an AAV of $3 million per season. I believe this to happen because he played for them previously and thus has experience with the organization and knowledge of the area.  The Hurricanes also have more money to spend this offseason than any other team besides Vegas and could simply outbid any of the other teams if it comes down to that.  Eaves would have the chance to be on their first powerplay unit as well as skate in their top six, and the Hurricanes are already on the cusp of being a playoff team, so he should have the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup if that is of high importance to him.

Restricted

  • Tyler Toffoli, 25: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $3,250,000
    • 2016-17 Outlook:
      • 63 regular season games: 16 goals, 18 assists, +6 rating, 7 powerplay points, 1 shorthanded point, 9.7 S%, 56.9 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • I’m not certain if the Kings had reached out to Toffoli last offseason about discussing a possible extension, but if they did and if he turned down any conversagtions, then he is probably regretting that decision right now.  This season, Toffoli had his lowest point total in two seasons and the second fewest goals of his career.  That doesn’t mean that he isn’t still a key part of the team’s future, it’s just that he may not be an elite goalscorer on the cusp of scoring 40 goals per season.  To me, that gives the Kings the upper hand in contract negotiations because they should have the chance to long down Toffoli’s prime years at a much lower cap hit than originally anticipated.  That doesn’t mean, however, that he isn’t due a raise because he still is.  The question will be where the two sides can come together on length of contract, because the Kings will want to sign him to as long of contract at a lower cap hit as possible while Toffoli would probably like a smaller deal to prove he can score 30 goals once again.
      • I think that they will agree on a 3 year deal with an AAV of $4 million.  This contract gives Toffoli a sizable raise while also allowing him to reach free agency as a 28 year old, giving him the opportunity to maximize his earning potential.  For the Kings, it means that they won’t have to negotiate another deal next offseason and by the time he reaches free agency again they will have some more money off their books and could potentially trade away or buy out some of their bigger deals as they will only have one year or so left at that point.
  • Nino Niederreiter, 24: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $2,666,667
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Minnesota:
      • 82 regular season games: 25 goals, 32 assists, +17 rating, 14 powerplay points, 13.4 S%, 55.4 CF%
      • 5 playoff games: 0 goals, 1 assist, -2 rating
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Niederreiter has now improved his production each of the past four seasons, his four years with the Wild.  He has been amazingly consistent since being with the team and has scored at least 20 goals in three consecutive seasons and surpassed the 50 point threshold for the first time this season. This season, Niederreiter set career highs in nearly every statistical category, including goals, assists, points, plus/minus rating, and powerplay goals and assists.  He has also developed into a strong puck possession player and he set a career high in that metric this season as well.  The result of all of those is that I feel confident Niederreiter will want to work out a deal to stay in Minnesota because he has, by far, played his best hockey with the Wild after they acquired him from the Islanders after the 2012-13 season.  I also am certain that the Wild want to re-sign him as he is a core member of their roster and is vital to their success moving forward.  The question for them will be whether or not they can clear enough cap space to re-sign both Niederreiter and Granlund, as they have a little over $11 million in cap space currently.  I do, however, expect the Wild to trade away one of their defensemen and also to move one of their bigger contracts in the Expansion Draft.  Regardless of how they do it, they should  have enough space available to re-sign both players.
      • I think that there is an argument for both a long-term and short-term deal on the side of Niederreiter while the Wild will be willing to go the maximum eight years if able.  I predict that they will come together on a 5 year deal with an AAV of $5.5 million and he gets a no-movement clause in the deal, which gave the Wild the additional year.  This still allows him to hit free agency as a 29 year old and he will have the chance to cash in once again and it gives the Wild a great player for a reasonable cap hit.  If he continues to improve and develop, that cap hit will actually look like a steal for the team.
  • Nail Yakupov, 23: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $2,500,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with St. Louis:
      • 40 regular season games: 3 goals, 6 assists, -3 rating, 8.6 S%, 51.3 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Yakupov has consistently proved throughout his NHL career that he wasn’t worth using the first overall pick on.  He wouldn’t even go in the first round if his draft class was re-drafted.  He actually had the worst season of his career this season, scoring just nine points in 40 games.  He has a big problem playing both sides of the puck and has never had a positive plus/minus and his first season with a positive Corsi was this season.  I actually think that next season may be his last chance to play in the NHL because if he has another bad season he may have to return to Russia.  I do think that there will still be teams this offseason who are willing to take a chance on him for one year and see if they can get a high payout for little cost.  I think that Montreal, Washington, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Los Angeles could all have interest in him.
      • I think that the Capitals will end up signing Yakupov to a 1 year, $1 million deal and a large reason for this will be Alex Ovechkin.  The Capitals could certainly use Yakupov on their third or fourth lines and see if they can get some production out of him.  I also think that this would be beneficial to Yakupov’s career as Barry Trotz’s system could help turn him into more of a two-way forward and extend his NHL career.
  • Zack Kassian, 26: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $1,500,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Edmonton:
      • 79 regular season games: 7 goals, 17 assists, +4 rating, 6.4 S%, 47.4 CF%
      • 13 playoff games: 3 goals, 0 assists, +1 rating, 1 shorthanded goal, 15.8 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Kassian most likely saved his career with the past season and a half in Edmonton.  He has rebounded greatly from his substance abuse problems that put his hockey career in jeopardy.  He was pretty good for the Oilers in a depth role and was very effective in the playoffs.  He is still a very fast skater and plays a hard game, never afraid to be the first one in on a forecheck.  I think that Edmonton will want to re-sign Kassian and I’m pretty confident he will want to return there. He also probably won’t be expecting much of a raise so he would work within their salary cap restraints.  However, if they are unable to work out a deal, I am certain other teams will have offers for him.
      • I think that Kassian will re-sign with Edmonton on a 4 year deal with an AAV of $2 million.
  • Jesper Fast, 25: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $950,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with the Rangers:
      • 68 regular season games: 6 goals, 15 assists, +6 rating, 10.7 S%, 47.6 CF%
      • 12 playoff games: 3 goals, 3 assists, +4 rating, 1 shorthanded goal, 23.1 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Fast isn’t an elite scorer and probably has a ceiling of 40 points.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t a great player or any less important to the Rangers.  Fast is a very skilled two-way forward who puts forth a lot of effort to honing the defensive side of his game.  I know that the Rangers value the style of play Fast brings and will want to re-sign him and I’d like to see him get rewarded for what he has brought to the team.  He signed a two year, bridge deal with his last contract and I think the time has come for him to receive a longer-term deal.
      • I predict that he will receive a 6 year deal from the Rangers with an AAV of $3 million.
  • Brett Connolly, 25: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $850,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Washington:
      • 66 regular season games: 15 goals, 8 assists, +20 rating, 1 powerplay point, 18.5 S%, 54.0 CF%
      • 7 playoff games: 0 points, -2 rating
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Connolly had the best overall season of his career despite not playing a full season and being a healthy scratch at times.  I also think that there is something to be said about his plus/minus rating of +20, even though I think the statistic is useless in most instances.  However, being on the ice for 20 more goals than were scored against is quite impressive and, to me, shows that Connolly had great chemistry with his linemates and paid a lot of attention to the defensive aspects of his game.  His linemates for much of the season were Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky, both skilled players who had depth roles on the team this season and both should be returning next season.  I think that Connolly would be best served to return to the Capitals as he already has a relationship with those on the roster.  I also think that the Capitals would be well-served to re-sign Connolly as they could bring him back for very little and he is a great depth player.  He could also develop into a more important role with the team, especially as Burakovsky moves up the depth chart.
      • I think that Washington will re-sign Connolly to a 2 year deal with an AAV of $1 million.
  • David Pastrnak, 21: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $925,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Boston:
      • 75 regular season games: 34 goals, 36 assists, +11 rating, 24 powerplay points, 13.0 S%, 57.8 CF%
      • 6 playoff games: 2 goals, 2 assists, +1 rating, 1 powerplay goal, 20.0 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Pastrnak has emerged in his three seasons in the NHL as one of the game’s premier goalscorers, scoring 34 goals this season, which tied him for 10th most in the league.  He has found himself as on one of the best lines in hockey with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, ensuring that Pastrnak will continue to produce as long as he stays with these linemates.  The Bruins are going to do everything possible to keep Pastrnak in Boston as he is one of their biggest offensive threats.  He will not be cheap, however, but luckily the team has nearly $10.5 million in cap space, which will give them plenty of room to re-sign him.  There have been quite a few examples of contracts signed by comparable players in recent years and their deals should help to shed some light on Pastrnak’s possible contract.  One comparison is St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, who signed an 8 year deal with an AAV of $7.5 million when he was 23 years old.  Pastrnak is two years younger so I think the term could be similar but I’m not sold on the cap hit.  While Pastrnak is an excellent scorer, Tarasenko is still better, having posted three consecutive seasons of at least 35 goals.  That’s not saying Pastrnak can’t develop into this type of scorer, it’s just that he hasn’t had the opportunity to prove it yet.  Another comparison is Calgary’s Johnny Gaudrea, who just played his first year of a 6 year deal with an AAV of $6.75 million and signed the contract when he was 22 years old.  Point-wise, Gaudreau and Pastrnak are similar players, but Gaudreau isn’t the same caliber of scorer that Pastrnak is.  Finally, I’ll bring up Nashville’s Filip Forsberg, who may be the best comparison to Pastrnak. Forsberg signed a 6 year, $36 million deal last offseason at the age of 21 coming off a season in which he scored 33 goals and had 31 assists.  The year prior he had 26 goals and 37 assists, fairly similar to Pastrnak’s abilities.  I believe that Forsberg’s deal is incredibly team-friendly and Pastrnak could easily surpass this contract, although he may want to consider signing a similar deal in order to allow the team to add pieces around him.
      • Looking at all of these comparisons, I think that Pastrnak’s deal will end up going the maximum of 8 years, but end up costing the Bruins a bit more in annual value.  I feel this way because it would be in the best interest of Pastrnak to sign a shorter deal but he can potentially earn more money by signing a longer deal right now with a higher AAV.  I predict his contract will be for 8 years with an AAV of $6.5 million. This puts him below Tarasenko and Gaudreau’s cap hits, but more than Forsberg’s.  It will also allow Pastrnak to hit the open market as a 29 year old and could easily sign another seven or eight year deal.
  • Connor Brown, 26: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $686,666
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Toronto:
      • 82 regular season games: 20 goals, 16 assists, +3 rating, 6 powerplay points, 1 shorthanded point, 14.4 S%, 50.0 CF%
      • 6 playoff games: 0 goals, 1 assist, Even Rating
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Connor Brown may be the most overlooked 20 goalscorer in the league this season since he played on a team that had three rookies who scored at least 20 goals.  A lot of hockey fans probably don’t realize how vital Brown was to the Maple Leafs’ success this season as he played in every situation, even averaging nearly two minutes of shorthanded ice time per game.  Brown is absolutely looking to cement himself as one of the key pieces in Toronto’s young core and will be retained by the team.  He would potentially be looking at a fairly large contract this offseason except that prior to this season, he played in just seven games in the NHL.  Because of that, I think that his new deal will end up being a bridge deal.
      • I think that Brown’s deal will end up either being two or three years but will end up going three because Toronto is going to want to stagger some of their bigger deals and Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Jake Gardiner will all have to be re-signed in two years.  They will have plenty of money going forward to re-sign all of their upcoming free agents, as they already have $12 million in cap space for next season and will have the contracts of Joffrey Lupul, James van Riemsdyk, and Tyler Bozak all coming off the books next offseason.  Because of all of that, I think that Brown’s contract will end up being for 3 years with an AAV of $2.5 million.  That will make him a free agent again at 26 and his cap hit will be in line with other skilled two-way forwards.
  • Brett Ritchie, 23: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $875,000
    • 2016-17 stats, all with Dallas:
      • 78 regular season games: 16 goals, 8 assists, +11 rating, 2 powerplay points, 9.6 S%, 51.0 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • This season was Ritchie’s first full season in the NHL and was one of the better forwards for a Dallas team that greatly underperformed this year.  He was playing the season on a one year deal, his first contract following his entry level contract and will be looking to get something longer term this offseason.
      • I think that Dallas and Ritchie come together on a 4 year deal with an AAV of $2 million, which will allow him to enter free agency again as a 27 year old.
  • Alex Chiasson, 26: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $800,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Calgary:
      • 81 regular season games: 12 goals, 12 assists, -6 rating, 2 powerplay points, 1 shorthanded goal, 11.5 S%, 52.0 CF%
      • 4 playoff games: 0 points, -1 rating
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • With Calgary this season, Chiasson is already with his third team in five seasons, but he may have finally found a landing spot for himself.  His career thus far has been relatively underwhelming and even a bit disappointing.  However, it appears that he is a third line winger on a good team who probably has a ceiling of 20 goals.  He has value still and seems to be a solid fit for the Flames and I feel that they will want to re-sign him, especially considering they may be able to lock him down for several seasons with a cheap cap hit.
      • I predict that his contract will be for 4 years with an AAV of $2 million.  This is a nice raise for Chiasson while also a manageable cap hit for the Flames and won’t hurt them long-term.  It’s a nice number for a player who is consistently in the 10-15 goal range each season.
  • Beau Bennett, 25: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $725,000
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with New Jersey:
      • 65 regular season games: 8 goals, 11 assists, -3 rating, 2 powerplay points, 7.9 S%, 53.4 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Bennett has never developed into the player the Penguins thought he would when he was drafted 20th overall in 2010. The GM who drafted him, Ray Shero, brought Bennett to New Jersey last offseason now that Shero is the GM of the Devils. Bennett received the most playing time of his career this season, appearing in 65 games and had his highest level of production as a result, putting up 19 points.  He has also proven that he is capable of playing a solid two-way game, having a CF% significantly above 50%.  I think that Bennett has finally found his game with the Devils and there should be mutual interest on both sides for him to be re-signed.  He also has seemingly found a role for himself in New Jersey as a depth forward, taking any pressure off him to produce like a top six forward.
      • Bennett has seen his salary decrease with every contract he has signed, starting at $925,000 with his entry level deal and down to $725,000 with the one-year deal he signed with New Jersey last offseason.  I think he may have played well enough to receive a multi-year deal from New Jersey and his cap hit is almost guaranteed to increase as well.  I predict that the will agree to a 2 year deal with an AAV of $1 million.
  • Josh Anderson, 23: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $678,333
    • 2016-17 Stats, all with Columbus:
      • 78 regular season games: 17 goals, 12 assists, +12 rating, 14.3 S%, 46.9 CF%
      • 5 playoff games: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 9.1 S%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • 2016-17 was Anderson’s first full season in the NHL and he wound up scoring the sixth-most goals for the team.  He has proven himself to be a pretty solid scorer across all levels and should continue to develop as a producer in the NHL.  I think that he is part of a very solid, young core that the Blue Jackets currently have and the team will absolutely want him to return next season.  The problem for them is that he is looking to be a prime candidate to be taken by Vegas in the Expansion Draft.  If Columbus is able to convince Scott Hartnell to waive his NMC, then they could use this freed-up protection slot on Anderson.
      • I think that if Columbus is in a place to re-sign Anderson, the deal will be for 2 years with an AAV of $2 million.  That is just about all the more salary the team can afford to offer him at this time and it’s a short enough deal to give Anderson the opportunity to earn more money on his next deal.  Two years also allows Columbus to free up some more salary and they will be able to give Anderson a bigger deal when he is a free agent again.  If Vegas takes Anderson in the Expansion Draft I think that they will give him a longer deal with a higher AAV since they will have a very large amount of cap space available.  Anderson is also young enough and talented enough to help establish a forward core for the future.  A deal with Vegas could be something like 4 years with an AAV of $3 million.
  • Sven Andrighetto, 24: 2016-17 Cap Hit: $633,333
    • 2016-17 Stats, split between Montreal and Colorado:
      • 46 regular season games: 7 goals, 17 assists, +1 rating, 4 powerplay points, 10.3 S%, 51.7 CF%
    • 2017-18 Outlook:
      • Andrighetto is a very hard-nosed hockey player who plays a physical game.  Montreal acquired him at the trade deadline to bolster their bottom six, an area the team didn’t need help in.  He is mostly a fourth-line winger who has experience playing on the powerplay and is young enough to bring some grit and physical play to a competing team.  I don’t think that Montreal will re-sign him since what they need most is scoring and Andrighetto doesn’t bring that.  I do think that Buffalo, Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, and San Jose could all be interested and I actually think he’d be a good fit on Chicago’s roster.
      • I predict that he will end up signing with Calgary on a 2 year deal with an AAV of $1 million.

*All stats and information come from hockey-reference.com, eliteprospects.com, rosterresource.com, spotrac.com, capfriendly.com, and hockeyanalysis.com.

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