July 20, 2014

Thomas Drance

2014-07-20

11 days left in July and, yep, the big hockey news of the day is Lee Stempniak signing a one-year, $900K contract with the New York Rangers. That’s tremendous value for a New York team that has lost a whole whack of depth this summer.

 

Though Stempniak is pretty much the least “sexy” name in hockey, he’s consistently produced even-strength points and goals at a second line rate and shots at a top-line rate (among regular forwards over the past four years). Hilariously, Stempniak has produced even-strength points at the exact same rate that ex-Rangers captain Ryan Callahan has managed (1.61 points/60) over the past four seasons…

 

With pretty much no term and less than a million against the cap committed to Stempniak, it’s almost impossible for him to not outperform the value of his deal with New York this upcoming season. He’s not the play driver that Benoit Pouliot is, but he’s credible NHL depth for a club that has bled talent up front this summer. 

 

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Arbitration season is upon us and Vladimir Sobotka (who really cares, he’s playing in the KHL next season regardless) and Cody Franson are the first up, with their hearings scheduled for Monday. The Maple Leafs and Franson exchanged “briefs” on Saturday, and reportedly Franson’s camp is seeking a one-year deal worth $4.2 million while the Maple Leafs would prefer to pay Franson $2 million because, yeah, obviously.

 

Based on his sky high offensive production and top-four ice-time, Franson’s comparable players should be the likes of Slava Voynov, John Carlson, Cam Fowler, Dmitry Kulikov and the like. Those players signed for $4 million or more following up on seasons that were materially less impressive than what Franson has managed the past two years.

 

Considering Franson’s production especially – he’s 13th among regular defenders in even-strength points per sixty minutes of even-strenght ice-time the past three years –  I think his $4.2 million ask has a more compelling argument behind it than a $2 million valuation. Should be fascinating to see how this one plays out. 

 

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Coming off of a season in which he put up 53 points, then added 14 more in 17 postseason games while dragging the Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference final, P.K. Subban is going to set the all time record for an arbitration award if he makes it to a hearing.

 

I don’t think he will, because the Canadiens would be insane to let it get that far, but Subban will puncture Shea Weber’s $7.5 million record if he makes it there.

 

Think about it this way, Subban’s comparable players – on the “lower-end” – will be Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Weber; all of whom make/made $7.5 or so as group 2 guys. Of those three, Subban is the most accomplished offensively and is the only guy who has one a Norris.

 

Now I think a reasonable person – Mike Babcock for example – might credibly argue that you’d rather have Pietrangelo, Doughty, Weber than Subban still; but I don’t know how you make that case convincingly to a neutral third party. Certainly in terms of Subban’s stats, his contributions to the success of the Canadiens as a club, the special appeal of Subban as a result of his leadership/charitable contributions/overall bubbly personality – he’s got the best case in arbitration I’ve ever seen. 

 

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Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockery operations John Davidson sees big things from his improved squad going forward. If he wants that boast to be anything besides an empty one, the Jackets better focus in on inking man-child two-way center Ryan Johansen…

 

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