November 30, 2014

Thomas Drance


Sunday thoughts on a pair of extensions, Buffalo’s hot streak, and the Dallas Stars’ defensive issues. 




The Montreal Canadiens announced a six-year contract extension for forward Brendan Gallagher on Saturday. The deal will carry a $3.75 million cap-hit, and is worth over $22 million in total. I guess Marc Bergevin learned his lesson regarding bridge contracts with P.K. Subban…


This is an absolutely fantastic deal for a secondary scoring forward. The deal only purchases two of Gallagher’s UFA years, but at $3.75 million he’ll provide good value if he’s just the Canadiens’ sixth best forward through his scoring prime. He’s likely to be much, much better than that.


A gritty forward who excels at the net front despite his lack of size, Gallagher is the NHL’s 13th most prolific volume shooter over the past three seasons. He’s also an ace play driver. All 12 of the skaters with whom Gallagher has spent at least 100 even-strength minutes skating alongside did better by Corsi For percentage with Gallagher than they’ve done away from him. 


The contract breakdown is pretty interesting, in that it’s front loaded (likely for escrow protection), but also back loaded (in terms of signing bonuses). The signing bonuses serve as lockout protection, but it’s a pretty odd structure overall. 


Anyway the Canadiens have some cost certainty for a very good top-six forward who will likely outperform the value of his deal significantly over the coming six seasons. Now Bergevin’s attention likely turns to Alex Galchenyuk. 


He’s had a pretty decent fall.




Elsewhere the Minnesota Wild gambled that Marco Scandella’s impressive start to the season wasn’t a mirage, signing the 24-year-old defender to a five-year, $20 million contract extension.


While Gallagher celebrated his extension with a controversial goal, Scandella celebrated his with a controversial head shot on T.J. Oshie.


Scandella doesn’t have quite the track record that Gallagher does, but his deal buys out two UFA years and the market for capable defenders has exploded in recent seasons. In terms of his possession abilities, Scandella has improved in recent seasons and has improved the Corsi For percentage of nine of the 13 teammates he’s spent at least 250 minutes over the past two years. Those aren’t slam dunk results, but they’re decent.


This year Scandella’s shot rate has exploded (which is worth noting for fantasy owners). In fact he’s got a top-20 shot rate among regular NHL defenseman at five-on-five through the first 20 or so games of the year, which is good to see from a two-way guy. He’ll surely score 10-12 goals if he keeps getting pucks through at that rate.


Overall It’s a decent deal and Scandella could provide solid value over the life of this contract, but there’s some not unsignificant uncertainty here. I still consider Scandella to be something of an unknown quantity and the Wild had a few arbitration eligible RFA years remaining if they’d decided to grind him down a bit.


So I somewhat question the timing here, though perhaps the Wild just figured that extensions for Jakes Muzzin and Gardiner (among others) already set the market, so why not dive in?