Capped: Candidates to Rebound Next Season – Eastern Conference
This week's Capped looks at a few players who may be cap bargains next year if they can stay healthy.
Then there were two. This Stanley Cup Finals matchup is going to provide plenty of speed, great goaltending, and more storylines than writers will know what to do with.
For fans of the other 29 teams, or people that can never get enough of fantasy hockey throughout the summer, there’s this article. This week, we’re moving East to take a look at some of the top players you can expect to bounce back from seasons derailed by injury.
Cap information from CapFriendly.
Mark Stone – Ottawa Senators
Current Cap Hit: $3,500,000 (RFA, July 2018)
Model Projected Cap Hit: $9,100,000
First off, we’ll start by saying that due to Stone’s point-per-game pace this year, and a few other underlying numbers working in his favour, the projection model seems to quite like him. Take that number with a grain of salt however, as he likely won’t get $9 million with the Senators, or any other team for that matter. Ottawa tends to be stingier with giving out larger contracts, and that will be no different with Stone. It is more likely that we see him below $6 million than we see him above $9 million. My guess would be in the $7.5 million range. One of the more interesting contract situations this offseason either way.
Moving on to the production, Stone was extremely efficient in his 58 games this season, especially at the end, posting 28 points in 20 games to close out the season. Since his season ended early (March 9th) his hot run to close out his year has largely gone unnoticed. The prior three seasons, Stone was consistently scoring at a clip of four points every five games. That changed this season with an increase in his shot rate, as well as a large jump in his individual points percentage (IPP). This suggests that Stone is becoming more of a focal point of the offence, and bodes well for a repeat performance around the point-per-game mark.
Stone was injured after Michael Ferland got tangled up with him, and landed awkwardly on his leg. Most people have forgotten this now, but despite missing the rest of the season, Stone did finish the game, and was on track to return right at the end of the season. He was likely head out as a precaution, due to Ottawa not having much to play for those last few weeks of the season. Don’t get scared away by the injury here.
Kyle Palmieri – New Jersey Devils
Current Cap Hit: $4,650,000 (UFA, July 2021)
Through two injuries early in the season, and stuck behind Taylor’s Hall’s Hart Trophy-shaped shadow, Palmieri managed a very successful season. It’s not just this past year, his last three years have actually been remarkably consistent.
Everyone is looking for a bargain 55-point forward, who puts up above average numbers in the hits, shots, and power-play point categories. If New Jersey ever bumps his average ice time over the 18+ minute per game mark, he becomes a threat to top 60 points.
Palmieri missed a total of 20 games between two separate foot injuries this past season (I was not able to dig up if it was the same foot, so if someone happens across that information, a comment would be greatly appreciated). Either way, a broken bone in the foot is not an uncommon injury amongst NHL players. It is one we have seen many times, and as a result, we know that most players see no lingering effects from the injury, especially in future seasons. This is not likely to be a recurring/nagging injury, and as a result, Palmieri makes a great buy this offseason.
The New York Rangers
Ryan Spooner: UFA (2018-19 Projected – $3,850,000)
Chris Kreider: $4,625,000 (UFA, July 2020)
Kevin Shattenkirk: $6,650,000 (UFA, July 2021)
The New York Rangers had an extremely unlucky season, losing many of their bigger name players to injuries on the road to missing the playoffs for the first time in the last eight years. As a result, coach Alain Vigneault was fired, and we have a new bench boss in the Big Apple – David Quinn being named the replacement yesterday. Very often teams get a bit of a boost with a new coach, and the Rangers have some offensive pieces to be able to put together a better offensive result next season.
By default, having a healthy team will help. Kevin Shattenkirk is one of the premier powerplay quarterbacks in the game, and Chris Kreider a rare breed of power forward. Spooner didn’t actually miss time after being traded to the Rangers at the deadline (missing five weeks in the fall with a groin tear), however from November 24th and on, he scored at a 62-point pace. No Ranger even scored 55 points last season.
Shattenkirk played through a meniscus tear for part of last season before being shut down to have a corrective surgery. His timetable for a return was close to the end of the season, so his offseason training shouldn’t be impacted too much. Steven Stamkos also recently rebounded well from a similar meniscus surgery.
Chris Kreider had a strange combination of a rib resection surgery as well as a blood clot in his bicep. Hopefully neither becomes something that he has to deal with long term. Though the fact that he returned for the last 21 games of the season provides some optimism for his continued health.
Ondrej Palat – Tampa Bay Lightning
Current Cap Hit: $5,300,000 (UFA, July 2022)
Last summer when Palat signed his current contract, we discussed here that the $5.3 million price tag was a fair mark for a player who (at the time) was averaging 53.5 points per season. He was close to those marks again before a lower-body injury in January dropped his numbers. He finished the regular season on a bit of a lower note, in addition to falling rates for his shots and hits totals.
However, there is reason for optimism here. Palat seems to be fully healthy now, and has performed very well in the playoffs. His shot and hit totals are back in line with his career averages (if not a little higher), and his scoring has seen a nice little bump as well. Considering the depth of the Tampa Bay Lightning offence, and taking into account that Palat is viewed as one of their most reliable defensive forwards, his offensive ceiling may be a little limited. That being said it seems like a fully healthy, 53-point Palat can be expected to show up again in 2018-19.
Recent Capped articles:
That caps off another Thursday.
If you want to talk hockey, salary caps, or anything even remotely related, you can find me on twitter any day of the week @alexdmaclean
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