Capped: Reviewing the Free Agent Frenzy
This week's Capped recaps everything you didn’t know you needed to know about free-agent frenzy.
As of now, more money has been spent on new contracts in the week since July first than you could spend in a lifetime. This is before Erik Karlsson gets traded and then signs an eight-year deal with an AAV of $11-12 million. But since the trade has yet to come to pass, we have plenty to talk about after July 1st, so let’s get to it.
All salary info from capfriendly.
We’re going to quickly recap the same list of 10 skaters that we covered last week to see whether things went according to plan, and what it means moving forward.
John Tavares – Toronto Maple Leafs
New Cap Hit: $11,00,000 (Seven Years)
We all know he signed in Toronto and they’re going to win the cup the next seven years, right? And Tavares is going to win an Art Ross trophy to put on the shelf above his Maple Leafs’ bedsheets? Now you’re all tired of reading about him because he’ll be worth the $11 million? Got it. Moving on.
James van Riemsdyk – Philadelphia Flyers
New Cap Hit: $7,000,000 (Five Years)
The projection model hit the term and the money almost right on the head. Philadelphia was a bit of a surprise team to jump out and snag van Riemsdyk however, but it just means they’re a year early in their Wayne Simmonds succession plan. This gives them options for spreading talent across multiple lines, and offers some depth for when Philly decides to trade for another stop-gap goalie after Brian Elliott and Michael Neuvirth can’t quite cut it. For van Reimsdyk himself, expect similar production from the past few years. Tough to pay $7 million for, but at least you know what you’re getting.
Paul Stastny – Vegas Golden Knights
New Cap Hit: $6,500,000 (Three Years)
Stastny took less of a pay-cut than expected, however he sacrificed term to do so, signing a shorter three-year deal. He capitalized on the rising salary cap, as well as a lackluster market for centres. He is still going to be a tough own at this salary, but Vegas was a good landing spot for his offensive ceiling.
James Neal – Calgary Flames
New Cap Hit: $5,750,000 (Five Years)
Neal got a nice little raise, but actually isn’t as massively overpaid as was expected. His value in Calgary though will be fully tied to Johnny Gaudreau. Neal is unlikely to see much time with anyone on the 3M line, so it’s either top line or bust. If new acquisition Elias Lindholm steals the top line RW slot, then Neal gets pushed down to play with some underwhelming depth players. A bit of a wildcard at this point in time.
Mike Green – Detroit Red Wings
New Cap Hit: $5,375,000 (Two Years)
The reason Mike Green wasn’t traded away from the Red Wings as a rental last February was an in-season injury. Nothing wrong with bringing him back and trying again to trade him to a contender this year, right? Well, maybe, except the Red Wings are still paying him too much, gave him an extra year, and for no good reason, handed out a no-trade clause on top of that. Green probably wasn’t useful in cap leagues last year, and may not be again, even after this contract expires.
Tyler Bozak – St. Louis Blues
New Cap Hit: $5,00,000 (Three Years)
Bozak signing in St. Louis is a nice fit, as they have wingers aplenty, and we have seen in the past that Bozak can do well with a limited role and skilled wingers. He was bumped down the depth chart later on July 1st as Ryan O’Reilly was acquired, but we still know about what we’re getting in Bozak. Expect his stats to be fairly similar in St. Louis to what they were in Toronto.
Most Likely Destinations: Columbus, Pittsburgh, Boston
Projected New Cap Hit: $3,400,000 (Three Years)
Nash has yet to sign, and it may be a while yet before we hear anything close to a decision. He is currently weighing his options, and considering retirement due to previous concussion issues.
David Perron – St. Louis Blues
New Cap Hit: $4,000,000 (Four Years)
Perron took a nice $4 million to come back to St. Louis, moving to a familiar situation, and once again lining up as depth scoring on a contender. If Perron can replicate anything close to what he did with Vegas last year, then he becomes a cap-league bargain. Beware the injuries, shooting percentage, and possible lack of PP time in St. Louis however.
Jack Johnson – Pittsburgh Penguins
New Cap Hit: $3,250,000 (Five(!) Years)
Just because Pittsburgh’s weak spot is on defence doesn’t mean they had to be nice to the rest of the league and make it even worse. This new contract to Johnson is going to hurt right away for the Penguins, and unfortunately for them, he’s on the books until 2023. Stay far away.
Carter Hutton – Buffalo Sabres
New Cap Hit: $2,750,000 (Three Years)
Pretty close for a prediction done without a prediction model. Hutton got his contract to allow him a little bit of leeway holding down a crease while a youngster grows behind him. However, being paid less than $3 million means he can easily be pushed aside once Linus Ullmark (or another prospect goalie) is ready to take over. Definitely closer to the bottom than the top of the list of starters around the NHL.
Here’s this week’s bonus round with some quick hits on other fantasy relevant UFAs, signed or unsigned:
Patrick Maroon – unsigned:
Still unsigned, and if it wasn’t for the Islanders, it may be possible to say that teams are just moving away from paying big body players in free-agency. He will get a contract soon enough, but his peak fantasy value is behind him.
John Moore (BOS) – $2.75 million for five years:
The only defenceman that could have challenged Mike Green for best available on July first. Green won this time, taking home almost double what Moore will be making next season. Moore has some value as a depth defenceman in Boston, especially at under $3 million. With almost any defenceman that can stand in front of a shot instantly making $4 million or more, getting some peripheral stats for less is not a bad way to fill out the roster.
Anthony Duclair – unsigned:
The 22-year-old broke out in his second season after being traded to Arizona. Since then, it has been all downhill, partially due to unsustainable percentages, but also due to lower time-on-ice and power-play deployment. That being said, there were signs of life this year, even though his luck metrics were low. If a team in need of offence comes calling, such as Dallas, Vancouver, or New Jersey, then Duclair could be a veritable bargain on a show-me contract for next season. Perhaps the ultimate buy-low at this point in time.
Cody Franson – unsigned:
This is the annual plea for NHL GMs to realize that he is a very serviceable depth defenceman. If he gets signed to another one-year, $1 million deal like he did last summer, jump on it, as it’s a bargain for deeper leagues.
Tomas Hertl (SJ) – $5.625 million for four years:
The only RFA covered this week, Hertl signed before many of his contractual compatriots because San Jose missed out on Tavares, and didn’t want to lose anyone else. As a result, Hertl received a slight bit more than expected, but it certainly is a contract he will grow into over the next four years. Depending on your league setup, this contract should generally be tolerable in fantasy, with the Czech forward primed to take another step… well, forward.
Petr Mrazek (CAR) – $1.5 million for one year:
One of my favourite signings from the free agency period, Carolina let Cam Ward walk, and signed a better and younger goalie at half the cost, without a need to add on any kind of no trade clause. Mrazek slides in as the 1B option should Scott Darling falter again this season. Darling’s contract will ensure he keeps getting starts, but Mrazek’s chances of stealing 50 starts on an up-and-coming Hurricanes team is much higher than his salary would indicate. One of the better low-cost gambles you will be able to find in net this year.
Recent Capped articles:
That caps off another Thursday.
Follow me on twitter @alexdmaclean and you can find any further cap thoughts I have as signings are announced throughout the offseason.
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