Another day, another contract or two…
John Gibson has signed an eight-year contract extension with the Ducks worth $51.2 million. Although Gibson is just 25 years old, he has already established himself as a reliable NHL netminder when he has stayed healthy.
Gibson played in a career-high 60 games last season, while his .926 SV% was the fourth-highest among goalies who played at least 40 games. I believe it was Mike Clifford who first brought this up, but Gibson’s save percentage while killing penalties was an incredible .916. That is a good six points higher than the next-highest goalie who played at least 25 games (Carter Hutton) and nine points higher than the next-highest goalie who played at least 40 games (Semyon Varlamov). The Ducks’ core might be getting older and they might be a bubble playoff team at this point, but they should be solid in goal for the next little while.
William Karlsson and the Vegas Golden Knights avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year contract worth $5.25 million. This is the best scenario for all involved, as Wild Bill clearly deserved a raise from the $1 million he made last season. At the same time, do we really know how valuable Karlsson is? After all, he jumped from being a 20-25 point checker to a nearly 80-point top liner. The 2018-19 season will give us a better idea of who William Karlsson really is.
There are those who will believe that Karlsson should have gotten paid more… or that other players should have gotten paid less…
I know that he simply didn’t slow down all season – not even in the playoffs. Yet Karlsson finished the season with an amazing 23.4 percent shooting accuracy, a number that was matched only by Alexander Kerfoot (who scored 19 goals in spite of taking just 81 shots). In the playoffs that dipped to 14 percent, but he managed to score seven goals in 20 games because he took 2.5 shots per game (50 shots), an increase from the 2.25 shots per game he averaged during the regular season. So if Karlsson is to equal his 2017-18 production, he must shoot more.
Some shooters have a consistently high shooting percentage, which is their normal. Yet Karlsson’s previous shooting percentage was around the 6-8 percent mark when he suited up for both Columbus and Anaheim. I’d be willing to raise that shooting accuracy projection a few more points now that he’s getting better scoring opportunities on the top line. But we have to plan for some regression here. 40 goals again? Don’t count on it. 30 goals might be a more realistic projection. But he is a top liner with a strong team now and should be treated as such.
From The Athletic (behind the paywall): Artemi Panarin would seriously consider a return to the Blackhawks. Although the Blackhawks are known to have cap issues, a Panarin return just might work, with hypothetical cap numbers provided. Remember that the Blue Jackets are not dealing at a position of strength here, since Panarin is on the final year of his contract and it doesn’t sound like he is willing to re-sign with Columbus. But you know that the Hawks would like to have a redo on that Panarin for Brandon Saad (among other pieces) trade.
At what point do we pull the plug on the thought that Gustav Nyquist will return to his near 30-goal seasons of a few years ago? Back in the 2013-14 season, there was no hotter goal scorer than Nyquist during Feburary and March, as his run of 17 goals over 21 games had everyone rushing to the waiver wire thinking that he could be the next Red Wings’ superstar.
Nyquist’s point totals have dipped over the past three seasons, all the way down to 40 points in 2017-18. One plus side, though, is that he returned to the 20-goal mark. That was aided by Nyquist shooting the puck more often than he has at any point in his career, taking a career-high 213 shots on goal. So there’s that.
But if Nyquist still can’t make the most of his power-play time, he may find himself off the top unit. Only Henrik Zetterberg had more power-play time than Nyquist last season, yet Nyquist recorded only eight points on the power play. This is a trend that has gone on for two seasons now. Nyquist was third on the Wings in power-play time in 2016-17, yet he also failed to reach double digits in power-play points. The problem is that the Wings don’t have a ton of options that excelled on the power play. Zetterberg was the only Wings’ forward that had more than 12 power-play points, and we’re not 100 percent sure if he’s going to be ready to go this coming season. So Nyquist might just stay right where he is.
A leftover from Bubble Keeper Week:
I’ve mentioned how important shot totals are for both Karlsson and Nyquist. It should go without saying that they’re important for every player, including Sonny Milano. They might be the reason that his NHL career hasn’t gotten off the ground. In 55 games last season, Milano took just 69 shots on goal. That’s barely over a shot per game. He may have even been lucky to score as many goals as he did (14), as his shooting percentage calculated out to about 20 percent.
Milano’s 2017-18 NHL proportion of goals to assists (14g-8a) look nothing like his career totals in other leagues, where he resembles more of a playmaker (HockeyDB). That should be somewhat surprising, as his most frequent linemate was Oliver Bjorkstrand, a player with some offensive upside. Bringing in Riley Nash could help the former first-round pick, as this could provide the Jackets with a solid third line.
For now, though, I’d prefer to take a wait-and-see approach with Milano. He just finished his first full NHL season, yet the talented Milano isn’t likely on my sleeper radar yet.
After three nights in a row of Ramblings, it's time for a short summer holiday. Talk to you next weekend.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.