After the madness dies down from the first few days of July, there are bargains remaining to be found in the free-agent pile. Last year we saw names such as Patrick Maroon, Tyler Ennis, and Anthony Duclair, among others, signed after the big wave, providing some very valuable production versus their cap hit. This year, Ennis and Duclair were off the board early, while Stanley Cup Champion Maroon remains unsigned. Let’s find a home and discuss the potential value for Maroon and some other possible remaining bargains.
Patrick Maroon (LW)
Possible Fits: St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks,
Previous Cap Hit: $1,750,000
Patrick Maroon was in this situation last year, and ended up coming home to St. Louis on a bargain deal and winning a Stanley Cup. Perhaps he does the same thing, perhaps he moves on to another team gunning for a championship (with a hole for him in their bottom six) such as San Jose or Florida, or perhaps he rides off into the sunset with the Stanley cup win. Maroon has certainly earned the right to take his time and enjoy the summer, so we shouldn’t expect a speedy decision. If he does sign, he brings an immediate boost to your peripheral stats with 64 PIMs, 118 shots, and 135 hits.
Possible Fits: San Jose Sharks
Previous Cap Hit: $1,750,000 & $5,000,000 respectively
One of the worst kept secrets in the league is that both Marleau and Thornton want to keep playing in San Jose. There really isn’t another realistic option for either, and both will likely be signed to team friendly deals very soon. With Kevin Labanc’s contract sorted out, the two greybeards are now the only real remaining piece of business for the Sharks, who have just over $5 million in cap space to allocate between the two of them, and a 13th forward. Something along the lines of $1.5 million for Marleau, and $2.5 million for Thornton would both make sense, and provide good value for cap league owners next season.
Ryan Dzingel (LW)
Possible Fits: Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers
Previous Cap Hit: $1,800,000
The top remaining unsigned player (in terms of points last season), is projected for a big raise by my model. However, the longer into the summer he drags out a signing, the less money and the less term he is going to get. As a result, now would be the time to send out a feeler on him, to see if you can acquire him before he signs for less than his numbers say he is worth. As for the best landing spots, they would include competitive teams with holes in the top-six for Dzingel to slide onto a scoring line that he doesn’t need to carry.
Jake Gardiner (D)
Possible Fits: Toronto Maple Leafs (if they shed cap), Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres
Previous Cap Hit: $4,050,000
It’s tougher than it should be to find a spot for the top defenceman on the free-agent market. However, Jake Gardiner has apparently made it known that he would like to return to Toronto, and that could be what is really holding up his signing. If Toronto makes room for him (not likely), then there could be a fit, but if not, then he may not want to move too far away from his rooted family in Toronto. The Canadiens and Sabres then make the most sense, as they could both use help on the left side. Unfortunately for Gardiner’s fantasy value, is that all of these teams already have defencemen set on their top powerplay unit.
Signed after his blurb was written:
Michael Ferland (LW) – Vancouver Canucks
Cap Hit: $3,500,000 for four years
Ferland was finally snapped up, and looks to be going home to Western Canada (closer to home anyways – Saskatchewan). For fantasy owners, Ferland is an excellent producer, as he can rack up both points and peripherals, and looks to slot in on one of the top two lines in Vancouver. Should he end up on a line with Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, his production could spike. That would also likely push J.T. Miller to the second line, with Bo Horvat and a lot of defensive assignments. Keep an eye on that battle in camp.
Other quick hits:
-The Kevin Labanc deal is highway robbery for the San Jose Sharks.
-Calgary and Toronto would have the hardest decisions to make if the Seattle expansion draft was this summer (it’s not until 2021). Yes, I know it’s a little early to be looking.
-Another reminder, there is a very good possibility that we lose some or all of next season to a lockout. Plan your fantasy hockey championship windows accordingly.
–Alex Iafallo re-signed to an expected bridge deal. His production, however, will be tied to his spot in the lineup, as the accompanying talent drops off quite drastically.
You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.
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