In looking more at my player salary projections, there are a lot of players that the numbers make sense for, at least when I think about why they come out as they do. In some cases, the numbers force me to re-evaluate my pre-conceived notions on a player or situation, which is one of the main points of an exercise like this. However, in any system like this, there are going to be some players that just don’t really fit the mold for one reason or another, and those are the ones I want to walk through today.

 

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Erik Gustafsson (D) – Chicago Blackhawks  

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,200,000

Projected Cap Hit: $6,790,000

 

Why I think my model is close:

Defencemen seem to get paid, especially when that defenceman is one of the best on the team. Coming off a 60-point season, a lot was expected of Gustafsson. Unfortunately, he has not been able to match last season’s success to this point. His game is growing, and a sophomore slump shouldn’t be ignored by fantasy owners. Thinking this kind of production is a new norm for him would be foolish, as there is still a lot of growth left for the 27-year old who is just breaking into the league.

 

Why I think my model is way off:

The Blackhawks have $71 million committed for next season, but only 14 players under contract, and none of those are goalies. If the Blackhawks want to re-sign their upcoming unrestricted-free-agent, then they will have to make some room to do so or get him to take less than anyone would expect – and sometimes that’s what happens with bridge deals.

 

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Taylor Hall (LW) – Arizona Coyotes

Expiring Cap Hit: $6,000,000

Projected Cap Hit: $7,455,000

 

Why I think my model is close:

For a player that missed mover half the season last year and is on a 67-point pace thus far in the current year, a long-term deal at $7.5 million per season would be excellent for the player. Hall seems to be comfortable on and off the ice, while playing on a team that is in contention for the Stanley Cup.  

 

Why I think my model is way off:

Artemi Panarin was the marquee forward from last year’s free agent crop, and he landed a contract paying him 50% more than what is estimated for Hall here. Someone will offer Hall a yearly salary of eight digits, it just depends on him seeking out the best deal for himself.

 

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Ilya Mikheyev (RW) – Toronto Maple Leafs  

Expiring Cap Hit: $925,000

Projected Cap Hit: $700,000

 

Why I think my model is close:

Generally, for a 25-year-old winger who has played less than half of a season in the NHL, a league minimum contract would make sense. That is about all there is going for this one though.

 

Why I think my model is way off:

The model doesn’t account for the fact that Mikheyev came over from Russia, and was just getting his first opportunity in the NHL. Not to mention that occasionally he looked like one of the Leafs’ best forwards, displaying speed, awareness, and an understanding of the game that is uncommon in a rookie. His unfortunate injury is going to keep his games played down, which won’t help his case in the system. It is likely that he gets one more shorter-term contract before landing a big one, or takes a discount in exchange for the security of a long-term deal. Either way, his cost should be depressed for at least next year.

 

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Kevin Labanc (LW) – San Jose Sharks

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,000,000

Projected Cap Hit: $5,869,000

 

Why I think my model is close:

When Labanc signed his current contract, everyone was saying that he took this deal with a future signed contract tucked away and ready for once the season was over. The next contract, being one loaded up as a result of a previous discussion, would see a similar cap hit to that of teammate Timo Meier, but for a longer term.

 

Why I think my model is way off:

All Labanc has done this season in disappoint. With 25 points in 48 games, he is at minimum 10 points shy of where he was expected to be at this point in the season, and the coach has called him out on it too (which is saying something considering how bad the rest of the team has been). If we were just looking at the first half of this season, Labanc may have cut his earnings for next year in half.

 

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Kevin Shattenkirk (D) – Tampa Bay Lightning

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,750,000

Projected Cap Hit: $5,497,000

 

Why I think my model is close:

Kevin Shattenkirk seems to be able to play himself into big contracts, and after taking a hometown discount the last time he was a highly sought-after free-agent, he won’t be doing so again as the Rangers won’t want him back. As a result, the then-31-year-old will be hitting the open market on the heels of a season in which he is playing excellent hockey overall, and in on pace to surpass the 40-point mark.

 

Why I think my model is way off:

Shattenkirk was bought out last summer, and he is going to be in his 30s for the entire duration of whatever contract he signs next. Surely GMs have some sense?

Additionally, it seems as though Shattenkirk has been an excellent fit in Tampa, and is still being paid out quite a bit by the Rangers, so money may not be everything, and he would be in a position to take quite the discount to move forward in the right situation. 

 

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Mikael Granlund (RW) – Nashville Predators

Expiring Cap Hit: $5,750,000

Projected Cap Hit: $5,261,000

 

Why I think my model is close:

Star forwards like Granlund don’t just lose their talent all of a sudden. Nashville has not been a fit for him, and a one or two-year deal at close to his current cost would allow him to find a better fit for him, and hit the market again soon while he still has some prime years left.

 

Why I think my model is way off:

This one could be off in either direction really, and I am clueless as to what may actually happen. His numbers and overall play say that he deserves to have his pay cut in half, but his resume and the price surges of the open market could have a team fall in love with the potential. The market is also barren for star forwards this year aside from Taylor Hall, so there will be a lot of teams left wanting after he signs.

 

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Erik Haula (C) – Carolina Hurricanes

Expiring Cap Hit: $2,750,000

Projected Cap Hit: $1,308,000

 

Why I think my model is close:

Haula just can’t stay healthy, and it’s tough to want to pay a player what they’re worth, when half the season they aren’t able to provide anything for your team. His injuries aren’t just common, the type of injuries are concerning. With his history over the last few seasons, it seems as though he has a couple of lower-body issues that are one wrong turn from flaring up again. The middle class in the NHL is also seeing their prices cut, and Haula could be a part of that.

 

Why I think my model is way off:

When Haula is on the ice, he is someone that can fill in as a solid second-line centre on many teams, and thrive with the right group of wingers. At the point of writing, he has 19 points in 27 games, which is a 60-point full-season pace. This is without steadily being in the lineup, and having no exposure to the top wingers. Teams value centres, and Haula deserves to see his contract almost double from this year. 

 

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All salary info courtesy of capfriendly, statistics are all pulled from FrozenTools.

If you have questions, comments, or article requests, you can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.

 

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Previous Capped articles:

World Junior Performers

New Year Fantasy Hockey Resolutions