Capped: Pending RFA/UFA players needing to re-establish value
With Phase Two underway, it's tough not to be hopeful that we really will see hockey again at some point this summer. That means we get play-in games, and then the playoffs. As a result, there aren't really too many salary cap points to discuss around the remaining portions of the 2019-2020 season. However, that doesn't mean the games played this summer won't have far reaching impacts on cap leagues for next year and beyond.
Jared McCann was discussed in the Ramblings on Tuesday, and Michael Clifford mentioned that keeping an eye on his post-season deployment could foreshadow either a stall or a step forward offensively in the 2020-2021 season. McCann is a great example of the kind of player that could see his stock rise in these expanded playoffs, just in time for a big pay-day. I will certainly be paying close attention to him as I own him in two cap leagues.
Below we'll go through a few other bigger names who are looking to shore up their track record just in time to negotiate a new contract this summer.
Braden Holtby (G) – Washington Capitals
Expiring Cap Hit: $6,100,000
We're starting off with the big fish of the goalie market, though Holtby's numbers from this summer don't exactly give that indication. This is Holtby's first regular season with a GAA over three, or a save percentage below .900%. A strong set of games from Holtby through at least the play-in round, and he could save some value. However, if he doesn't manage to prop up his disappointing numbers to this point, he may end up doing what Robin Lehner has for the past few years and taking a one-year deal at a cheaper cost to try and land a better contract the subsequent summer. Holtby owners should be in wait-and-see mode, as he could end up taking a bargain contract this summer.
Tyson Barrie (D) – Toronto Maple Leafs
Expiring Cap Hit: $5,500,000
Perhaps no player has hurt his earning potential as much as Tyson Barrie based on play from this past season. The Leafs are only paying half of his salary, and at times it has seemed that he hasn't even been worth that. Before this season, Barrie could have had a case to be paid upwards of $8 million per year, however at this point he may be looking at a short-term deal worth half of that.
Barrie still put up numbers, as he was just one shy of the 40-point mark when the season ended, though it wasn't at his usual prolific rate, especially without the power-play production. Despite seeing over 2:30 per game on the powerplay, his scoring stats with the man advantage were halved from last year. He also looked out of sorts on the defensive end of the puck, grading out just above an even shot share rate despite starting almost 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
With a break to reset, and having had some time to settle into Toronto, perhaps Tyson Barrie can show that this was all a blip and that he is still worth the big bucks. A few points wouldn't hurt his case, but even just some confident play at both ends of the ice will do wonders for his stock in free agency. Barrie's next contract may not fluctuate too wildly as he plays a very sought-after position, but there still could be a few million on the table that he is playing for this summer.
Expiring Cap Hits: $5,750,000 & $4,250,000
If anyone's stock has fallen as far as Barrie's, it might be Mikael Granlund. The Finish forward has put up less than a point every two games since landing on the Predators at the trade deadline in 2019, and hasn't even had any real hot streaks to rekindle a little spark of hope. The Predators as a whole disappointed this past regular season, and Craig Smith was a part of that too. Both wingers look likely to test the free-agent market, and doing so after helping their team win a few playoff rounds would paint a much brighter picture than the one hanging over them now.
Both are in need of showcasing that they haven't turned a bad corner in their careers, and they have the offensive support around them in the lineup to produce. Either one could be a huge help to the scoring depth on lots of teams, they just haven't fit in well in Nashville. Keep an eye on both of them as they may end up being some of the better bargain free agents from this summer's crop since they don't play a premier position and could get squeezed as a result. Add in the possible stagnation of the cap and it looks like a perfect recipe for a short 'prove-it' deal before testing the market again in another year or two,
Max Domi (C/LW) – Montreal Canadiens
Expiring Cap Hit: $3,150,000
We'll finish this article on the other end of the Pittsburgh/Montreal first round from where we started. Montreal is definitely the underdog coming into the series, however it seems that Carey Price has firmly lodged himself in the head of many an NHL player, and he could sway the series to a tipping point all by himself. Even with a goalie shutting the door though, to pull off the upset the Habs will need someone to come up clutch and score a few goals. How about their best forward who put up 72 points last season? That sounds plausible.
After posting his career high of 72 points last year, Domi followed it up with a disappointing 44 points in 71 games this season. He is an RFA at season's end, and suddenly has a chance to prove himself in the playoffs for the first time. Adding a clutch playoff performance to his resume should certainly buy him a few more dollars – maybe an extra million or two – on what would have already been a solid slice of the Canadiens' payroll.
Stay safe everyone, and if you have any article topics you are hoping to read about, give me a shout! You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean for questions, comments, or article requests.
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