Capped: Players who saw value drops in the Return To Play
It's Thursday again, that means it's time to read some weekly thoughts on players, their salaries, and whatever else crosses my mind. Let's get to it.
The bubble presents a weird in-between season. Do we call this a separate season of development for the youngsters that are getting closer to a breakout? Should the 2019-2020 season be looked at as one whole, or for the players who saw their stock change drastically, does this second part outweigh the play that we saw at the beginning of their contract year? My answer is that it depends on the situation. Let's take a look at a few of those that have disappointed in the bubble play thus far because most of them have gone home – that means when we tackle the over-achievers next week, we get a few more games to go off of for them.
Taylor Hall (LW) – Arizona Coyotes (UFA)
Projected Cap Hit: $9,260,564
Cap League Rank: 96
Care to take a guess how many games Taylor Hall has played in the playoffs in his career? Fifty-eight. Now, if you don't count the 44 OHL games, then it's really just 14 career playoff games, nine of which came this summer. In those nine games this summer he only put up six points, however he was held off the scoresheet in six of those nine games. In the five games against an actual playoff team (the Colorado Avalanche) Hall was on the scoresheet in only one game. For a player that is about to net the highest cap hit this summer, that is simply not good enough. Granted, it is a small sample size, and Hall has shown that when he is healthy in the regular season, he can be a difference maker. The problem is, that Hall wants to go to a team with cup aspirations, and his lack of production in the post-season is going to hurt his case a little. He's still going to be paid well, but the dreams of an eight-figure cap hit are likely dead.
On a side note, Hall played for McDavid for a half a season, past that, who was the best linemate he has had beside him? Through his 10-year career I can't name another superstar he has played with. To the hockey gods, let him sign somewhere that he can complement a superstar so we can see the real talent Hall possesses before it's too late.
The Pittsburgh Penguins:
Surprisingly it wasn't the goalies that disappointed here. Aside from one game by Matt Murray, the tandem of him and Tristan Jarry held the Penguins in games as well as they could. Unfortunately, it was the skater core that couldn't score, and the depth provided no help. With new contracts due to Conor Sheary (UFA), Jared McCann (RFA), and Justin Schultz (UFA), the acquisition of Kasperi Kapanen shows that there will be some turnover. Sheary continued right where he left off in the regular season, scoring a point every second game for the Penguins. However, he didn't do enough in the bubble play to keep a top-six spot and that is the only way he could stay fantasy relevant on the Penguins. He has some scoring upside, but his salary demands in the offseason will be low, and he will have to luck into an ideal situation to boost his value back up. The Kings or the Devils are probably the best landing spots for him.
As for McCann and Schultz, both should be back with the Penguins, Schultz due to familiarity and his ability to take a pay cut, while McCann's RFA status means a move is unlikely. Neither performed up to expectations in the bubble with two points in seven combined games. Schultz especially drew the ire of management – when it is said in your last games before free agency that you were worse than Jack Johnson, the next contract won't be pretty.
The Nashville Predators:
I covered the two main Predators free agents a few weeks ago, and here's what I had to say then.
"In my article a few weeks ago I touched on some free agents that had to show up in the playoffs to regain their value for contract negotiations. Three of those players are already out after disappointing showings. Craig Smith might be back with Nashville at a discount (or the same AAV as his last contract). Tyson Barrie won’t receive the $8 million AAV he was looking for last summer, but being a right-handed defenceman he should have some bidders that keep his price tag from dropping too much. The third player that struggled is Mikael Granlund, and he is a real wildcard. Having played centre and wing, while pacing for 70-point seasons twice in his prime, the former Predators and Wild forward desperately needs a change of scenery."
They combined for a putrid one point in eight games, and both are currently projected to earn less than they did last season. The Predators don't necessarily have any other relevant free agents, however they could make one. There have been rumblings of a Kyle Turris buyout, as it is one of the worst contracts in hockey right now – he's ironically ranked 666 in my cap league rankings. Turris hitting the free agent market would be a bold move for David Poile, but he has never shied away from those. Turris went pointless in the bubble, and should he be bought out, his new projected salary would be just over $3 million. By the numbers, that makes some sense. However, if we factor in the perception around his play right now in addition to the fact he would be getting paid from the bought-out contract, and his next contract is lined up to dip significantly lower than that.
The Calgary Flames:
The Flames bowed out early again this year, and changes are expected to be coming hard and fast. With five UFAs on the blueline, changes won't be tough to manage. Expect at least three of TJ Brodie, Derek Forbot, Michael Stone, and Travis Hamonic to depart, with Erik Gustafsson seeming to be the lone defenceman that has a better than 50/50 shot of staying on. Gustafsson shows at a projected $3.5 million right now, which is a disappointment for him after his 60-point season the year prior. Perhaps a longer-term deal can give him the comfort to get going again. Either way, he has the upside to out-perform any contract he could realistically sign this offseason.
In net, odds are that the Flames will turn back to the devil they know in Cam Talbot on a mid-range deal. He disappointed, but not quite enough for him to have his name crossed off their wish list. Meanwhile the forwards are just about all accounted for except for the pointless performance of Mark Jankowski. Not only did Jankowski double his pointless streak in the playoffs this year (from five career games without a point to 10) but he also went down under nine minutes per game in the playoffs. Certainly not a performance worthy of a new contract that is going to break the bank. He's projected for a small raise to $2.0 million, and even that feels like a little much.
If you have any article topics for me to look into, give me a shout! You can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean for questions, comments, or article requests.
And stay safe!
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