Free Agency 2022: Salary Projections for the Top-150 Free Agents

Alexander MacLean

2022-05-24

Typically, I have informally added my salary projections to the end of a Ramblings article, but this time I wanted to put them out as a separate page to keep it a little cleaner. I have been working on contract projections since the fall of 2017, and it has been a big help to my own planning in fantasy leagues, on top of just being a fun bit of data to use for other discussions and articles.

My projections are done as an algorithm that I have set up as part of my cap league skater and goalie rankings. It would be impossible to project the cap league values of these players without an input, and as a result I have gotten to the point of refining this system where the output does a respectable job of projecting the cap hit of a player on their next contract at any moment in time. I have not found it at all important to be able to project the term on these future contracts, as those are generally easier to foresee, in addition to them having a negligible impact on the future fantasy value of a player. As a result, I only show the projected cap hit below. If you take a look at a few of the players though, it's nearly a given that the contracts given to the higher profile players will be longer term, while the depth and fringe lineup players will be shorter. In the middle, the players in their late 20s and early 30s get the term, while the older and younger players have to settle for the shorter-term deals.

There are a few players in here where the projection looks a little high off the bat, including Jack Campbell, Valeri Nichushkin, and Tony DeAngelo. The system is completely numbers based, so the risk with goalies that have a shorter track record, or players that bring along off-ice baggage (hello DeAngelo and Evander Kane) are harder to quantify. Nichushkin's case is interesting though, as he's someone that really had to simmer, and took a long time to develop. His jump this season is greatly leaning on his increased ice time. What that means is that if he does end up signing a fat contract on his way out of Colorado, is that the production should be able to be maintained, as his other underlying numbers all look normal. The only red flag is that the 27-year-old has played six full seasons now and doesn't have a year with an IPP even close to the usual 70% metric that we like to see from players that can drive their own line. It does make me think that a team without a lot of depth will try to lure Nichushkin away to anchor their second line, and he will struggle to produce in that kind of environment.

One player that jumps out to me on the opposite end of the spectrum is Yakov Trenin. Trenin is the centre on the Herd Line for the Predators, and was one of their best players in the series against the Avalanche. Trenin is only projected for a new deal at just above $1 million, and despite David Poile having a track record of being able to sign his RFAs to bargain contracts, even that seems a little low for an established third line centre.

Two contracts signed recently that my algorithm had some issues with were the Mark Giordano and Bryan Rust contracts. Both took discounts to s