What a first round that was. Lots of great hockey, shots, saves, hits, storylines, the past two weeks have had it all. The best part, is that we still have another three rounds to go!
On the flip side, there were eight teams eliminated by the end of the first round, so we’re going to comb through those squads and see what effect their playoff performances may have had on a future contract or two.
Certain players have made a career off of performing in the playoffs. Most recently, Bryan Bickell, Joel Ward, and Justin Williams come to mind as players that were relatively insignificant in the regular season, yet when the playoffs rolled around, they were a key part of at least one cup run. Each of the aforementioned wingers parlayed their strong playoff performance into a large contract that didn’t age well. Let’s make sure you don’t go making the same mistake.
Petr Mrazek – Philadelphia Flyers
Current Cap Hit: $4,000,000 (Expires as an RFA)
Mrazek was yet another piece of the goaltending carousel that is the Philadelphia Flyers. He was not the saviour they needed, and he was not the saviour they deserved. He didn’t even start a game come playoff time. His lone appearance saw him yield two goals on 14 shots in 30 minutes of ice time. Not exactly a performance that is going to net him a big new contract. He had a chance to throw his hat in the ring as a potential starter for Philadelphia once October rolled around, however he won’t get the contract to get much of a look for it now. He basically tossed his hat into a volcano instead.
Verdict: Will likely get a smaller short-term deal to play backup somewhere, could provide decent value in that role.
Boone Jenner – Columbus Blue Jackets
Current Cap Hit: $2,900,000 (Expires as an RFA)
Jenner has performed fairly well in playoff situations over the last few years, regardless of the league. His three points in Columbus’ six game series against the Capitals continues that script. He certainly can’t be blamed solely for the lack of success seen in the last four games of the series. Jenner pumped a minimum of three shots on net each game, average three hits per contest, and should continue his success next season with (likely) returning line mates Nick Foligno and Oliver Bjorkstrand.
Verdict: Will parlay his continued production into a continually growing contract. After a short bridge deal, Jenner will likely get a longer contract, and be paid handsomely to eat up a few UFA years. A very good multi-cat player, and a younger version of his line mate Foligno.
Patrick Maroon – New Jersey Devils
Current Cap Hit: $2,000,000 (Expires as a UFA)
Maroon tickled the twine only once in New Jersey’s five game series against Tampa Bay, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. The power-winger amassed 16 shots, saw over 18 minutes on the powerplay, and spent a lot of his time parked in front of Lighting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Alas, sometimes it is not to be, and since Maroon was dealt from the Oilers (and away from Connor McDavid), he has not nearly matched his scoring rate from a year ago. Maroon will go into free-agency as a depth winger, since he hasn’t consistently shown himself to be anything more, especially in the playoffs.
Verdict: Someone may overpay a little, but he reminds me a little of David Clarkson. Don’t heighten your expectations on the bigger, net-front type of wingers, especially when they are expecting a raise.
Leo Komarov – Toronto Maple Leafs
Current Cap Hit: $2,950,000 (Expires as a UFA)
Komarov has a career stat line reading one point in 15 playoff games. Add that to the fact that the Leafs had a better record without him in the lineup against Boston, and the writing is on the wall for the Russian winger. He was said to be healthy enough to play in game seven, however coach Babcock didn’t see him as a better option than Andreas Johnsson. Komarov plays a more in-your-face style of game, and doesn’t have the speed, nor the hockey sense to keep up on a top line in today’s NHL. His short first two games in the playoffs this year are a prime example. His stock fell mightily in the postseason.
Verdict: Well, there’s always next year. Komarov likely signs a one-year deal as a depth forward outside of Toronto. Anything more and you start to wonder whose embarrassing photos he is waving around.
Andrew Hammond – Colorado Avalanche
Current Cap Hit: $1,350,000 (Expires as a UFA)
After playing in a combined seven regular season NHL games over the last two years, Hammond got the call to start game five of the Avalanche’s playoff series against the Predators. He was a large part of the victory in that game, stopping 44 of 45 shots. He then made 32 saves in game six, although Colorado was ultimately overwhelmed by a deeper opponent. Hammond’s opportunity to be thrust back into the spotlight could not have come at a better time. Being a free-agent this summer, the last few games of exposure may yet win him a new contract.
Verdict: After toiling in the minors the last few years and becoming a bit of a fading memory, Hammond may have revived his career, and could have some upside as a second or third string goalie next year on a cheap contract.
Jason Zucker – Minnesota Wild
Current Cap Hit: $2,000,000 (Expires as an RFA)
Zucker excelled this season as part of the secondary scoring wave with the Minnesota Wild. That secondary scoring completely dried up in the playoffs though, as Zucker was held pointless in the series against the Jets. The Wild winger has largely underwhelmed in the playoffs thus far in his career, however so too have all of the Minnesota teams he has been a part of. Since he doesn’t necessarily stick out as an anchor to the team, his playoff numbers shouldn’t drag down his salary too much for next season.
Verdict: Expect another steady progression in the pay for Zucker to match his increasing production. These playoffs won’t drag down the price tag.
Tobias Rieder = – Los Angeles Kings
Current Cap Hit: $2,225,000 (Expires as an RFA)
Rieder was a huge disappointment this year, both for Arizona and Los Angeles. This continued on into the playoffs, where Rieder managed only seven shots (no points) in the four-game smothering by Vegas. He played on the third line of a top-heavy Kings team, which really didn’t set him up for success. Then again, good players make their own chances, and having watched all four games of the series, Rieder was close to invisible.
Verdict: The playoffs did not do Rieder any favours for his new contract, but then again neither did the regular season. He will continue to be a cheap depth option. Don’t expect much more than we have seen out of him already.
Brandon Montour – Anaheim Ducks
Current Cap Hit: $925,000 (Expires as an RFA)
Montour was a big part of the Ducks trying to cover up the loss of Cam Fowler. He can’t yet fill that hole, but Montour did all he could. With 14 shots, six hits, seven blocks, and over 25 minutes of ice time per game, Montour looked every bit the player that Anaheim expected when they chose to keep him and ship Shea Theodore to Vegas instead. He has a bright future, and the future starts in the fall.
Verdict: This postseason has proved Montour doesn’t need a bridge deal. He has earned a sizeable contract already. Be ready for him to get paid.
On a more somber note, I wanted to wish the families & friends of the victims of the Toronto tragedy peace and solace after the 10 lives were lost on Monday. I grew up just a few minutes away from the Yonge and Finch intersection, so this hits very close to home for me. As with the Humboldt bus crash, Canada has shown it can come together in tough times. Our thoughts are with you all. Toronto Strong.
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That caps off another Thursday, and cheers to the second round!
If you want to talk hockey, salary caps, or anything even remotely related, you can find me on twitter any day of the week @alexdmaclean
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