Capped: Projecting Player Salaries – Part 5

by Alexander MacLean on February 1, 2018
  • Capped
  • Capped: Projecting Player Salaries – Part 5

 

This week's Capped finishes our series looking into how to project player salaries, with a few goalie projections.

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As outlined last week, I don’t yet have a working model for goaltenders, but I’m using the articles from this week and last to start off the thought process behind that section of the project. And because it didn’t seem fitting to finish off the projection series without a few goalie numbers, we’re going to go through a handful of goalie contract predictions based on some of the theories from last week. Enjoy.

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Robin Lehner (Age as of July 2018 – 26) – Buffalo Sabres

Expiring Cap Hit: $4,000,000

Projected Cap Hit: $4,500,000

Projected Number of Years: Four

Robin Lehner has had some ups and downs as a starter in the NHL over the last few seasons. Whether he moves on to greener pastures, or tries to anchor a Buffalo Sabres team that is green itself, he should be in line to continue receiving a majority of the available starts. For that reason, he will continue to be paid as a starter, albeit a lower end one. As a result, Lehner will be looking to use this contract as a bridge to his peak years, opening up the avenue to sign a big deal at the age of 30. His stats should improve a little over the next few seasons too, either moving on to a better team, or through the internal growth of the Sabres.

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Petr Mrazek (26) – Detroit Red Wings

Expiring Cap Hit: $4,000,000

Projected Cap Hit: $3,500,000

Projected Number of Years: Three

Petr Mrazek is the same age as Lehner, and coming off a contract with the same cap hit. The similarities end there though, as Mrazek has battled with Jimmy Howard over the last few years just to see playing time. Mrazek is still viewed as having a higher upside, and will likely be transitioning into more of a starter’s role this coming year. Whether the Red Wings part ways with Howard or Mrazek, one will likely be on the move, and this could see Mrazek platooning as a worst-case scenario. As a result, a slightly shorter contract on a slightly smaller deal is probably what we can expect.

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Cam Ward (34) – Carolina Hurricanes

Expiring Cap Hit: $3,300,000

Projected Cap Hit: $4,500,000

Projected Number of Years: Two

Cam Ward seemed to peak as a rookie, winning the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. Since then, he has kept owners waiting for that same dominance, and it has never come. Last season, Scott Darling was brought in, given a bigger contract, and the assumption was that Ward would be phased out. Except Ward is having the better season. Darling’s extreme struggles are masking the fact that Ward hasn’t looked great either, and are actually buoying the perception of Ward. As a result, with Ward maybe looking at his last decent contract, we should see a bit of a cost increase with a shorter term. A two-year, $9 million contract would provide a good match with a team looking for a stopgap goaltender.

 

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Connor Hellebuyck (25) – Winnipeg Jets

Expiring Cap Hit: $2,250,000

Projected Cap Hit: $6,500,000

Projected Number of Years: Six

Hellebuyck has broken out, and he is here to stay. There shouldn’t be much debate about this. He is a great talent, he has a solid team in front of him, and even still has room to grow. He signed a perfect one-year deal last season, and used it to prove himself for a long-term contract this time around. I would expect a six- or seven-year deal for a bit above $6 million. Think along the lines of the Frederik Andersen contract, but with a higher salary cap, and thus a slightly bigger pay-day. This will take him right to the age of 31 for another big contract.

 

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Antti Raanta (29) – Arizona Coyotes

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,000,000

Projected Cap Hit: $3,750,000

Projected Number of Years: Two

With a .924 save percentage (Sv%) and 2.16 goals against average (GAA) over the last month, Antti Raanta is proving that he is adjusting to the starter’s role well. His full-season numbers may leave a little to be desired, but it is tough to expect much more from an Arizona netminder. At 29 years of age, Raanta should be looking for a bridge deal to springboard him to his full time, long-term starter contract. Give him two years at the Matt Murray bridge deal price, and he should get there.

 

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Carter Hutton (32) – St. Louis Blues

Expiring Cap Hit: $1,125,000

Projected Cap Hit: $2,500,000

Projected Number of Years: Three

Carter Hutton has spent the last month and a half doing his best to ensure that this is not the year without a goaltending controversy of some sort in St. Louis. Since December 30th, Hutton has started nine of a possible 11 games, and has a sparkling 1.81 GAA and .938 Sv%. Incumbent starter Jake Allen will wrestle the job back at some point, but Hutton has proved he can be more than just an average backup. He is too old to really warrant a big starter’s deal, but as a result of his recent play, he should be looking at a contract similar to what Mike Condon received last year from Ottawa.

 

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Juuse Saros (23) – Nashville Predators

Expiring Cap Hit: $692,500

Projected Cap Hit: $2,350,000

Projected Number of Years: Three

Like Hutton, Saros has also proven he is more than just your average backup. At only 23 years of age, however, Saros projects to be an NHL starter for many years. With current Predators’ starter Pekka Rinne seeing his contract expire in July of 2019, it would make sense for both Saros and the Predators to have an extra year past 2019, meaning something like a $2.5 million, two-year deal. This is David Poile we’re talking about in negotiations here, so we’ll make the deal a little more team friendly: $2.35 million and three years.

 

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Aaron Dell (29) – San Jose Sharks

Expiring Cap Hit: $625,000

Projected Cap Hit: $4,100,000

Projected Number of Years: Two

Here we have another top tier backup, but unlike the others, Dell may be moving on to a different role as soon as next season. Dell is looked upon by many as the most starter-ready backup around. Being an unrestricted free-agent this summer means that Dell can take his fortune into his own hands, and try to find a starter’s role. There won’t be many holes to fill, but if he can find a starter’s role, or at minimum a plateau option like Scott Darling landed last summer, then we will see starter’s money (or Darling level money on a deal to take Dell to the age of 31).

 

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Tristan Jarry (23) – Pittsburgh Penguins

Expiring Cap Hit: $630,833

Projected Cap Hit: $1,250,000

Projected Number of Years: Three

Tristan Jarry has shown well, with only a few hiccups in his limited action this season. That being said, he is nowhere close to supplanting Matt Murray as the starter in Pittsburgh. As a result, a nice little raise up to double what he has been making this season should keep Jarry happy with his backup duty for the next few years. Maybe at the age of 26 Jarry will be ready shoulder more of a starter’s workload (and contract), but for now he is firmly entrenched as a backup (a high upside one behind an injury-prone starter though).

 

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Jonathan Bernier (29) – Colorado Avalanche

Expiring Cap Hit: $2,750,000

Projected Cap Hit: $3,300,000

Projected Number of Years: Two

Do the Colorado Avalanche go on their 10-game win streak without Jonathan Bernier? We may not have an answer, but we do know Bernier is getting himself stuck somewhere between a good backup and a starter that can’t carry a team for a full season. He does seem to be finding his game of late though, so a short deal at a little over $3 million would allow Bernier to showcase himself for another two years, and really play himself into another shot at starter money later on.

 

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That caps off another Thursday. I got a little carried away, and it turned out to be two hands full, but a good exercise nonetheless. Hopefully that helps you look into planning your goaltending for next season. If you have any thoughts/opinions on goalie contracts, I would love to hear them in the comments.  

 

As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean where I post some of my other smaller musings that don’t make it into the articles.