Frozen Tools Forensics: Impending contract years, part 2

by Grant Campbell on August 23, 2019

 

In part two of our look at impending UFAs, we are reviewing our next batch of players who could potentially put up some pretty good numbers this season. They could potentially be motivated to do more than they otherwise might if their contracts weren’t on the line.

You can read part one here

 

Justin Schultz

I think we can only expect Schultz to play about 60 games next season and anything more is just gravy. He has always struggled defensively overall but has offset that with the ability to be a PP quarterback. Going into his contract year, he will need to stay healthy and put up at least 0.50 PTS/G in order to sign for similar money to what he makes now. He has a modified no-trade clause which allows him to submit 10 teams he will not be traded to.

Pittsburgh is in a tough situation, because their two top PP defencemen are both a little injury prone and both shoot right. The Penguins don’t have another player like Schultz other than Kris Letang, on their roster or in their system, so I would assume they would try to re-sign Schultz for less than his current contract. I would put Schultz at five or six goals and 25-35 assists over 60 games for next year.

 

Torey Krug

Krug is going to get paid big money before or on July 1st, 2020. Even though he missed 18 games last season due to injury, he still managed 53 points (a 68-point pace over 82 games) with a career high of 30 on the PP. Boston had the 3rd overall PP in the NHL in 2018-2019, and it would make sense that as long as Krug is healthy he will slot in ahead of Charlie McAvoy on the top unit.

Krug is a heavily sheltered defenceman who has averaged above 65 percent over the past two seasons in offensive zone starts. Krug shines in the playoffs, with 11 goals and 35 assists in 62 career games, and 27 of those points on the PP. I think it is a no-brainer for Boston to re-sign him as he has been a very consistent point-producer over his whole career, never getting less than 39 points. I have more faith in Krug than McAvoy when it comes to producing on the PP. I would peg Krug for 8-10 goals and 45-50 assists next year.

 

Robin Lehner

Lehner has signed three one-year deals in a row, and his latest with Chicago is the highest salary he has had yet at $5 million AAV. It’s a bit of a curious signing in Chicago as they already have incumbent starter Corey Crawford (on an expiring contract in 2020) and one would have to think this will be a 1A and 1B situation for either goalie. The first thing Lehner will miss is being on a team coached by Barry Trotz; it will be highly unlikely Lehner will duplicate or better his save percentage of 93.0 from last year.

He is only 28 years old and if he can put together a season above 91.5 save percentage and keep his quality starts above 50 percent, he might find himself the goalie in Chicago for three or four more years.

 

Mike Hoffman

After four full seasons of not quite reaching 30 goals and having a career high of 60 points, Hoffman burst out for 36 goals and 70 points in his first year in Florida. Playing over 64 percent of the time on the 2nd overall PP in the NHL certainly helped Hoffman get 17 PPG and 35 points on the PP. His even-strength points were at 35 for an uncanny third season in a row. There is no reason to think that Hoffman won’t be capable of putting up the same type of numbers this season as last.

Florida should be able to afford to re-sign him going forward if his demands are reasonable, but they have such good value deals ($5.9 million AAV) on both Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau that it will be difficult to maintain locker room harmony if they give Hoffman the $7 or 8 million he would get on the open market. Having said that, Florida did just sign Sergei Bobrovsky to a $70 million deal over seven years.

 

Jared Spurgeon

Spurgeon is one of those players you look at over their career and ask yourself, “When did he do all that?” He hasn’t had less than nine goals in his past five seasons and had a career high of 14 goals and 43 points last season. He has an uncharacteristically consistent high shooting percentage for a defenceman at 6.9 percent or higher over his past five seasons.

He is a player that Vancouver fans hope Troy Stecher emulates as they are both undersized defencemen, but Spurgeon found an offensive component to his game that Stecher has yet to find. The bad news is that Matt Dumba, if healthy, will diminish Spurgeon’s output slightly and if the Wild slip in the standings they might look to get value for a player like Spurgeon rather than re-sign. I would still lock in Spurgeon in for his nine goals and 25-30 assists next year regardless.

 

Brayden Schenn

Schenn was on pace for 62 points last season but missed 10 games because of injury and finished with 54. He was solid but was kept in check during the playoffs with only 12 points in 26 games. He has lost some time on the PP1 last season, averaging only 50.3 percent compared to 62.7 the prior year (when he put up a career high 70 points).

A former 5th overall pick in 2009, Schenn can serve as a cautionary tale for those who write off high draft picks by the age of 22. His career looked to be floundering after 2012-2013, finishing a less than impressive season split between the AHL and the NHL. He has since had six fairly consistent years, hoisted the Stanley Cup last year, and should be a 60-point player for a few more years at the very least.

 

Alex Galchenyuk

Galchenyuk has either underachieved in the past three seasons, or the expectations for points were always too high. Whatever the case, he has his best opportunity to break through in his 8th NHL season and his first in Pittsburgh. He will get a chance to play with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, and any player needs to take advantage of that if given the opportunity. Two teams have tried him at center now and both experiments failed, so I’m sure he will play on the wing for the most part next season unless an injury forces him into the center role again.

As for Galchenyuk next season, he will be one of the youngest UFAs (if he remains unsigned) at 26 years old. If he improves his production at even strength to around 40 points, there is no reason that he can’t get to the 60-point mark. Realistically, I would put him at 20 goals and 30 assists and hope he exceeds my expectations.

 

Next week we will have part three of this look at impending UFAs.

Thanks for reading and please follow me on Twitter @gampbler15.