Let’s ease into this a bit.
What the hell is Marc Bergevin doing? The Habs’ GM has basically announced to the world that Max Pacioretty won’t be offered an extension and will be traded. This reeks of a whole, “You can’t quit, because you’re fired!” scenario.
Having this information be public doesn’t necessarily change the return on him because teams around the league knew he was available. Yet, it only furthers the public opinion that Bergevin is steering this historic ship into the rocks.
As I said, everyone and their dog knew that Patches was deep on the market. Rumours were swirling all over the draft landscape that a deal was set with LA. But an extension needed to be completed to solidify it. Word is that Max’s agent blew the extension, blew the deal and was subsequently sent packing by the player the following day. The Kings quickly went out and signed Ilya Kovalchuk.
It’s not a pretty situation in Montreal. And moving out what we can only assume is a disgruntled captain will be another blemish on the current regime’s resume. Don’t be shocked when the return is lukewarm.
From a fantasy perspective, Patches quality of teammates will almost assuredly improve. Heading into his age-30 campaign, there should still be a couple 30-plus goal seasons left in that twig.
Vegas extended Marc-Andre Fleury for three years at seven million per. The club just bought up his age 35-37 seasons as the new deal won’t kick in until 2019-20. This is a big paycheque for an ageing netminder with a career 0.913 save percentage in all situations. His 0.923 save percentage at even strength the last decade is fine but not otherworldly.
The Golden Knights success last season has placed them in a weird spot. They’re now forced to ride the wave and continue to go for a Cup in the immediate future. That's a risky spot for a team still trying to build its organizational depth chart (ie. stock the prospect cupboard).
There’s little reason to expect MAF to post anywhere near his career-high 0.927 mark he had from last season. If he can play at a 0.920-level, he'll be worth the money from a stability and marketing standpoint. However, this deal is rife with potential pitfalls.
Vegas basically broke every single rule when it comes to contracts with that Fleury deal.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) July 13, 2018
1. Paid for a career season
2. Took on risk by signing a year in advance but didn’t save any money on the AAV
3. Gave term to a player that’ll be 35(!) by the time it kicks in
This one could get stinky.
Sticking with goaltenders, Connor Hellebuyck’s new deal is very nice for Winnipeg. These are the type of contracts that need to happen when a team is building up for a string of deep runs. The Jets ended up buying three years of unrestricted free agency off the netminder while still getting a number below market value. Shrewd stuff.
This is a tremendous signing by Chevy and the gang. Bought UFA years and still got him undervalue. https://t.co/USxtEs0E7G— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) July 12, 2018
There are some who worry that the 25-year-old is more 2016-17 Hellebuyck than the Vezina-finalist we saw in 2017-18. However, taking in his entire developmental arc, it’s plain to see that he’s been ticking away at elite metrics for years.
Winnipeg clearly believes he can operate at or above the 0.930 save percentage at even-strength. That level represents the upper echelon of the position. However, making big dollars doesn’t always assure those results. Hellebuyck is now the seventh highest-paid netminder in the league. Here are the players around him and their average save percentage at five-on-five over the past three seasons:
Carey Price (10 million) – 0.927
Henrik Lundqvist (8.5 million) – 0.925
Sergei Bobrovsky (7.425 million) – 0.933
Tuuka Rask (7 million) – 0.923
Marc-Andre Fleury (7 million) – 0.927
Pekka Rinne (7 million) – 0.929
Connor Hellebuyck (6.167 million) – 0.927
Braden Holtby (6.1 million) – 0.928
Cory Schneider (6 million) – 0.923
Corey Crawford (6 million) – 0.932
Semyon Varlamov (5.9 million) – 0.923
Amongst those with at least 4000 minutes played, any guesses on who leads the pack over that period? Antti Raanta and his 0.934 save percentage. The Coyotes’ starter makes 4.25 million for the next three seasons.
The worst outcomes came from,
Cam Ward (3 million) 0.915
Chad Johnson (1.75 million) – 0.916
Scott Darling (4.15 million) – 0.917
Mike Condon (2.4 million) – 0.917
Martin Jones (5.75 million) – 0.919
Antti Niemi (950k) – 0.920
Craig Anderson (4.75 million) – 0.921
Jacob Markstrom (3.67 million) – 0.921
The moral of the story is that over a large period of time, there isn’t a great deal separating the truly elite goaltenders and those in the middle or bottom of the pack. You do get value from a player capable of making a difference in one game and a star crease-monkey can do that for you. Hellebuyck has that ability and poses a nice bet to produce a strong return on the investment for those in cap leagues and for the Jets.
Winnipeg now has Scheifele (6.125 million), Ehlers (6 million) and Hellebuyck (6.167 million) all locked up until at least 2023-24. Jacob Trouba needs a new RFA contract for next season while Patrik Laine (RFA), Kyle Connor (RFA) and Blake Wheeler are due for 2018-19.
The team will need a few more discounts to keep the band together. But Chevy is making great strides towards a core that will be tough to match for the next half a dozen years.
Here are some noteworthy Restricted Free Agents still looking for a contract:
*= No Arbitration Rights.
Brock Boeser is back terrorizing goaltenders, only this time it’s in Da Beauty League. The Canucks’ soon-to-be sophomore ended his tremendous rookie season with a nasty back injury. It had Vancouver fans cringing in disbelief. The sniping right-winger broke a bone at the base of his spine when he went awkwardly into the open bench door on a failed hit on Cal Clutterbuck.
The offseason has brought a full healing of the back and of a nagging wrist injury that he’s had since his days at the University of North Dakota. It sure looks like it’s feeling alright in early July.
The Minnesota-native tallied three goals in the game and has his sights squarely on a 40-goal campaign in 2018-19. He’s about to welcome Elias Pettersson to the opposite side on the Canucks’ top powerplay. Something that will cause fits for the opposition penalty killers. They won’t know who to play off of and that’ll result in a lot of cross-ice seams and pretty tallies.
Boeser is eligible for an extension right now. However, at the completion of 2018-19 he’ll be a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. The prudent thing would be to wait to see how he responds in year two before backing up the Brinks truck.
If the 21-year-old goes out and scores 40 goals, you pay him his eight million long-term and be happy about it. If he struggles to maintain such a pace, you get him on a cheaper bridge deal or lock him down at a lower cap hit.
My guess is we see the former scenario come to fruition. Few in the world possess a release like his. The scariest part is that it appears to get better with each passing day.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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