The Five Best Contracts in the NHL

In the recent history of the NHL, there have been a lot of bad contracts, mainly in free agency. Dave Bolland makes 5.5 million per year and David Clarkson got a contract that had him at a 5.25 million cap hit for seven years. But, amidst all that, there have been some great contracts, but they mostly come from re-signings. It seems like the general managers have learned from their mistakes this summer however, because all contracts given out have been very modest. Either way, these five players should probably find new agents.

5. Ryan McDonagh 

Team: New York Rangers

Cap hit: 4.7 million per year 

Term remaining: 4 more years 

Players with similar cap hits: Bryan Little, Niklas Kronwall, Carl Soderberg

McDonagh is the captain and lead defenseman of the Rangers, but makes only 4.7 million per year. He’s a great all around defenseman, tallying 136 points in 317 games. This past season, he had 33 points in 71 games. For the role he plays on the Rangers, it’s a great deal in anyone’s mind. 

4. Max Pacioretty 

Team: Montreal Canadiens

Cap hit: 4.5 million per year

Term remaining: 4 more years

Players with similar cap hits: RJ Umberger, Brad Marchand, Teddy Purcell, David Backes

It’s hard to find a team’s leading sniper making under 5 million per year, but Pacioretty is an example of that. Pacioretty has had over 35 goals in the past two seasons, and would have hit it at his pace in the lockout shortened season. Pacioretty has 280 points in 399 career games, and he continues to be Montreal’s leading offensive force today. 

3. Victor Hedman

Team: Tampa Bay Lightning

Cap hit: 4 million per year

Term remaining: 2 more years

Players with similar cap hits: Jake Gardiner, Alec Martinez, Ales Hemsky, Dennis Seidenberg

Victor Hedman solidified himself as an elite defenseman in this league, if he wasn’t already, in this year’s playoffs. The second overall pick in 2009, Hedman is just about a .50 point per game player in his career. He had 38 points this year, and 55 last year (he also played 16 less games this year). He had 14 points in 26 playoff games this season, leading Tampa Bay to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2004. Like many others, he would’ve been my Conn Smythe vote if Tampa had taken the series. 

2. John Tavares

Team: New York Islanders

Cap hit: 5.5 million per year 

Term remaining: 3 more years 

Players with similar cap hits: Dave Bolland, Nick Foligno, Matt Carle, Blake Wheeler

It’s hard to believe an elite forward in today’s NHL makes less than 6 million, but it’s true. Tavares has been a Hart Trophy nominee in two of the last three seasons, and has lead the Islanders to the playoffs in those two years as well. He lost the Art Ross this year to Jamie Benn in the last 30 seconds of the season, but still had a tremendous season with 86 points in 82 games. The #1 overall pick in 2009 had 400 career points in 432 games. 

1. Duncan Keith 

Team: Chicago Blackhawks

Cap hit: 5.5 million per year

Term remaining: 8 more years

Players with similar cap hits: James Wisniewski, Brooks Orpik, Jarome Iginla, Marc Staal

Yes, that says EIGHT more years. The 2015 Conn Smythe winner is a bright spot in the cap hell that is Chicago. Keith’s contract is undoubtedly the best in the league, as arguably the best defenseman in this league is making under 6 million. In eight more years, we’ll probably see elite defensemen like him making over double of his contract. To compare, PK Subban make 9 million and Ryan Suter makes 7.5 million. Keith’s stats back up his play, as he had 45 points this year and 61 last year. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

How Every Team Faired in Day One of NHL Free Agency

Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks were mainly quiet on Day 1, only signing Shawn Horcoff to a one year deal. He’ll replace Nate Thompson while he’s injured. They also lost a solid part of their defensive core in Francois Beachemin

Arizona Coyotes: The Coyotes mainly made an effort to reach the cap floor, which they came close to doing. They brought back Antoine Vermette and Zybnek Michalek. They also signed Steve Downie and Anders Lindback for one year, and Brad Richardson for three. 

Boston Bruins: The Bruins signed Matt Beleskey for a reasonable 3.8 million per year contract. They also traded Reilly Smith & Marc Savard’s contract in exchange for big winger Jimmy Hayes. 

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres stayed quiet, but they did their work at the draft mainly. They’ll still look to add another left handed defenseman. 

Calgary Flames: The Flames continued their tornado path through the offseason and signed utility forward Michael Frolik for five years. They also re-signed reliable goalie Karri Ramo for one year. 

Carolina Hurricanes: Outside of buying out Semin, Ron Francis was quiet. They’ll be near the bottom of the league next season. 

Chicago Blackhawks: The cap limited them, and they still have work to do as they have just about 600k to re-sign Marcus Kruger with. Losing Saad and Richards will be a huge blow, but Panarin and Dano will ease that. 

Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic capped off a solid week by signing two free agents, Francois Beauchemin and Blake Comeau. Both are very good players and Colorado will be ready for a rebound year. 
Columbus Blue Jackets: Their big move was trading for Brandon Saad, and they’ll work hard to re-sign him now. They also added grinder Greg Campbell. 
Dallas Stars: Although they appeared to have done nothing, their biggest move was just a day prior to free agency. They signed Antti Niemi for three years, solidifying their goalie situation. 

Detroit Red Wings: Ken Holland had himself a day, signing Mike Green and Brad Richards to deals. The Green one is great, adding to the already prolific powerplay Detroit has. The term for Green is big too, as it’s only three years. 

 Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers continued their great offseason, signing Andrej Sekera to a long term deal, coupled with Mark Letestu. They also traded Boyd Gordon for Lauri Korpikoski. 

Florida Panthers: The Panthers kept quiet, but added Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes which was a solid acquisition. The assuming of Marc Savard’s contract was questionable however. 
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings are another team that kept quiet, outside of signing Jhonas Enroth to back-up Quick. 
Minnesota Wild: Fletcher kept quiet but re-signed Mikael Granlund to a new contract. 

Montreal Canadiens: The Habs tried to court in Beleskey and Williams but failed. However, they were able to unload Prust and get a younger, better player in Zack Kassian. 

Nashville Predators: Nashville had a solid day but not a big one. They re-signed Mike Ribeiro, and also added Max Reinhart, Barrett Jackman, and Cody Hodgson. 

New Jersey Devils: They took a run at some forwards (like Beleskey) but failed. They added John Moore for three years on a friendly deal which was good. 

New York Islanders: Snow kept quiet but added a backup goalie in Thomas Greiss, the teams biggest need. 

New York Rangers: Sather stepped down as general manager and appointed Jeff Gorton, and the team signed Diaz and Stalberg to small deals. 

Ottawa Senators: After re-signing their restricted free agents, Murray didn’t do much. He signed Zack Stortini for whatever reason, though 

Philadelphia Flyers: Hextall kept the ball rolling and brought in solid backup Michal Neuvirth. He’s also working on an extension with Michael Del Zotto. 

Pittsburgh Penguins: They didn’t do anything in free agency, but they traded for this guy named Phil Kessel. No explanation needed. 

San Jose Sharks: They signed Paul Martin to a four year deal. They also locked up Brendan Dillon for five years. 

St. Louis Blues: They were quiet beside re-signing Jori Lehtera for three years. Expect them to be active on the trade market. 

Tampa Bay Lightning: Yzerman only signed Erik Condra, but that’s all he really needed. 

Toronto Maple Leafs: Admist the Kessel traded, they signed Marc Arcobello, PA Parenteau, and Daniel Winnik. They’re going into full Matthews-mode. 

Vancouver Canucks: Outside of the Kassian/Prust trade, Benning did nothing. They’ll still pursue another defenseman, but not for over 5 million. 

Washington Capitals: They signed Justin Williams into the wee hours of the night. Maybe he’s what they need to bypass the Rangers in the playoffs. 

Winnipeg Jets: They lost Frolik which hurts, but brought back Alex Burmistrov from the KHL. They’ll try to play him, and if it doesn’t work they’ll try to trade him. 

It was an exciting day one of free agency, let’s see what the rest of the offseason has in store. 

-Kevin @TheNHLFiles

Both Edmonton and New York Won the Reinhart TradeĀ 

There’s been a lot of debate over the trade that the Islanders and Oilers made on Friday night. The deal sent former Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart to Edmonton in exchange for the 16th and 33rd overall picks. The trade is in question mainly because of Griffin’s draft pedigree, as he was taken 4th overall in 2012. 

This deal is a good one for both teams. From the Islanders perspective, they get a lot of value out of a depleting prospect that did not impress them or the fans. Many felt Barzal was a top-ten pick in the draft, and the Islanders’ head scout Trent Klatt viewed him as on of the best overall talents in the draft, much like many other respected members of the hockey community did. That makes the deal sweet on its own, but adding the 33rd was the finishing touch. Snow used that 33rd overall to trade up to 28th overall, where he selected Anthony Beauvillier. 

The Islanders assessed their needs and acted upon it on this deal. Their forward prospect farm was growing smaller after the graduation of Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson. They also have a plentiful amount of defensemen, including three locked up long term (Boychuk, Leddy, Hamonic) and one not going anywhere (Calvin de Haan). Along with that, Ryan Pulock is set to make the jump to the NHL next season after surpassing Reinhart on the depth chart. Scott Mayfield impressed during the playoffs, bringing the big physical asset that the Islanders were hoping Reinhart would bring, but never did. 

The Oilers got a good deal out of this, too. The already stud filled offense needed no more prospects, especially after adding Connor McDavid, so it was wise to trade the picks. They added a defenseman that they can use next year, even if he may not appear ready (which he didn’t look so in his time with the Islanders). Defense is Edmonton’s biggest, most glaring need, and Reinhart still has the potential to become a solid, second pairing shutdown guy for them. Defensemen, especially big ones, need more time to develop and Reinhart could break out under the right coach with more playing time and a more familiar city. 

Let’s review…

New York’s perspective:

-Added more forward prospects & a top-10 talent in Barzal

-Opened the door for Pulock and Mayfield

-Used some of their defensive prospects to their advantage

Edmonton’s perspective:

-Added a right-side playing defenseman 

-Sacrificed picks that would be used on offensive prospects for immediate help

Unless either Mathew Barzal or Griffin Reinhart turn out to be a true bust, I don’t think either team will be losing any sleep over this deal. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Frolik Generating Tons of Interest

Among forwards, Michael Frolik from the Winnipeg Jets has been garnering some of the most interest heading into the free agency period. 
The 27 year old forward is about to enter his 8th NHL season after being drafted 10th overall by Florida in 2006. It is believed that Frolik and his agent met with over 10 teams down in Florida over draft day weekend. He is seeking a deal up to five seasons long and will likely get in the 5 to 6 million range. 

Frolik is not a dominant forward, but a good middle six guy for any team that struggles with offense. Frolik had 19 goals and 42 points in 82 games with Winnipeg last year. He’s a versatile forward, having played in 163 out of 164 possible games over the past two seasons. 

Frolik has developed a strong two way game and also kills penalties very well. Whichever team gets him will be very lucky, even if it’s an overpayment due to a weak free agent class. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trades Highlight Day Two of 2015 NHL Draft

Although nothing will out-do the hours leading up to the draft yesterday, day two was no bust on the trade front. The GMs worked tirelessly to improve their teams whilst trying to find gems in the later round of the draft. Day two saw the trade of Cam Talbot finally, but still no Patrick Sharp or Phil Kessel. 

The Carolina Hurricanes made some of the biggest rifts of all the teams. They acquired Eddie Lack for picks, as well as James Wisniewski from Anaheim in exchange for Anton Khudobin. Lack will likely be the starter in Carolina, and Wiz adds to their severely lacking defensive core. Ron Francis did a tremendous job today. 

Another active member of the general manager regime was Glen Sather. Sather traded both Talbot and Hagelin in separate deals. Talbot went to Edmonton in exchange for picks #57, #79 and #184. The initial asking price was a first round pick, and Sather was even offered to seconds (believed to be Calgary before they traded for Hamilton). Sather waited too long and did not get good value out of this. 

Sather also traded Carl Hagelin, or at least his RFA rights. Hagelin obviously did not fit into the Rangers’ plan long term money wise, so he was dealt out west to Anaheim. Hagelin will do well in the much more open ended Western Conference style of play, even if checking is more evident. Great pickup by Bob Murray, even at the cost of Emerson Etem plus picks which is good for the Rangers. 

Anti Niemi’s rights were also dealt to Dallas for a 7th round pick. Niemi will go 1A/1B with Lehtonen, who wasn’t good last year at all. With one or two more solid defenders, Dallas will be scary again next season. 

Two trades also went down after the draft ended between Arizona and Philly & the Rangers and Chicago. 

Arizona needed contacts to get to the cap floor and they did exactly that. They acquired Nick Grossman along with Chris Pronger’s contract in exchange for Sam Gagner and a conditional pick going back to Philly. Arizona gains upwards to 8 million in cap space in the deal to get to the floor, whereas Philadelphia sheds two nasty contracts. Reports indicate that Sam Gagner may be bought out by Philadelphia. 

The last trade that went down was a minor one between Chicago and New York. Chicago traded Antti Raanta to the Rangers in exchange for forward Ryan Haggerty. Raanta will be used in case Skapski isn’t ready, and was traded due to his fallout in Chicago after Scott Darling’s emergence. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Winners and Losers of Day One of the 2015 NHL Draft

It was an exciting first day of the 2015 NHL Draft, one of the most exciting in years. It saw played such as Robin Lehner, Dougie Hamilton, and Milan Lucic traded before the draft even started, and a bunch of other deals during the draft. Some deals left us scratching our heads, but others were great and out of the blue for teams. Here are our winners and losers of day one. 

Winner: Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers didn’t make any player moves, but had a very solid draft in Round 1. They got Ivan Provorov at #7, and some people consider him to be the best defenseman in the draft, even over Noah Hanifin. Provorov adds to the already impressive defensive core for the future in Philly with Hagg, Morin, Gostisbehere, and Sanheim.

The Flyers also traded up to #24 from Toronto and selected Travis Konecny. Konecny was projected to go in the 13-20 range at the draft, but slipped into Philadelphia’s hands. Konecny is an explosive forward known for his hands and skill and will fit in nicely behind Claude Giroux in the future. 

Winner: New York Islanders

They came in with no first or second round picks, but Garth Snow made a splash. After seeing Mathew Barzal was there at #16, Snow decided to trade former first round pick Griffin Reinhart for that pick and #33. Reinhart never found his place with the team, looked totally lost when he was up with them, and fell behind Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield in the depth chart. Barzal is a solid two-way forward that many people had going in the top-10. 

Snow wasn’t done there, either. He used his own pick at #72 and #33 acquired from Edmonton to move back into the first round. He sent those picks to Tampa Bay in exchange for the 28th, where he selected Anthony Beauvillier. The speedy forward is a great all around addition, with scoring, penalty killing, and everything in between. If he can bulk up, he’ll be a great addition for the Islanders. 

Winner: Calgary Flames 

The Flames started off draft day with a bang, trading for Dougie Hamilton, a top pairing defenseman. He was an RFA and unlikely to be signed by Boston, so instead of letting him sign an offer sheet, Hamilton was traded for a first and two seconds, a very small price for Calgary. 

Beyond that, the Flames were quiet, which is okay. They gave up a lot of their picks for Hamilton which was worth it, and I don’t think they have any regrets. 

Loser: Boston Bruins 

The Bruins faithful was rattled after trading Dougie Hamilton for peanuts, but they should be happy about what they got in return for Milan Lucic. However, what they did with the 13th, 14th, and 15th picks were mind boggling. 

The Bruins picked up Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn with their picks. Zboril is big, bruising defenseman with a good shot was a decent choice. DeBrusk and Senshyn are both forwards, but both nowhere near the best players available, especially Senyshyn. That’s a situation where you trade down and add some more picks. Big loss for the Bruins. 

Loser: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins didn’t have a first round pick this year and didn’t do anything to help their cause on top of that. Their pick belonged to the Oilers as part of the Perron trade and wound up in the hands of the rival Islanders. They failed to complete their wish of getting back into Round 1 and didn’t pick up a single forward that they were rumored to be chasing. They still seem active at the end of day two, but day one was a failure for Jim Rutherford. 

Loser: Chicago Blackhawks

With all the rumors surrounding them after their Stanley Cup championship, the Chicago Blackhawks wound up as losers on Day 1. They failed to trade Patrick Sharp for a first or second round pick, and didn’t unload Bickell’s or Versteeg’s contracts either. They’ll have to hustle to get something done in the upcoming days, but it was a bad day for Stan Bowman. 

More to come on the draft soon.

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Big Name Players Set to Be Moved at the Draft

This draft is regarded as the best draft since the Sidney Crosby one back in 2005, for right reason. The depth of this year is great, and it is all capped off by two generational talents in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. We know McDavid is going to be an Oiler and Eichel is going to be a Sabre, but what is unclear right now is what shuffling is going to take place in between all of the selections. Not only are the prospects spectacular in this draft, the possibility for big name players to be moved is very high. As of less than 48 hours before draft time, no general managers have dipped their toes in the trade water yet, but we should have an exciting next few days. 

Phil Kessel is arguably the biggest name out there. His cap hit of 8 million for seven more years will scare off a lot of teams, not helped by the fact that he has a no-trade clause and can pick where he wants to go. The price would be astronomical, and would also require a first round pick going back to Toronto. 

Prediction (if a trade happens): Kessel to Florida

Milan Lucic is another name floating around. The big bodied winger has one year left on his deal at a 6 million dollar cap hit. Lucic is coming off a 44 point season, his worst in a full season since 2009-2010. His discipline and anger raises some eyebrows, as he also hit 81 penalty minutes last year and has surpassed 100 penalty minutes three times in his career. 

Prediction (if a trade happens): No trade, stays in Boston

Patrick Sharp will be on the move, mostly because of Chicago’s cap crunch. He struggled in the later portions of the playoffs, but had 43 points in 68 regular season games this year. He’s toppled 25 goals six times, most recently in 2013-2014. Sharp’s trade value may diminish due to the cap situation in Chicago, but he should still fetch a hefty return. 

 Prediction (if a trade happens): Sharp to Washington or Dallas

Kyle Okposo’s name has started being thrown out there recently, but a trade still seems unlikely. Garth Snow, as exhibited last offseason, is not afraid to get aggressive and Okposo is still being actively shopped. He carries a friendly 2.8 million cap hit for one more year. 

 Prediction (if a trade happens): No trade, stays in New York 

Cam Talbot is one of the most sought after goalies this offseason, if not the most sought after. He pieced together an impressive campaign after Henrik Lundqvist went down with a throat injury. The Rangers are believed to have shot down a proposal with two second round picks in exchange for Talbot. He’s proved he can handle himself under a strong defense, but what will he be able to do backstopping a team like Edmonton or Buffalo if he goes there?

Prediction (if a trade happens): Talbot to Calgary

Pierre LeBrun suggested the other day that Jeff Skinner’s name is being talked about. Skinner carried a 5.75 million cap hit for the next four seasons, but is coming off a struggling campaign. He’s had concussion issues in the past, but has played in 190 of the last 212 possible games he could have. He’s 23, and a great investment for any team. 

Prediction (if a trade happens): Skinner to Pittsburgh or Islanders

TJ ‘Sochi’ Oshie has been linked to trade rumors, mainly due to St. Louis’ playoff failures. Along with Patrick Berglund, he is being actively shopped. Oshie is vastly overrated due to the Olympic shootout, but is still a solid 50-60 point scorer. When put in the right situation, he will thrive. 

Prediction (if a trade happens): Oshie to Pittsburgh or Ottawa

Eddie Lack and Robin Lehner are also being shopped by the Canucks and Senators, respectively. They are both solid goalies caught in a three-goalie fold (Miller/Markstrom & Anderson/Hammond), and would be solid in a 1A/B situation, but that may not be the case. 

Prediction (if a trade happens): Lack to Buffalo; Lehner to San Jose

Lastly, Ryan O’Reilly’s name continues to be out there. The forward is reported to want 7.5 million per year on a max contact, which the Avalanche do not want to pay. The two-way forward has one year left on his deal and will attract big interest. 

Prediction (if a trade happens): O’Reilly to Calgary

This is just the surface. Plenty of more moves could be made, or maybe none at all will be made. All it takes is one move to spark the avalanche, and Patrick Sharp’s deal which seems imminent could do it. It’ll be an exciting weekend, or at least, a rumor filled weekend. 

Get ready. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Could Toronto Trade Down with New Jersey?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most heavily covered teams headed into this draft. They have multiple big names on the trade market, including Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. But, the Leafs first and smartest move could come via the trade board itself. 

The Leafs currently hold the 4th overall pick. The general consensus is that they will go with a forward like Dylan Strome or Mitch Marner, which is entirely possible, but the Leafs also have their eye on defenseman Ivan Provorov. 

Provorov appeared in 60 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL last season, tallying 15 goals and 61 points. Provorov has been highly scouted and thought highly of by Toronto personnel and executives around the league. Provorov is considered one of the best overall defensemen in this draft, behind Noah Hanifin. The Leafs, due to this, could swing a trade and acquire some additional pieces if they choose to go down the road of selecting Provorov. 

The Devils have the #6 pick. They are generally looking for offense, as they already have three solid defensive prospects in Eric Gelinas, Damon Severson and Jon Merrill. Matthew Barzal will certainly be there if they stay put, but they could move up to get an even better prospect, like Strome or Marner. 

The Devils don’t have an abundance of prospects, but are in need of one bonafide one. Strome lead the OHL in scoring last season with 129 points in 68 games. Marner had 126 in 63. Both players played in the OHL, whereas Barzal, who had 57 points in 44 games, played in the WHL. 

It could benefit both teams to make a trade. The Devils could give up #6 and an additional pick or prospect (like Matteau, maybe) and Toronto could give up #4. Toronto gets their guy, Provorov, and the Devils get a dynamic forward like Marner or Strome, more likely Marner due to Arizona’s heavy interest in Strome. 

If pulled off correctly, a move like this could work out for both franchises. The Leafs could easily get Provorov at their pick, but it’d be wise to move down if they truly do want him. The Shero era is also beginning in New Jersey, which means big changes are coming. 

Only 5 days until we find out how it all shakes down. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

What to Expect From Every NHL Team This Offseason

This offseason has the potential to be the biggest offseason in the NHL in quite some time. Names like Phil Kessel, Ryan O’Reilly, and Eric Staal are floating in the rumor spectrum. Here’s what each team has in store for the offseason:
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O’Reilly, Avalanche Face Tough Situation

Ryan O’Reilly is one of the biggest names floating around in the rumor spectrum this offseason. O’Reilly put up 55 points in 82 games this season, a drop from 64 points in 82 games the one prior. He signed a two-year, ten million contract as a restricted free agent with Calgary, but Colorado soon matched it. This is the final year on his current contract, and yet again conflict is arising with him. 
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Oilers Could Trade 16th Overall Pick

The Stanley Cup Finals are just about to begin, which means the draft is right under our noses. The Edmonton Oilers hold the first overall pick which will be used to select possible franchise center Connor McDavid, but they also hold the 16th overall pick, acquired from Pittsburgh in the David Perron trade. 
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Martin St. Louis’ Future

Martin St. Louis’ first full year in New York has come to a bitter end, leaving many fans desiring more out of the aging winger. He had an above average regular season with 21 goals and 52 points in 74 games, but failed to produce when it really mattered, the playoffs. After being a catalyst to the playoff run to the Finals last season, St. Louis only had one goal and 7 points in 19 playoff games this year. 
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