Friday, July 21, 2017

Red Wings & Tatar Settle



The Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar did go through the arbitration hearing on Thursday, but before the ruling could drop, the two sides agreed on a new 4-year deal, reportedly worth $21.2 million.

Things were thought to be rather dicey between the team and player, leading up to the arbitration hearing, but getting a 4-year deal done, suggests that either those reports were severely overblown or they were able to mend their fence and get back onto better terms.

Last season, Tatar's season was good, but it certainly wasn't great.  He was a 25-goal scorer for the Red Wings, finishing with 46 points, playing in all 82 games.  That was good enough for 107th among all forwards in scoring.

Tatar's $5.3 million cap hit does put him among some other decent 25-goal scorers in the league, like Logan Couture ($6 million) and Brayden Schenn ($5.1 million), so it isn't an unreasonable deal for the Red Wings at the end of the day.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Henrik Zetterberg 6.083 Mike Green 6.000 Jimmy Howard 5.292
Tomas Tatar 5.300 Danny DeKeyser 5.000 Petr Mrazek 4.000
Frans Nielsen 5.250 Niklas Kronwall 4.750
Gustav Nyquist 4.750 Jonathan Ericsson 4.250
Justin Abdelkader 4.250 Trevor Daley 3.178
Johan Franzen 3.955 Xavier Ouellet 1.250
Darren Helm 3.850 Nick Jensen 0.813
Riley Sheahan 2.075
Luke Glendening 1.800
Dylan Larkin 0.925
Evgeny Svechnikov 0.863
Anthony Mantha 0.863
Eric Tangradi 0.650
Tyler Bertuzzi 0.645

With Johan Franzen on the shelf for what should be the rest of his contract, he will spend this season on the Long-Term Injured Reserve, which is the only way the Red Wings are going to fit Tatar's deal under the ceiling.  This 23-man roster, with Franzen in tow, is $3.81 million over the cap ceiling, so the Red Wings will have every intention of using Franzen's LTIR help for the better part of this season, one would have to believe.

It gets worse too... the team still has to re-sign Andreas Athanasiou, which won't come too cheaply.  There's a fine chance that the Red Wings may only be playing with 21 or 22 players on their active roster for the better part of the season, unless they are able to dump Franzen's deal on another NHL club.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 21)



The Calgary Flames got the deal done with their top pick in the 2017 entry draft, defenseman Juuso Valimaki on Friday afternoon.  The deal is now the 15th draft pick to put pen to paper on a 3-year entry-level deal and given that he's a 1st round pick, his salary will be at the maximum, $925,000, but bonuses won't nearly be as high as the top three picks.

Valimaki is considered to be more of an offensive defenseman, as he put up some great numbers with Tri-City in the WHL this past season, but there are a few questions about his overall mobility and hockey sense, but for how deep the Flames are on the blueline, there is certainly no rush to get him into their roster for a couple years, at least.  Getting the deal done this early means he is under their umbrella and an entry-level slide will get them an extra year.



Sens Re-Sign Dzingel



The trend of teams and players avoiding arbitration is certainly a positive one, especially for fan bases that don't want to see their favourite players grow sour with their team or vice versa.  The Ottawa Senators and forward Ryan Dzingel avoided that nasty hearing by signing a new 2-year deal on Friday, one that will pay $3.6 million in total.

The 25-year old emerged as a solid depth piece for the Senators in the 2017 season, playing in 81 games, scoring 14 goals and 32 points, good enough for 183rd among all forwards.  Dzingel found his way into some very big minutes for Ottawa down the stretch and was certainly a big part of the team's success, which took them to the Eastern Conference Finals.

This season, Dzingel will look to reaffirm his spot with the team in that third line role and if he and his linemates can repeat their 2017 campaign, if not improve upon it, the Senators should be in good shape once again, come April.

As for the hockey pool, I don't think that Dzingel is the kind of player that is absolutely going to light up the league, but he will be a very serviceable late round pick, as you try to find some solid points in the late rounds of the draft, assuming you've already found all your defensemen and goalies.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Bobby Ryan 7.250 Dion Phaneuf 7.000 Craig Anderson 4.200
Mike Hoffman 5.188 Erik Karlsson 6.500 Mike Condon 2.400
Derick Brassard 5.000 Cody Ceci 2.800 Andrew Hammond 1.350
Clarke MacArthur 4.650 Mark Borowiecki 1.100
Kyle Turris 3.500 Thomas Chabot 0.863
Mark Stone 3.500 Chris Wideman 0.800
Zack Smith 3.250 Fredrik Claesson 0.650
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 3.100
Alexandre Burrows 2.500
Ryan Dzingel 1.800
Nate Thompson 1.650
Tom Pyatt 1.100
Mike Blunden 0.738

The current projected 23-man roster is looking very cost efficient, as they are now through signing all of their key restricted free agents and unlikely to make any more big splashes in the free agent market.  They are showing still $4.1 million in cap space, so if they are a big time player at the trade deadline, they will be able to go out and take on a big rental, trying to lift them over the top.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Top Prospect Signing (Jul 20)



We can now check off the 10th overall pick in June's draft as being signed, as the Florida Panthers inked forward Owen Tippett to his entry-level deal on Wednesday, maxing out his salary and providing a bonus structure that could see him paid as much as $4.975 million, when it is all said and done.

The book on this kid is that he is a goal-scorer, considered to have one of the better shots in this draft class and he already has NHL-ready size, which may expedite his arrival into the big leagues, assuming he can sort out some of his short-comings, like his overall work ethic.

The Panthers have lots of bubble players on their roster that could go up or down at the start of the season, so there should be plenty of opportunity for a kid like Tippett to make the team out of camp, but that will be up to him.

Parayko & Blues Avoid Arbitration



The St. Louis Blues got the last major piece of business for the summer done on Thursday and they narrowly avoided the arbitration process to get it done.  Nevertheless, the Blues and defenseman Colton Parayko agreed to terms on a 5-year, $27.5 million deal, assuring that the 24-year old will be dressed in Blues colours for the foreseeable future.

The young defender stormed onto the scene in the 2016 season and followed it up with another strong campaign in the 2017 season, picking up 33 points in year one and 35 points year two.  He has ranked 42nd and 44th among defensemen in scoring, in those respective seasons, meaning that he is right in the thick of hockey pool activity at the draft.

Parayko saw his overall goal total go down between seasons, but his puck movement obviously made up for the increase of pressure on him at the point, as he isn't a well-kept secret anymore.  With a healthy group of forwards, plus the addition of Brayden Schenn in the off-season, the Blues do seem to be rounding out to be a solid team on paper, especially with this signing done.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Vladimir Tarasenko 7.500 Alex Pietrangelo 6.500 Jake Allen 4.350
Paul Stastny 7.000 Colton Parayko 5.500 Carter Hutton 1.145
Alexander Steen 5.750 Jay Bouwmeester 5.400
Jaden Schwartz 5.350 Carl Gunnarsson 2.900
Brayden Schenn 5.125 Robert Bortuzzo 1.150
Patrik Berglund 3.850 Joel Edmundson 1.050
Vladimir Sobotka 3.500 Jordan Schmaltz 0.925
Dmitrij Jaskin 1.000
Kyle Brodziak 0.950
Chris Thorburn 0.900
Robby Fabbri 0.894
Zach Sanford 0.875
Magnus Paajarvi 0.800
Ivan Barbashev 0.742

The projected roster of 23 players above is resting nicely, just underneath the salary cap ceiling, leaving about $1.8 million in space, give or take some roster adjustments.  The Blues have a couple more minor league restricted free agents left to tackle, but they shouldn't be too much trouble, now that the big fish is now under contract.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fringe Signings (Jul 18)

On Monday, the Nashville Predators re-signed one of their playoff heroes, forward Frederick Gaudreau, an AHL call-up that came into the lineup, when Ryan Johansen left with his injury in the series against the Ducks.  Gaudreau was a huge help down the middle, playing in eight playoff games and scoring 3 goals, including a couple of game-winners.

Gaudreau was rewarded with a 3-year, $2 million deal, which works out to be a $666,667 cap hit per season.  It's not exactly a huge deal, nor should we really consider him to be a lock for a lineup spot in the regular season, but he has undoubtedly earned himself a longer look at camp and there are a lot of bubble spots available on their roster, so pay close attention here.



Monday, July 17, 2017

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 17)



The top three picks are now firmly secured to contracts, as Monday morning saw the number two pick in June's entry draft, forward Nolan Patrick, sign his entry-level deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Patrick, for the longest time leading up to the draft, was thought to have had the 1st overall selection locked up, no matter who was selecting it, but injury problems forced him to miss the better part of the 2017 regular season with the Brandon Wheat Kings and his value slipped ever so slightly, seeing him drop to 2nd overall, much to the delight of the Flyers.

Patrick is believed to be NHL-ready and the Flyers have a number of forward spots thought to be open for discussion in training camp, so if Patrick is 100% and gets his chance to shine, there is thought to be a pretty good chance he'll be in the lineup for opening night.

If I am going into the hockey pool draft today, I am certainly giving Patrick better projections over Nico Hischier to start the season, as the talent on Philadelphia, at all skater positions, beats out that of New Jersey's, giving Patrick more players to play with for better results than the 1st overall selection today.

Pageau and Sens Avoid Arbitration



Avoiding arbitration is certainly one of the more positive things a team and a player can do, because it is known to be a very ugly process and could be taken the wrong way, if it isn't handled properly.  The Ottawa Senators and Jean-Gabriel Pageau did well to avoid this process, settling on Monday to a 3-year, $9.3 million deal, keeping the versatile forward happy at a rate that keeps the team in business as well.

Over the last couple of seasons, Pageau has really come into his own and has been a very important piece to the Senators' make-up as a very competitive, hard to play against team.  The 24-year old has been the team's most consistent player over those two seasons, used in a number of roles, most notably as an offensive penalty killer, as he has been doing well to score a number of shorthanded goals.

His 2017 season wasn't quite as good, scoring-wise, as his 2016 season, but his contributions were certainly at the forefront, as the Senators made the playoffs and traveled all the way to the Conference Finals, where they lost to the eventual champions from Pittsburgh.  His regular season tallies from a year ago looked a little something like 12 goals and 33 points in 82 games, good enough for 177th among all forwards, still very pool worthy and he still has more upside to his game.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Bobby Ryan 7.250 Dion Phaneuf 7.000 Craig Anderson 4.200
Mike Hoffman 5.188 Erik Karlsson 6.500 Mike Condon 2.400
Derick Brassard 5.000 Cody Ceci 2.800 Andrew Hammond 1.350
Clarke MacArthur 4.650 Mark Borowiecki 1.100
Kyle Turris 3.500 Thomas Chabot 0.863
Mark Stone 3.500 Chris Wideman 0.800
Zack Smith 3.250 Fredrik Claesson 0.650
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 3.100
Alexandre Burrows 2.500
Nate Thompson 1.650
Tom Pyatt 1.100
Colin White 0.925
Mike Blunden 0.738

The Senators are not struggling in the budget department, as the 23-man projected roster above is still coming in with plenty of space, nearly $5 million available, and they still have to re-sign RFA Ryan Dzingel as well.  If the Sens can find their winning ways again in the coming season, they may still have lots of cap space to play with at the trade deadline, which is exactly where you'd want to be in February/March, looking to expand on one good playoff run the year before

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 16)



From the sounds of development camp this week, the New Jersey Devils are pleased with how well the 1st overall pick, forward Nico Hischier, has fit in with the young guys and once camp had concluded, he had put pen to paper on his new entry-level deal.  The deal will give the young Swiss player the max salary and CapFriendly is reporting that his bonuses, if hit, could see him paid upwards of $11.3 million for the entire three seasons.

Hischier has spent the last 12 months turning heads and gaining more and more momentum towards his NHL career and the Devils are looking to capitalize on that in their rebuild process.  Adding the top pick in the draft to a new-look offense, which now includes Marcus Johansson, as well as Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri... things are starting to look up, slowly.

The Golden Knights were not to be outdone again this summer, as they announced that they locked up all three of their 2017 1st round picks on Saturday, all of which received the max salary and bonuses that reflected where they were selected in the draft process.  The 6th overall pick, forward Cody Glass, the 13th overall pick, forward Nick Suzuki and the 15th overall pick, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, all signed on the dotted line.

Vegas arguably went for skill over size in their first entry draft, back in June, as Glass is the tallest of the three at 6'2", but all three are touted as being very talented individuals and it will be very interesting to see where and how they will fit in to the Vegas system, which has yet to be established.  You can certainly make a valid point, that all three of these kids have a legitimate shot at making the team this year, since there are very few assured slots taken.

By my count now, that's 12 2017 draft picks now signed to deals, nine of which are 1st round picks and only three of those picks are in the top 10, two of those signing yesterday.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Palat Signing Rounds Out Bolts



The last of the big fish to fry for the Tampa Bay Lightning came out of the pan on Friday afternoon, signing a new 5-year, $26.5 million deal, as Ondrej Palat is set to be a Bolts forward for a little while longer yet.  The restricted free agent was the last of the big pieces left on the team's list of things to do and that should just about finish off their summer, barring any groundbreaking deals that come out of the blue, between now and training camp.

The 26-year old Czech has emerged as a very reliable offensive option for the Lightning in recent years, gaining chemistry with the likes of Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov and they have been a formidable force.  Now, all three players are locked up for the foreseeable future, they still have the likes of Steven Stamkos around for leadership, a very strong blueline and a goaltending tandem that may need a little help, but should be capable of winning their fair share of games.

Last season, Palat played in 75 games for the Lightning, scoring 17 goals and 52 points, good enough for 108th overall in scoring, 82nd among all forwards.  Given how the Lightning have been able to keep a good piece of that core together this summer, there is still potential for those numbers to still grow in the 2018 campaign.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Steven Stamkos 8.500 Victor Hedman 7.875 Andrei Vasilevskiy 3.500
Ryan Callahan 5.800 Anton Stralman 4.500 Peter Budaj 1.025
Ondrej Palat 5.300 Braydon Coburn 3.700
Tyler Johnson 5.000 Dan Girardi 3.000
Nikita Kucherov 4.767 Andrej Sustr 1.950
Alex Killorn 4.450 Mikhail Sergachev 0.894
Chris Kunitz 2.000 Slater Koekkoek 0.800
Vladislav Namestnikov 1.938
J.T. Brown 1.250
Erik Condra 1.250
Yanni Gourde 1.000
Cedric Paquette 0.813
Brayden Point 0.662
Cory Conacher 0.650

There is quite a bit to like about the Lightning, on paper.  They have a good portion of their spots filled, a very good mix of veterans and youth at every position and they are projecting to still have $2.5 million in cap space for opening night, if everything here makes it to then.  I don't see Tampa being much for players for the rest of the summer, but if they are, it will be a straight across move in cap space, one would have to believe.

The addition of Dan Girardi still has to be one of the most impressive adds to this team in the off-season, especially since they are going to be giving the reins to a pretty young goalie as their number one in Andrei Vasilevskiy.  Taking care of the keeper will be job number one, but a potent offense should make for a decent power play in the coming season and the Atlantic Division is ripe for the picking, especially if a team can get hot.  I think the Lightning have a real shot at being a great team in 2018 and an even better team to pick from at hockey pool time.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 14)



A couple of 1st round pick signings on Friday, among others, and we'll lead off with the 12th overall selection by Carolina, forward Martin Necas signed his entry-level deal, which should pay him the rookie max in salary at $925,000 and then some bonuses on top of that, which tend to differ from pick to pick and team to team.

The 18-year old Czech had some pretty strong scouting reports out among the publications, especially since he had a season in the top Czech league already and had an okay showing at some international tournaments.  It sounds like he could be a pretty good fit along the wing in the next few years for Carolina, but I can't see them rushing him too quickly, given how young their roster already is.

The New York Rangers wrangled two 1st round picks in this year's draft and having already signed their 7th overall pick earlier, they completed the deal with their 21st overall pick, another Czech forward in Filip Chytil.

Chytil was another underage player playing in the top league back home and when he got to international play, he even saw time on Necas' line.  The early book on Chytil is that he projects to be a second or third line forward, scouts suggesting that he has a good all-around game.

Fringe Signings (Jul 14)

It was reported that Micheal Ferland and the Calgary Flames were working on a new 2-year deal on Thursday evening and then later on in the evening, both the team and the player confirmed the deal on Twitter, sealing the deal and bringing the player back for another couple of seasons.

The deal, when reported, was to be 2 years, $3.5 million, a $1.75 million cap hit per season, which is a decent raise from his $825,000 deal last year.

Ferland finished the 2017 season with 15 goals and 25 points, good enough for 223rd in terms of forward scoring, not too far away from being pool worthy.  Not too bad for a kid that grinds it out, but gets his time on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 13)



The New York Rangers inked the 7th overall selection from June's entry draft on Thursday, signing forward Lias Andersson to his 3-year entry-level deal.

Andersson is projected to be a top-six forward by most outlets that I've read and that suits them just fine, as their depth up front may be a bit challenged, especially down the road.  He was already playing at the Swedish Elite League level in the 2017 season, which bodes well for his transition to the NHL.

The Rangers may have some forward spots open at training camp, having three bubble players already on their projected 22-man roster and another spot yet to be filled there, but that one will be filled by Mika Zibanejad, once he re-signs.  A solid camp for the 18-year old could boost him into the lineup right away.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 12)



The Toronto Maple Leafs' prospect camp wrapped up this week and one of the main standouts there was their top pick from the 2017 entry draft, the 17th overall selection, defenseman Timothy Liljegren.  The 18-year old Swede turned some heads at camp and will certainly be one to watch, when training camp opens in September.

On Wednesday, the Leafs signed Liljegren to his entry-level deal, giving him the full 1st round salary and bonuses that could improve his pay day to around $1.3 million per season.

The Maple Leafs got one of the more interesting prospects in the draft, one that was vying for 1st overall at one point in the couple years leading up to the draft, but his stock fell sharply, when there were questions about his work ethic about.  The Leafs appear to be happy with their talented rearguard, so it will be interesting to see if he can make his way onto the roster.

With the top four spots set, there will be some chatter leading up to camp, as to whether or not Liljegren can jump past Alexey Marchenko, Martin Marincin or Connor Carrick to find a spot in the top seven.



Fringe Signings (Jul 12)

Later on Wednesday evening, the Winnipeg Jets made a fringe signing of their own, bringing restricted free agent forward Andrew Copp back into the fold with a new 2-year, $2 million deal.

Last season, the 23-year old centre played in 64 games and was good for 9 goals and 17 points, a fair ways out of the worthiness numbers, but not that far.  He was 281st among all forwards in scoring and with this deal, it looks like they may want to have him around on the roster a little bit more, which can only translate into a little bit more consistency.

It's hard to say at this time, where his projected rankings are going to land him, but with the changes made in Winnipeg, there appears to be room for him to make some noise.

Recent Contract Extensions (Jul 12)

Well, my hockey pool isn't too familiar with Jaccob Slavin, but it should be more familiar with him, as the Carolina Hurricanes are set to pay this kid for quite some time.  The 23-year old defenseman just signed a new 7-year, $37.1 million contract extension, which will kick in during the 2019 season, as he still needs to finish his entry-level deal in the coming year.

Slavin has flown under the radar for the last couple of seasons, as he has finished in the pool worthy rankings for defensemen in both seasons, but playing in Carolina is really playing in the shadows.  Last season, he played in all 82 games, scoring 5 goals and 34 points, good enough for 47th among all defensemen and he wasn't picked up until the second Waiver Draft this year.  I suspect that he'll be a well sought after player by some, who may have been doing their homework this summer.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tyler Johnson Gets Seven in Tampa



The Tampa Bay Lightning are almost done with their necessary signings in this off-season, as they were able to lock down forward Tyler Johnson to a long-term extension on Monday, signing the diminutive play-maker to a 7-year, $35 million deal, keeping him in the fold for the foreseeable future.

The 5'8" centre filed for salary arbitration as a restricted free agent this summer, but avoided the process with this long-term deal, that gave him both term and a very reasonable salary for slightly underachieving in the regular season, when you take how well he plays in the playoffs into account.

Injuries in the back half of the 2017 season cost him about 16 games, limiting his season to only 66 games, where he was good enough for 19 goals and 45 points, 113th among all forwards.

In the hockey pool he didn't quite have the high expectations that some may have had on him, as Jeremy had taken him in the 5th round, 101st overall.  That was only about two rounds too early, thanks to the injury problems in the latter part of the season, but with a new addition like Chris Kunitz in the fold, not to mention a healthier Steven Stamkos, there should be added chances for offense in the 2018 season.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Steven Stamkos 8.500 Victor Hedman 7.875 Andrei Vasilevskiy 3.500
Ryan Callahan 5.800 Anton Stralman 4.500 Peter Budaj 1.025
Tyler Johnson 5.000 Braydon Coburn 3.700
Nikita Kucherov 4.767 Dan Girardi 3.000
Alex Killorn 4.450 Andrej Sustr 1.950
Chris Kunitz 2.000 Mikhail Sergachev 0.894
Vladislav Namestnikov 1.938 Slater Koekkoek 0.800
J.T. Brown 1.250
Erik Condra 1.250
Yanni Gourde 1.000
Adam Erne 0.874
Cedric Paquette 0.813
Brayden Point 0.662
Cory Conacher 0.650

The Lightning still have to re-sign forward Ondrej Palat and with their current projected 23-man roster above, they have $6.97 million left in cap space underneath the ceiling.  I don't foresee Palat taking up all of that extra hit, but he'll be in line for a pretty good chunk of that remaining business, likely similar to the deal that Johnson signed yesterday.

Stars Re-Sign Faksa



The Dallas Stars continued to make some moves, as I continue my weekend catch-up, as they re-signed restricted free agent forward Radek Faksa to a new 3-year, $6.6 million deal.

Faksa was a 2012 1st round pick and has been hanging around the organization at the minor league level for a few years and now he has finally made the lift into the NHL and this deal means that he should be a full-time guy moving into the 2018 season.

Last season, Faksa did make the leap to playing 80 games for the Stars, scoring 12 goals and 33 points, well inside the top 200 among all forwards, ranking 178th.

The young Czech forward did make an appearance in the hockey pool last season, as Marcie's goon squad did pick him up, as her team was also in the race for the big money, ultimately falling short of 3rd place, but Faksa did contribute 29 PIM in the last segment of the season, helping the goon squad seal up the PIM pool mini-game.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Jamie Benn 9.500 Marc Methot 4.900 Kari Lehtonen 5.900
Jason Spezza 7.500 John Klingberg 4.250 Ben Bishop 4.917
Alexander Radulov 6.250 Dan Hamhuis 3.750
Tyler Seguin 5.750 Esa Lindell 2.200
Martin Hanzal 4.750 Patrik Nemeth 0.945
Radek Faksa 2.200 Miro Heiskanen 0.925
Antoine Roussel 2.000 Julius Honka 0.863
Brett Ritchie 1.750 Greg Pateryn 0.850
Tyler Pitlick 1.000
Devin Shore 0.870
MattIas Janmark 0.700
Brian Flynn 0.700
Adam Cracknell 0.675

With Faksa and Heiskanen added to the projected 23-man roster for the Stars, the spending limit has nearly been reached for the Stars this season, as they figure to only have about $355,000 left under the cap ceiling to work with.  One could certainly look at that roster above and say that they could adequately ice this team and compete, so that's a good sign for the Stars moving forward in this off-season.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 11)



On Saturday, the Dallas Stars put pen to paper with the 3rd overall selection in the draft, getting defenseman Miro Heiskanen under contract and they may just fast-track him to a roster spot in the 2018 season.

Heiskanen climbed the ranks of many scouts and hockey outlets and the all-around good defender like him was seeming more and more like a good fit, once the two top forwards were selected by New Jersey and Philadelphia.

The 17-year old played at the top level of Finnish hockey last season, posting 10 points in 37 games, so we'll have to keep an eye out for this guy, for sure.

Fringe Signings (Jul 11)

In terms of rankings, this one is a bit further than the fringe, but the actual contract reels it in a bit closer, as the expectations grow a bit higher. The Buffalo Sabres signed forward Johan Larsson to a 2-year, $2.95 million deal on Saturday, signalling that it could be his time to step up and make a real contribution to this team in the 2018 season.

Last season, the 24-year old only played in 36 games, but scored 6 goals and 11 points in that time and with some more consistent ice-time and an increased role on the team, there is a possibility that those numbers could reach pool worthiness.

The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Chris Tierney to a new 1-year, $700,000 deal on Sunday.  Tierney, a depth forward last season for the Sharks, played in 80 games, scoring 11 goals and 23 points on the year and he ranked 244th among all forwards in the regular season.

The Sharks are not too terribly tight to the salary cap ceiling at the moment, but as their roster is shaping up already, they are going to have to rely heavily on their depth and with Patrick Marleau heading out to Toronto, a lineup spot in the top six has opened up and it will be interesting to see who jockeys for that spot.



Gone to Europe (Jul 11)

It's been happening less and less as the years have gone by, seeing pool worthy NHL players head back to Europe, but there is one that got the call over the weekend and that was Russian defenseman Nikita Nesterov, signing a deal with CSKA Moscow.

Nesterov played last season between Montreal and Tampa Bay, even made an appearance in the hockey pool in one of the mid-season swaps, but couldn't quite find a new home, as the Canadiens did not qualify him to be a restricted free agent, leaving him to the open market.

There was also one fringe forward, who also made an appearance in the hockey pool last season, Mikhail Grigorenko, as he was also not qualified by his club, the Colorado Avalanche, leaving him to the open market as well.  With no takers immediately at the start of free agency, he also took a deal with CSKA Moscow in the KHL, opting to go home and likely get paid.

One would imagine that this isn't the last time we have seen either of these players in the NHL, as they are both still quite young and some time in the KHL could do them a lot of good in getting more ice-time and honing their skills.



Friday, July 07, 2017

Panthers Re-Sign Mark Pysyk



Florida Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk has had a long road to travel on, before he had become a pool worthy defenseman in the NHL, but finally, through injuries and other career setbacks, he managed to get himself into the conversation for a hockey pool spot last season and possibly even draft worthy this coming fall.

On Thursday, the restricted free agent re-signed with the Florida Panthers, earning a 3-year, $8.2 million deal and he is now back in the fold of a slowly blooming, yet potent Florida blueline.

In all 82 games played, the 25-year old scored 4 goals and 17 points, good enough for a tie for 100th on the blueline for points, but simple tie-breakers had him down in 102nd, not a far cry at all.

With Keith Yandle and Jason Demers taking care of the experience and Aaron Ekblad and Michael Matheson adding the youthful exuberance, it's down to the guys like Pysyk and Alex Petrovic to be the glue on this blueline, holding everything together.  It's a group with a solid dynamic, all six aren't afraid to mix it up physically and they are all bringing something to the table at the offensive end of the ice.  It may only be a matter of time before this group earns some high praise for coming together and being an exceptional unit.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Aleksander Barkov 5.900 Aaron Ekblad 7.500 Roberto Luongo 4.533
Jonathan Huberdeau 5.900 Keith Yandle 6.350 James Reimer 3.400
Vincent Trocheck 4.750 Jason Demers 4.500
Nick Bjugstad 4.100 Mark Pysyk 2.733
Evgeny Dadonov 4.000 Alex Petrovic 1.850
Radim Vrbata 2.500 Michael Matheson 0.925
Derek MacKenzie 1.375 Ian McCoshen 0.925
Colton Sceviour 0.950
Jayce Hawryluk 0.925
Henrik Haapala 0.925
Jared McCann 0.894
Micheal Haley 0.825
Dryden Hunt 0.809
Denis Malgin 0.690

Florida's cap situation may only be considered to be "alright" at the moment, because with their current roster, it's not exactly blowing anyone away and the team only has $6.4 million left in space underneath the ceiling, so any improvements are going to be picking away at an already smallish number.  On the plus side, they do have all of their key restricted free agents taken care of now and they have already made their splashes in the unrestricted market, so it may just be checking to see what their youth are going to bring before they spend any more.

Florida's top six forwards, top six defense and goaltending tandem are looking pretty decent, enough to really compete in the Atlantic Division and possibly do well.  They will suffer, however, when their depth gets tested on the road, especially through Metropolitan and Central Division road trips.  Ekblad is going to have to show an elite level again, while Barkov will have to make that jump into the elite class, before we can start talking long playoff runs or anything, but it could very well be coming.  I could find a few good hockey pool picks here, if I needed to as well.