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2017 Free Agent Preview (TBL to WPG)

As the 2016-17 NHL season concludes and NHL fans prepare for the opening of free agency Money Puck Systems wants to take the opportunity to review the most important free agents for each franchise and give fans our best guess as to what these players are worth and what they will actually get (obviously not the same thing all the time!).

Tampa Bay Lightning

Despite trading upcoming free agent Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens (who we had at $5.4M/year and the Canadiens signed at $5.5M/year) the Tampa Bay Lightning still have some pretty big contracts to look at this offseason. First on our list is Ondrej Palat, Palat put up 52 points this year in 75 games and has been a consistent scorer for Tampa Bay since 2013-14. That level of production justifies a pretty big raise from his current $3.333 million/year to $6.1 million/year but with Yzerman as the GM in Tampa Bay we’re expecting Palat to take less. Next up is Tyler Johnson, Johnson is coming off a couple down years after posting 72 points in 77 games back in 2014-15 so his value has certainly come down since then and given that our model by default uses 3 year average rates he might be worth even less than we’re calculating at $5.9 million/season as it includes 2014-15. Also, like Palat, Johnson is an RFA and won’t have the leverage of a UFA to get his full value – expect him to take less. The last member of the Lightning we’ll talk about is Andrej Sustr. Sustr played a fair amount last year for the Lightning and would justify a raise to $3.4M/year but again don’t hold your breath given his RFA status.

Player MPS Value Expected Value Expected Term
Ondrej Palat $6.1M $5.0M 4 years
Tyler Johnson $5.9M $5.0M 4 years
Andrej Sustr $3.4M $2.7M 4 years
Jonathan Drouin $5.4M Signed for $5.5M 6 years

Toronto Maple Leafs

Should be an interesting offseason for the Maple Leafs as a number of players enter free agency although most of them are the aging veterans that are not necessarily part of the team’s core. In that department we have 31 year old Roman Polak who is coming off his $2.25M/year deal and probably deserves a raise to $3.2M/year. Given his age and likely fit on a team’s depth chart however we expect he will settle for a contract of similar value this time around. Next we have 32 year old Brian Boyle who will likely attract some attention given his size and ability to score a few points. We have him worth $2.8M/season and expect he’s more likely than most to get close to his actual value. Also 32 years old is Matt Hunwick who we have worth $2.9M/year. Given his depth role though we expect he’ll only get a small raise from the $1.2M/year he made last season. The last player we’ll talk about here is Connor Brown. After a breakout season last year where he put up 36 points we have him worth a somewhat shocking $4.4M/year. Given that he’s an RFA though and it is such a small sample size we expect he’s not coming anywhere near that number on this contract.

Player MPS Value Expected Value Expected Term
Roman Polak $3.2M $2.5M 2 years
Brian Boyle $2.8M $2.6M 2 years
Matt Hunwick $2.9M $1.7M 2 years
Connor Brown $4.4M $2.5M 2 years

Vancouver Canucks

After a very challenging 2016-17 season there isn’t a lot of turnover in Vancouver and the only two players we’ll talk about here are Erik Gudbranson (who signed before we got this out) and Bo Horvat. With respect to Gudbranson he signed for exactly what we would have expected and for just a touch above his actual value. He was coming off a $3.5M/year deal and was worth $3.2M/year based on our calculations so rather than try and push through a decrease the Canucks simply elected to keep him at $3.5M/year. For Horvat we’re expecting a big change from his last contract of $1.74M/year…his 52 points last season led the team (I’m sorry for your loss Vancouver fans) and that should be worth about $5.6M/year. Of course he is an RFA so we might expect him to take a little less but given the lack of star power for the Canucks right now we actually think he’ll probably get close to his value.

Player MPS Value Expected Value Expected Term
Bo Horvat $5.6M $5.5M 6 years
Erik Gudbranson $3.2M Signed for $3.5M 1 year

Washington Capitals

As a perfect contrast to the Vancouver Canucks, the Washington Capitals had a very successful 2016-17 regular season and they have a ton of free agents to deal with. At the top of the free agent pile we’re going to put Kevin Shattenkirk. The highly sought after defencemen can put up points and is sure to be one of the top signings this offseason after his career high 56 points last season. Ultimately after running the 28 year old through the calculator we have a value of $7.6M/year for him on a 6 year term. Our default assumptions tend to overvalue offensive defencemen relative to what actually happens in the league however so expect him to get more like $7.0M/year. Next up we have T.J. Oshie, who already signed a slight bargain of a deal at $5.75M/year for 8 years (okay the term is a little long). If he manages to keep his production up for the duration of that deal however we’d have him worth $6.4M/year. After Oshie we have Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov can also pile up the points and despite a down year where he only(!) scored 59 we still have him worth $6.2M/year. His RFA status will likely hold him back from that number though so expect something closer to $5M/year.

You’d think we’d be done now but we’ve still got more and next is Dmitry Orlov. The 25 year old defenceman scored a very healthy 33 points last year after putting up 26 the year prior so we’d say he’s due for a raise on his $2.57M/year salary. In our opinion that kind of production is worth about $5.4M/year but again as an RFA he’ll end up taking less. After Orlov we have ‘Mr. Game 7’, Justin Williams, who does actually score in the regular season too. His 48 points in 2016-17 and similar production in the past suggest to us that he’s worth $4.4M/year. That said his anchor point of $3.25M/year on his last deal probably means someone gets a discount on him again this time around. And there’s still more so we move on to Karl Alzner. Alzner is the subject of a lot of debate in the hockey twitterverse but nonetheless his ice time suggests a player worth $4.2M/season and if Kris Russell’s contract is any indication we believe he’ll get something very close to that.

Honestly, we’d love to stop there to be fair to the other teams but there are still more free agents that are worth discussing so we still need to talk about Andre Burakovsky, Daniel Winnik, Brett Connolly and Nate Schmidt. For Burakovsky his last two seasons of 38 and 35 points make him worth just shy of $4.0M/year but as an RFA he’ll get less. For Winnik his last contract at $2.25M/year will keep him short of his $3.7M/year value but we do expect a raise of some sort. For Brett Connolly we had him worth $2.5M/year and he did re-up this week for only $1.5M/year but that’s the trend for an RFA in depth role to take that kind of discount. Then lastly on Nate Schmidt we have a value of $2.9M/year but given he is also an RFA expect something just under $2.0M/year.

Player MPS Value Expected Value Expected Term
Kevin Shattenkirk $7.6M $7.0M 6 years
T.J. Oshie $6.4M Signed for $5.75M 8 years
Evgeny Kuznetsov $6.2M $5.5M 4 years
Dmitry Orlov $5.4M $4.5M 4 years
Justin Williams $4.4M $3.5M 1 year
Karl Alzner $4.2M $4.0M 4 years
Andre Burakovsky $3.9M $3.5M 4 years
Daniel Winnik $3.7M $2.7M 2 years
Brett Connolly $2.5M Signed for $1.5M 2 years
Nate Schmidt $2.9M $1.9M 3 years

Winnipeg Jets

Last but not least we have the Winnipeg Jets. Honestly there’s not a ton of high value players here but we’ll take a look at a couple. First we’ll look at Marko Dano. His 11 points in 38 games last season with the Jets is not a bad scoring rate and despite the small sample size that would make him worth $2.1M/year. Of course the high level of uncertainty in that however allowed the Jets to get a very friendly $850,000 deal done back on June 13th. Outside of Dano we have Ben Chiarot who played 59 games last season and scored 12 points which makes him worth $2.6M/year in our opinion but again because of his RFA status the Jets were able to sign him for only $1.4M/year.

Player MPS Value Expected Value Expected Term
Ben Chiarot $2.6M Signed for $1.4M 2 years
Marko Dano $2.1M Signed for $850K 1 year
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2017 Free Agent Preview (TBL to WPG)

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