Saturday, July 21, 2018

Dumba Locks In



The list of pool worthy restricted free agents is slowly dwindling down, as Matt Dumba was the latest player to sign off on a new deal amongst those elite players.  Dumba and the Minnesota Wild agreed upon a 5-year, $30 million deal, late on Friday night, avoiding an arbitration hearing of his own and re-inserting his name into the Wild fold for the long-term.

The 24-year old really came into his own in the 2018 season, finishing in the top 20 among all defensemen in scoring with 14 goals and 50 points, playing in all 82 games for the Wild.  He's an all-situations type of player and that really showed in his increase in ice-time year over year, where he is now playing over 23 minutes a game.

Looking ahead to the 2019 season, the Wild still have a pretty good competitive team on paper, starting with the back end and working their way out.  Their top four defensemen can certainly hang with most of those in the league today.  I don't think I would go so far as to prognosticate a repeat performance for Dumba, however, the kid has plenty of talent, but now his name is really out there and he'll be a guy that other teams will focus on and try to take away at the point.  I can see this being a year, where he has to work his way around that.  It'll be tough, but he'll manage, just slightly below last year's pace.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Zach Parise 7.538 Ryan Suter 7.538 Devan Dubnyk 4.333
Mikael Granlund 5.750 Matt Dumba 6.000 Alex Stalock 0.650
Mikko Koivu 5.500 Jared Spurgeon 5.188
Nino Niederreiter 5.250 Jonas Brodin 4.167
Eric Staal 3.500 Greg Pateryn 2.250
Charlie Coyle 3.200 Nate Prosser 0.650
Marcus Foligno 2.875 Ryan Murphy 0.650
Eric Fehr 1.000
Luke Kunin 0.925
Jordan Greenway 0.917
Joel Eriksson Ek 0.894
Landon Ferraro 0.700
Matt Hendricks 0.700
Cal O'Reilly 0.700

The Wild have handful of RFAs left to re-sign in this off-season, but only one of any roster substance in Jason Zucker.  The Wild do have plenty of room for him, still holding onto about $6.45 million in cap space, after the 23-man roster that I have set up above here.  The Wild should be pretty pleased with where they are, in terms of the group that they have and the value that they have them in at.

Morning Fringe Signings (Jul 21)



On Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks avoided arbitration with defenseman Troy Stecher, signing him to a 2-year, $4.65 million deal.  The 24-year old played in 68 games for the Canucks last season, scoring 1 goal and 11 points, which was a ways off from being pool worthy, 168th among all defensemen in scoring, but a leg injury at the start of the season cost him all of the 14 games missed, so he wasn't able to hit his stride early on in the year.

Stecher has shown some pretty good promise over the last couple of seasons and did make an appearance in the hockey pool last season, so he is considered to be on people's radar.  Maybe a solid 2019 season will firmly plant him on the map.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Morning Fringe Signings (Jul 20)

The Pittsburgh Penguins added some cheap depth on Thursday afternoon, signing forward Derek Grant to a 1-year, $650,000 deal. Grant spent the 2018 season with the Anaheim Ducks and the 28-year old had a decent year in a fairly regular role.  Grant played in 66 games, scoring 12 goals and 24 points, which had him ranked 258th among all forwards in scoring.

It's hard to say where Grant may fit in with the Penguins in the coming season, he has had a hard time fitting in with lesser teams and the Penguins have been doing well developing their own youth.  I'm not sure we have a great sleeper candidate, but if you pencil him in on the bottom of your sheets, he could be worth a gamble with a good training camp.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Evening Fringe Signings (Jul 19)



The Washington Capitals came to terms with one of their key restricted free agents on Thursday afternoon, signing defenseman Madison Bowey to a 2-year, $2 million deal.  Bowey, a 2nd round pick in 2013, finally made it into the Capitals lineup on a semi-permanent basis, playing in 51 games and picking up 12 assists in the process.  That was good enough for 159th among all defensemen and if he can crack the team's blueline on a full-time basis, his fringe position could seriously be improved.

The Capitals only have one more key restricted free agent left to re-sign, forward Tom Wilson.

Afternoon Fringe Signings (Jul 19)

The Winnipeg Jets agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Adam Lowry on Thursday afternoon, signing him to a 3-year, $8.75 million deal.  Lowry had an injury-riddled 2018 season, upper-body injury after upper-body injury, but in 45 games, he still managed 8 goals and 21 points, good enough for 287th among all forwards.  That kind of scoring pace would be enough to lift him into consideration for the hockey pool draft, if you're looking for one of those sleeper-like picks.

The deal is certainly one that suggests that the Jets believe he's on the cusp of some pretty good things, signing him in for some reasonable term and giving him a good salary cap hit at the same time.

Chris Tierney Re-Signs in San Jose



One of the players that may have flown under the radar in the 2018 season was San Jose forward Chris Tierney, who situated himself well within in the scoring ranks among forwards, 146th with 17 goals and 40 points in all 82 games for the club.  He quietly went about his business and didn't cause too much of a stir.

On July 1st, Tierney went to restricted free agency and in less than three weeks, he had himself a new deal, a 2-year pact, worth $5.875 million.

The 24-year old was hovering in the team's 3rd line for the better part of the season, but did see a little bit of power play time and with some of the team's depth from last season moving on through free agency, he could certainly see an increase in offensive responsibility.  With that being said, I think there's a likely increase in his projections and he could be one of those guys you could add late on in the hockey pool draft and get a good bargain on.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 19)

There was sure a lot of talk about how far defenseman Ryan Merkley could slide down the draft rankings, just before the entry draft had started. The kid had carried a reputation of being a selfish player that is hard to manage, but the San Jose Sharks felt strongly about him. They took him with their 1st round pick, 21st overall, and not only that, signed him to his 3-year entry-level deal on Wednesday as well.

With 67 points in 63 games in Guelph of the OHL, Merkley certainly put up the numbers to be a 1st round pick in the entry draft and the Sharks may have came up big, if they can wrangle him into their system and get him to succeed at the top level.

The Sharks do have some bubble players on their blueline, but as much as their could be space for their new prospect, playing defense at the NHL level will probably require another year or two of seasoning before making the leap. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 18)

The Edmonton Oilers put pen to paper with their top pick in the 2018 entry draft, defenseman Evan Bouchard. Bouchard got his 3-year max entry-level deal, which will give him an initial cap hit of $925,000, but bonuses could carry him up over $4 million in total.

The 18-year old was regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in the draft, already having pretty good size and offensive numbers in the OHL, posting 87 points in 67 games with the London Knights.

There's certainly an argument for Bouchard to possibly be on the Oilers' opening night roster in October, as their blueline depth was pretty questionable heading into this summer, so he could certainly be one to watch this fall.

Fringe Signings (Jul 18)

The New Jersey Devils were finally a bit busier in this off-season on Tuesday, signing a trio of players, including a couple of fringe players for the hockey pool, forwards Stefan Noesen and Blake Coleman.

Noesen got a 1-year, $1.725 million deal after he posted 13 goals and 27 points in 72 games, ranking 231st among all forwards in scoring.  That didn't put him too far out of the running and at 25 years old, he could certainly be trending the right way.

Coleman wasn't too far behind at 13 goals and 25 points and the 26-year old earned a 3-year deal, which will have a $1.8 million cap hit per season.

The Devils also signed an entry-level deal with their 5th round pick in June, forward Yegor Sharangovich, but there really are no expectations for him just yet.  We'll have to wait until training camp before we make any assumptions there.

Despite having some fairly high expectations surrounding him, New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey has really yet to deliver on them, especially for us poolies.  He was close last season, posting 17 goals and 28 points in 79 games, ranking him 223rd among all forwards, so he's coming along.  The Rangers signed him to a new 2-year deal, posting a cap hit of $2.275 million in each season.

The rebuild of the Rangers does seem to be moving quite quickly and Vesey is certainly looked upon as one of the solutions to the problem, more than the cause of it.  So he'll continue to march along in blue.

Islanders Reach Terms with Pulock



On Tuesday morning, the New York Islanders announced that they had re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Ryan Pulock to a 2-year deal, but they did not disclose any financial numbers at the time of the announcement.  Of course, there is the internet and eventually, it was revealed that Pulock's cap hit will be $2 million for each of his two seasons.

The 23-year old finally made the leap into the Islanders full-time lineup in the 2018 season, playing in 68 games, scoring 10 goals and 32 assists in his first full season, ranking 46th among all defenders in scoring in the season.

Pulock had been hanging around the system for the Islanders for a few seasons, briefly making an appearance in the 2017 season, but finally making his breakthrough last season and now he could certainly be considered a worth while candidate for your hockey pool team in the 2019 season.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Flames Ink Lindholm



Definitely one of the big deals that needed doing for the Calgary Flames was getting pen to paper with one of their recent acquisitions via trade, forward Elias Lindholm.  Lindholm was acquired from the Hurricanes in a sizable 4-player deal, both teams taking care of some business within their own dressing rooms, if you believe the reports out there, but free agency was looming for Lindholm, to which was taken care of on Monday.

Lindholm and the Flames agreed upon a 6-year, $29.1 million deal, which will see a cap hit of $4.85 million per season through the 2024 season.

The 23-year old didn't do too badly on a struggling-for-offense team like the Hurricanes last season, finishing with 16 goals and 44 points in 81 games with the club, which had him ranked 133rd among all forwards in scoring.  The idea will be for him to be on either one of the top two lines, depending on where he or James Neal fall in the new Flames lineup, but either way, it's an added bit of speed and scoring, which should help the Flames go a little further in 2019.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Johnny Gaudreau 6.750 Mark Giordano 6.750 Mike Smith 5.667
Sean Monahan 6.375 TJ Brodie 4.650 Tyler Parsons 0.759
James Neal 5.750 Travis Hamonic 3.857
Mikael Backlund 5.350 Michael Stone 3.500
Elias Lindholm 4.850 Dalton Prout 0.800
Troy Brouwer 4.500 Rasmus Andersson 0.756
Michael Frolik 4.300 Oliver Kylington 0.731
Derek Ryan 3.125
Sam Bennett 1.950
Austin Czarnik 1.250
Curtis Lazar 0.950
Matthew Tkachuk 0.925
Andrew Mangiapane 0.705
Alan Quine 0.700

The Flames still have some work to do, but they're cutting it nice and tight against the cap ceiling, if you ask me. Still with Noah Hanifin, Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies to sign, this team is running out of cap space. I currently have them with a projected 23-man roster, like the one above and they only have $3.6 million left in space.  Hanifin is going to be on the expensive side, while Jankowski could request a fair bit and Gillies could make some money to be the backup and taking out three of the cheaper deals will only open up a little over $2 million in space over that, so it will be tight.  It'll be interesting to see what else the Flames have up their sleeves this summer.

Saros Rewarded in Nashville



There wasn't a great deal of goaltending on this year's pool worthy free agent list, but Juuse Saros did certainly make his mark with the Nashville Predators this season, giving the team a steady backup behind Pekka Rinne, offering the number one a confident rest on his scheduled days off.  For that, the 23-year old Finn was rewarded in his new deal from restricted free agency, earning a 3-year, $4.5 million deal on Monday.

Saros appeared in 26 games for Nashville in the 2018 season and posted 11 wins and 31 points in those games, which was good enough for 44th overall in pool scoring among goalies.  Giving him some quality minutes in the season, certainly helped his confidence and I would be expecting much of the same in the 2019 season as well.

The Predators also re-signed forward Ryan Hartman to a 1-year deal on Monday, giving him $875,000, but he was more like a fringe player in the year, but he'll feature on the team update below.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Ryan Johansen 8.000 P.K. Subban 9.000 Pekka Rinne 7.000
Filip Forsberg 6.000 Roman Josi 4.000 Juuse Saros 1.500
Kyle Turris 6.000 Mattias Ekholm 3.750
Viktor Arvidsson 4.250 Ryan Ellis 2.500
Craig Smith 4.250 Matt Irwin 0.675
Nick Bonino 4.100 Yannick Weber 0.675
Calle Jarnkrok 2.000 Anthony Bitetto 0.650
Austin Watson 1.100
Eeli Tolvanen 0.894
Ryan Hartman 0.875
Kevin Fiala 0.863
Frederick Gaudreau 0.667
Zac Rinaldo 0.650
Colton Sissons 0.625

The Nashville Predators remain a strong looking team, especially on paper, working from the back end outwards, so it's really in their best interest to remain cap friendly... and they are!  Without any major glaring free agents left to sign on their side, they are still coming in with $8.3 million in cap space with this 23-man roster above.  That's a pretty good number and one they can certainly use to their advantage.  They will certainly be looked upon favourably, once the projections come out next month.

Recent Contract Extensions (Jul 16)



The Anaheim Ducks are certainly not shy about showing Adam Henrique some love in this off-season, as they have given the veteran forward a contract extension, when he's still got a year left on his current deal.  The extension is of the 5-year variety and will be worth $29.25 million in total, a $5.85 million cap hit per season and it is reportedly coming with a modified no-trade clause on top of it.  That's not a bad deal for him at all.

The Ducks acquired the 28-year old from the Devils in the latter part of November last season, a deal that saw Sami Vatanen go in the other direction, as Anaheim tried to use some of their defensive depth for offensive talent early on.  It seemed to have paid off, since Henrique finished 137th overall in hockey pool scoring, with 50 points in 81 games between New Jersey and Anaheim.  Obviously, the return was certainly warranting an extension in Anaheim's eyes.

My early projections are thinking that they'll be in the same neighbourhood as last season, around the 50-point range, there isn't a lot in his game that would suggest otherwise at the moment.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 15)



It was leaked on Sunday night and formally announced on Monday morning, that Toronto Maple Leafs 1st round pick in June, defenseman Rasmus Sandin, signed his 3-year entry-level deal.  It has been reported that Sandin will earn the rookie maximum cap hit of $925,000 in each of his three seasons, assuming that he plays right away, but there won't be any performance bonuses to speak of.  Sandin was taken with the 29th overall pick, so there is a significant difference between the top end picks and the lower end picks, even in the 1st round.

Sandin played in the OHL for the Soo Greyhounds last season, picking up 45 points in 51 games from the blueline, so he does have potential offensively, something that us poolies are looking out for, but there is a pretty good chance that he might hone his talents back in Sweden next season, letting the 18-year old develop properly into an NHL player.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Fringe Signings (Jul 15)



One of the emerging young players in the Montreal Canadiens system is forward Phillip Danault and he wasn't too far off the pace for the hockey pool conversation last season, ranking 253rd among all forwards in scoring with 8 goals and 25 points in 52 games last season.  Danault was a restricted free agent, up until Sunday, when he signed a 3-year, $9.25 million deal, locking him in for the foreseeable future.

The 25-year old should feature in the middle-six of the team's lineup in the coming season, more than likely as the 3rd line centre, but with the team in as much flux as it is right now, it couldn't be surprising if he was bumped up to the 2nd line from time to time, making him into a depth asset.

Jackets Re-Sign Bjorkstrand



The Columbus Blue Jackets have now finished off all of their key restricted free agent signings now, with the signing of forward Oliver Bjorkstrand on Sunday.  The team and player came together on a new 3-year, $7.5 million deal, already rounding out the projected roster for the upcoming season.

The 23-year old Dane finally managed to put together his first full season with the Jackets, playing in all 82 games, scoring 11 goals and 40 points in the process.  Once he got the ice-time with the big club, he was certainly a hockey pool worthy player, ranking 150th among all forwards in scoring.

You would have to imagine that his role with the club is only going to increase in the coming seasons, especially with the uncertainty of Artemi Panarin's long-term role with the team, something that Bjorkstrand could really make good use out of, if the time came.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Artemi Panarin 6.000 Seth Jones 5.400 Sergei Bobrovsky 7.425
Brandon Dubinsky 5.850 David Savard 4.250 Joonas Korpisalo 0.900
Cam Atkinson 5.750 Ryan Murray 2.825
Nick Foligno 5.500 Markus Nutivaara 2.700
Alexander Wennberg 4.900 Zach Werenski 0.925
Boone Jenner 3.750 Gabriel Carlsson 0.894
Riley Nash 2.750 Scott Harrington 0.675
Oliver Bjorkstrand 2.500
Josh Anderson 1.800
Pierre-Luc Dubois 0.894
Sonny Milano 0.863
Lukas Sedlak 0.825
Markus Hannikainen 0.675
Anthony Duclair 0.650

Right now, the Jackets look like they could be a very hard team to play against, since they have a fair bit of grit on their roster, not to mention some natural scoring ability.  The early thoughts are fairly positive for this club, assuming that this is the lineup that opens the season.

Cap-wise, this team is very healthy heading into the dog days of the summer, with no key restricted free agents left to sign and still $6 million in cap space for the summer.  If they were feeling saucy enough, they could be in the mix for another unrestricted free agent, just to add a little bit more depth to their roster.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Recent Contract Extensions (Jul 14)



The Vegas Golden Knights rewarded one of their top players for his contributions to the team's huge inaugural season, as Marc-Andre Fleury, still with one year left on his current contract, was given a 3-year, $21 million contract extension, which will see him play until he's 37 years old, through the 2022 season.

Fleury will surely be a 1st round pick in this year's hockey pool draft, after he finished with 29 wins and 67 points in only 46 appearances for the Golden Knights, dealing with some injuries in the first half of the season, which limited his appearances.  The real impressive play came in the playoffs, where Fleury was an absolute dynamo in the crease, finishing with 13 wins and 35 points in 20 appearances, taking the Knights to the Stanley Cup Finals.

It's a pretty long-term deal for the 33-year old, but it isn't to say that he hasn't played well enough in his career to have earned such a deal. 

Fringe Signings (Jul 14)



Acquired from the Winnipeg Jets this summer, forward Joel Armia signed with his new club on Friday, the Montreal Canadiens, inking a 1-year, $1.85 million deal.  Armia was the centrepiece of a deal that saw the Jets dispatch of a lot of excess cap space, trying to pave the way for bigger and better things, while the Canadiens acquired a player with a reasonable amount of miles on him already, but still only 25 years old, trying to fit him into somewhat of a rebuild.

Last season, the Finn finished with 12 goals and 29 points in 79 games for the Jets, which had him ranked just outside of the hockey pool conversation, 220th among all forwards, and the Canadiens' depth could suggest that he could find a little bit more ice-time, which could lead to a little more offensive production.

Friday also saw the re-signing of Dallas Stars restricted free agent forward Devin Shore, who was right on the brink of being hockey pool worthy last season, actually appearing in last year's draft, but finishing 201st among all forwards in the rankings.  Shore signed a 2-year, $4.6 million deal before the weekend kicked off.

Shore finished with 11 goals and 32 points in all 82 games, right on the cusp of the rankings, and with the improvements done in Dallas in the off-season, not to mention some of the players ahead of him in the rankings falling off the list for a myriad of reasons, he could very well find himself a fit in a regular hockey pool spot next season.

An injury-plagued year really did a number on Columbus' Ryan Murray, restricting him to only 44 games last season. He had an upper-body injury at the end of November, which cost him 34 games and it made for a really long year.  The Jackets and the 24-year old defender agreed to the terms of his restricted free agency qualifying offer, a 1-year, $2.825 million deal, which will give him the opportunity to bounce back and possibly get his career on track.

In those 44 games, Murray finished with 1 goal and 12 points, good enough for 157th among defenders and a full season would have had him well inside the hockey pool conversation, one would have to believe.  He's another one of those players that may fall down the ranks of the draft, thanks to his injury last season, one to possibly take a note of for a bargain pick late.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 14)



On Friday, the Los Angeles Kings inked their top pick in the 2018 entry draft, Finnish forward Rasmus Kupari, the 20th overall selection.  The 18-year old signed his 3-year entry-level deal, which will give him a salary cap hit of $925,000 before his performance bonuses.

Kupari was scouted as a very quick and very dangerous offensive option in the draft and he already carries some solid size at 6'1" and 183 pounds.  The Kings don't exactly have a great history of bringing young players up to the big time right away and I don't imagine much will change with Kupari in the mix, unless he can have some kind of camp.  He'll likely be one to watch, but probably not this season.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fringe Signings (Jul 12)



One last signing on the day for Thursday... the Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to a 3-year, $6.4 million deal, bringing the hulking defenseman back into the fold after acquiring him from the Dallas Stars mid-season.

Oleksiak wasn't too far off being pool worthy in the 2018 season, playing in 68 games between Dallas and Pittsburgh, scoring 5 goals and 17 points in that time.  Most of those numbers did come in Pittsburgh, 14 points in 47 games, so there's a fine chance that playing with the Penguins would be enough to see him up into the pool worthy ranks for next year.  Something to think about.