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.

Hawks Unload Hossa to the Desert

2018 Season July 1st, 2018
To Arizona POS Age GP Goals Points Years Cap Hit
Marian Hossa F 39 0 0 0 3 $5.275 mil
Vinnie Hinostroza F 24 50 7 25 2 $1.5 mil
Jordan Oesterle D 26 55 5 15 1 $650k
2019 3rd Round Draft Pick
To Chicago POS Age GP Goals Points Years Cap Hit
Marcus Kruger F 28 48 1 6 1 $2.775 mil
Jordan Maletta F 23 0 0 0 1 $793k
Andrew Campbell D 30 0 0 0 1 $650k
Mackenzie Entwhistle F 19 0 0 0 0 USD
2019 5th Round Draft Pick

Really, this is more of a fringe trade, but since it does involve Marian Hossa, a hockey pool Hall of Famer, I guess we can do a pretty big post for it.

On Thursday, the Arizona Coyotes acquired forward Vinnie Hinostroza and defenseman Jordan Oesterle, plus a pick, in order to take on Hossa's remaining three years on his contract, before he retires officially.  Hossa is unable to play, due to a skin condition that flares up when his hockey equipment goes on, so he has semi-officially called it a career, ready to live the remaining years on the Injured Reserve.

The Blackhawks were looking to clear off cap space, more for off-season movement than anything else, but they also re-acquired Marcus Kruger, who has a history with the club, two young forwards and a veteran AHL defenseman as well, to help make room for the contract and new players.

There really isn't a lot to go on for either side, Oesterle did make an appearance in the hockey pool last season and he could feature in Arizona's top seven.  It's not to say he's a slam dunk to be a pool worthy defender next season, but he'll get a better shot in Arizona than he would have in Chicago in 2019.

The real workings of this trade happen at the salary cap level, where the Blackhawks have opened themselves up to a little over $6 million in cap space for the 2019 season, meaning they could be players in the trade market that's warming up or they could be looking more long-term, without the headaches of the Long Term Injured Reserve math.

The Coyotes, on the other hand, now with Hossa and Dave Bolland on their projected roster, destined for the IR, they make up $10.775 million in cap space on their projected 25-man roster and they still have $9.9 million in cap space under the ceiling and they haven't projected any usage of the LTIR.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 12)

The St. Louis Blues signed their 1st round pick in June's entry draft, 18-year old German forward Dominik Bokk, giving him his 3-year entry-level deal.  Bokk is likely to play in Sweden in the 2019 season, but he does have some sparkling scouting reports under his name, suggesting that he has some very good offensive upside, which will eventually find its way over to the North American game.  The Blues now have him locked up, with his contract likely to slide with the assignment back over to Sweden, so he'll be under their roof for the next four seasons.

Jets Re-Sign Hellebuyck

Heading to July 1st and the free agent market opening up, Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck took the title of the highest ranked free agent, either restricted or unrestricted, RFA in his case.  On Thursday, the Jets and their number one goalie came to terms on a 6-year deal, worth $37 million in total, a big pay day after quite the run in 2018.  This equates to a cap hit in the neighbourhood of $6.167 million in each of those years.

In the regular season, the 25-year old keeper finished 4th overall and 2nd among all goalies in hockey pool points, registering 44 wins and 102 points in 67 appearances for the club, not to mention his run into the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs.

The Jets are now partially the way through their off-season work, but certainly Hellebuyck is a big check mark on their to-do list being completed.  The team still has to come to terms with both Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey this summer, but with Paul Stastny and his big contract demands moving on, the team still has plenty of room to fill out their core group.

Red Wings Bridge Mantha

The Detroit Red Wings haven't been shy about getting their work done in this off-season and Wednesday, they re-signed restricted free agent forward Anthony Mantha, giving him a 2-year, $6.6 million deal.

The 23-year old was a 1st round pick for the Red Wings back in 2013, but took a little bit of extra time to develop his game to the NHL level, but his 2018 season was a good indicator of what he can bring to the table, scoring 24 goals and 48 points in 80 games and there could still be more to give yet.

The Red Wings have been doing more within their own organization, rather than doing a lot of marketplace shopping, besides both Thomas Vanek and Jonathan Bernier joining the club.  All of their signings are rounding out their 2019 lineup pretty well, as they try to improve upon a fairly poor 2018 season, where they finished 24 points out of the playoffs.  A year of experience for guys like Mantha should certainly go a long ways to helping to turn the trend line upwards.

The Red Wings are starting to feel the pinch of the salary cap ceiling again, now situated less than $1 million away from the ceiling after this signing, but they still have the ability to put Johan Franzen's cap hit on LTIR relief, which would give them an extra $4 million to play with.  They'll desperately need that relief, since they still have to re-sign Dylan Larkin before it's all said and done.

Blues Compliment Maroon

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues added a little bit of hometown talent through the free agent market, signing unrestricted free agent forward Patrick Maroon, giving him a 1-year, $1.75 million deal.

Maroon takes a little bit of a pay cut, but the St. Louis native does return home to play for the team he cheered for as a kid, so that seems to be a pretty good trade-off. 

The 30-year old forward split time between Edmonton and New Jersey in the 2018 season, getting dealt at the trade deadline, playing in 74 games, scoring 17 goals and 43 points.  That was good enough for 136th among all forwards in scoring, situated fairly well among the hockey pool worthy forwards.

The Blues have undergone quite the overhaul at the forward position in this off-season, adding the likes of Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Bozak, David Perron and now Maroon.  I'm hesitant to suggest that all of these moves have necessarily made this team a lot better, but some added size and grit couldn't hurt in the Central Division, surely.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Recent Contract Extensions (Jul 10)

The Tampa Bay Lightning didn't waste much time, getting their premier forward locked up for the long-term, as Nikita Kucherov agreed to a new 8-year contract extension Tuesday morning, said to be worth $76 million in total, a $9.5 million cap hit per season.

Kucherov has been one of the more dynamic forwards in the last couple of seasons, posting 85 points in 2017 and then 100 points in 2018, really guiding the way for the Lightning, from a pure offensive perspective.  He has emerged as an elite player, not only posting those production levels, but carrying them on the next season.

The Lightning have situated themselves quite well through the 2019 season and into the 2020 season, still leaving a bit of room to move for when they look at new contracts for both Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde in the next year or so.

Fringe Signings (Jul 10)

The New York Islanders added some European talent to their upcoming 2019 roster, signing veteran Czech forward Jan Kovar to a 1-year, $2 million deal.  The 28-year old escapes the grasp of the entry-level deal, foregoing any rookie status and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal.

Kovar played with Magnitogorsk in the KHL last season, picking up 35 points in 54 games, including 7 goals.  He was also a part of the Czech Republic Olympic team in PyeongChang, featuring in the Olympic hockey pool on Dale C.'s team.

Islanders management seems to believe that he can be a top nine forward on the team next season and with the departures already having gone from their roster this summer, there is certainly a very good chance of it.  He could be one to watch in training camp.