Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rangers Also Avoid With Spooner

And in the matter of only a few short days, the New York Rangers went from facing three arbitration hearings with some key restricted free agents to getting them all locked down for at least one more year, in other cases more.

Ryan Spooner would indeed be one of those cases, signing a 2-year, $8 million deal, ahead of his case later on this week, and with that, the Rangers are pretty much ready to roll on with training camp, give or take a few more minor-league signings.

The 26-year old was a breath of fresh air for the Rangers, after he was acquired at the trade deadline in an asset sell-off to Boston, picking up 16 points in 20 games to finish off the year.  In total, Spooner played in 59 games between Boston and New York and finished with 41 points.  He missed a considerable amount of time at the start of the season to a groin injury, but still fared pretty well by the end.

The Rangers do seem a bit skeptical about signing anyone for the long-term these days, likely part of their rebuilding plan, but a couple of seasons should be enough time for Spooner to show some value and I think he's poised to do just that.  I'm picking him to do some good things this season, which will be highlighted more in my pool projection posts in a couple of weeks time.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Mika Zibanejad 5.350 Kevin Shattenkirk 6.650 Henrik Lundqvist 8.500
Kevin Hayes 5.175 Marc Staal 5.700 Marek Mazanec 0.650
Chris Kreider 4.625 Brady Skjei 5.250
Mats Zuccarello 4.500 Brendan Smith 4.350
Vladislav Namestnikov 4.000 Tony DeAngelo 0.863
Ryan Spooner 4.000 Fredrik Claesson 0.700
Jimmy Vesey 2.275 Steven Kampfer 0.650
Matt Beleskey 1.900
Jesper Fast 1.850
Lias Andersson 0.925
Pavel Buchnevich 0.925
Cody McLeod 0.750
Boo Nieves 0.709
Peter Holland 0.675

I think the Rangers have done quite well in this off-season, as they have a fairly fast looking team, still fairly young, you know... not counting Lundqvist back there and they're coming in well under budget, with nearly $5 million in cap space with this current 23-man roster above.  Their rebuild may actually be a little more exciting than in some other markets, because I think they've done an okay job at being relatively competitive today as well.  Maybe we can call it more of a retool for now, despite how much work that wrecking ball did last spring.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Rangers Re-Sign Hayes

All of a sudden, the New York Rangers are making some real progress with their free agents, as Kevin Hayes re-signed on Monday, leaving only Ryan Spooner and his possible arbitration hearing left on the table.

Hayes and the Rangers agreed upon a 1-year, $5.175 million deal at the start of the week, avoiding the hearing that was scheduled for later on in the week and it will bring Hayes to unrestricted free agency next summer, barring any sort of contract extension in the New Year.

The 26-year old has been a pretty good mid-level forward for the Rangers since joining on, last season posting 44 points in 76 games, which was good enough for 175th overall in pool scoring, 128th among all forwards.

It's hard to say whether or not Hayes has a long-term future with the Rangers, given the 1-year deal, but he has certainly been rewarded, salary-wise, for putting up a couple of consistent seasons in the mid-40 point range.  I think he can be a guy that can hit the 50-point range here in his career and if the pieces fall fairly for him, he could do it as soon as this season.

This signing now on the books leaves the Rangers with about $8 million in cap space, give or take burying Matt Beleskey in the minors once again, but that's a decision that can be made after camp.  Spooner is the only one of any real value left to be signed and I get the feeling that the Rangers will want to extend him much further than just one season.

Top Prospect Signings (Jul 30)

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced on Monday that they have signed their top pick from the 2018 entry draft, forward Liam Foudy, giving him his 3-year entry-level deal. Foudy was taken with the 18th overall selection after a decent season, numbers-wise, with the OHL's London Knights, picking up 40 points in 65 games with the club. Foudy is listed as a centre and the premium that was put on the pivot position in this draft was pretty high, so the Jackets were able to snag him with their mid-round pick and signing him straight away means that they have some high expectations for him off the hop.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Skjei Signs Long-Term

The New York Rangers took care of some business on Saturday, re-signing one of their last three remaining pool worthy free agents, defenseman Brady Skjei.

Skjei broke in with the Rangers back at the end of the 2016 season and really hasn't looked back since, posting two very good seasons with the club in 2017 and 2018.  His new deal is now of the 6-year variety, set to pay him $31.5 million, which works out to be $5.25 million per season.

The 24-year old has very good size and has some great offensive upside, posting 4 goals and 25 points in 82 games in his sophomore season, short of the 39 points of the season before, but I would be expecting a big breakout this coming season.

Even though the Rangers are in a rebuild/retool mode at the moment, their blueline still appears to be in very good shape, especially with the top three, which you can see above.  They should still keep themselves in a lot of games and stay competitive, despite going through this transition period.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Mika Zibanejad 5.350 Kevin Shattenkirk 6.650 Henrik Lundqvist 8.500
Chris Kreider 4.625 Marc Staal 5.700 Marek Mazanec 0.650
Mats Zuccarello 4.500 Brady Skjei 5.250
Vladislav Namestnikov 4.000 Brendan Smith 4.350
Jimmy Vesey 2.275 Tony DeAngelo 0.863
Matt Beleskey 1.900 Fredrik Claesson 0.700
Jesper Fast 1.850 Steven Kampfer 0.650
Lias Andersson 0.925
Pavel Buchnevich 0.925
Filip Chytil 0.925
Vinni Lettieri 0.925
Brett Howden 0.894
Cody McLeod 0.750
Peter Holland 0.675

But like I had mentioned at the top of the post, there are still two more pool worthy RFAs left to sign for the Rangers, forwards Ryan Spooner and Kevin Hayes, and they will have to do so with about $12 million in cap space remaining.  I'm not saying that it is a problem, it is just the statement of fact.  Neither player should be overly expensive, to the point that they'll drain the budget, but it's all something worth considering.  Both players have filed for arbitration, so the numbers shouldn't finish off too badly, one could assume.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Wilson Punches Out Big Deal

The week finished off with quite the bang, as the Washington Capitals finished off their major restricted free agent signings of the summer with an absolute whopper of a deal.  The announcement came fairly late in the evening, as the Capitals and Tom Wilson agreed upon a 6-year, $31 million deal, which works out to be roughly a $5.17 million cap hit per season.

Wilson is a multi-faceted kind of player, as he was not only pool worthy in the scoring department, finishing with 14 goals and 35 points in 78 regular season games played, but he is also the resident tough guy on the team, leading the team and 2nd in the league for penalty minutes with 187.

He is a fairly hard-working player and a guy that teammates love to play with, so there is value there, but the $5 million range per season does seem a bit steep.  Only Dustin Byfuglien makes more per season among those who collected more than 100 penalty minutes last season, but there are a decent collection of cap hits in that list as well.  Only one other player in that group was pool worthy, Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

We are moving into projections season and I'm not overly convinced that Wilson will keep up his 35-point pace exactly, but playing on the top line from time-to-time certainly helps his cause.  Keeping him at that 35-point range might be the compromise I have, between not believing he can do it again and playing on the top line.  He's the type of guy you pick, however, if you are hoping that the PIM pool reemerges as a mini-game, once the wheel spins.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Alex Ovechkin 9.538 John Carlson 8.000 Braden Holtby 5.100
Evgeny Kuznetsov 7.800 Matt Niskanen 5.750 Ilya Samsonov 0.925
Nicklas Backstrom 6.700 Dmitry Orlov 5.100
T.J. Oshie 5.750 Michal Kempny 2.500
Tom Wilson 5.167 Madison Bowey 1.000
Lars Eller 3.500 Brooks Orpik 1.000
Andre Burakovsky 3.000 Christian Djoos 0.650
Brett Connolly 1.500
Devante Smith-Pelly 1.000
Shane Gersich 0.925
Hampus Gustafsson 0.884
Jakub Vrana 0.863
Chandler Stephenson 0.650
Nathan Walker 0.650

The Capitals don't have much left to spend, bu that's okay, their free agent list is now wiped off of everyone important.  The current 23-man roster they have above is now coming in with only $1.5 million to spare and they could probably swap out some of those more expensive bubble players for someone a little cheaper to pinch those pennies.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Jarry Re-Signs in Pittsburgh

If we learned anything about the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending situation last season, it was that no one was particularly a lock for the spot, especially in the second half of the season.  Fortunately for Tristan Jarry, he did get enough reps in the crease to put his stamp on being pool worthy, hence the big blog post today.

On Thursday, Jarry and the Penguins came to terms on a new 2-year deal, which will carry a cap hit of $675,000 per season and for now, he would have to be considered the favourite for the backup job at the start of the season.  His counterpart in the position, Casey DeSmith, didn't get nearly as many reps, but did get a string of starts when Matt Murray was hurt and does carry the same cap hit as Jarry for next season, so we'll have to wait until training camp to know for sure.

In terms of numbers, Jarry was pretty solid, finishing with 14 wins and 34 points in 26 appearances with the club last year, good enough for 40th overall among all goalies.  That's a top 10 backup, in theory.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Evgeni Malkin 9.500 Kris Letang 7.250 Matt Murray 3.750
Sidney Crosby 8.700 Justin Schultz 5.500 Tristan Jarry 0.675
Phil Kessel 6.800 Brian Dumoulin 4.100
Patric Hornqvist 5.300 Olli Maatta 4.083
Carl Hagelin 4.000 Jack Johnson 3.250
Bryan Rust 3.500 Jamie Oleksiak 2.138
Derick Brassard 3.000 Chad Ruhwedel 0.650
Riley Sheahan 2.100
Zach Aston-Reese 0.925
Dominik Simon 0.750
Daniel Sprong 0.750
Jake Guentzel 0.734
Matt Cullen 0.650
Derek Grant 0.650

The Penguins have to be close to closing up shop on this off-season, with only a couple of minor restricted free agents left to work out, I don't see this team adding anything more to their roster.  Even if they wanted to, it is going to be difficult, with only $745,000 left in cap space, with this 23-man roster above.  I think we can start working on the projections with what we've got here.

Wild and Zucker Come to Terms

The Minnesota Wild took care of their last pool worthy free agent on Wednesday, signing restricted free agent forward Jason Zucker to a 5-year, $27.5 million deal.

The 26-year old broke out in the 2018 season, scoring 33 goals and 64 points in all 82 games for the Wild, finishing 65th overall in hockey pool scoring, 48th among all forwards.  Needless to say, his stock went up immensely in the season and the team rewarded him for his efforts with this new long-term deal.

With a new contract in hand, it will now be more a question of whether or not he can keep up that scoring pace.  The Wild haven't made many drastic changes to their lineup for the coming season, so it could be fair to assume that he could keep up the 33-goal pace, but teams will be keeping a much closer eye on him, most certainly.  For that, I am going to temper my expectations on him, suggesting more like a 55-point season is more likely, but he certainly has the upside to be a bargain pick, if he slides down the draft, due to a lack of real notoriety.

Dallas Re-Ups Janmark

On Wednesday, the Dallas Stars agreed on a new deal with Mattias Janmark, signing the 25-year old Swede to a new 1-year, $2.3 million deal.

Janmark had himself a pretty good bounce back season with the Stars in 2018, after missing the 2017 season due to injury, playing in 81 games, scoring 19 goals and 34 points.  He was the 182nd ranked forward in the hockey pool ranks and he's certainly on the upswing in his career trajectory.

The 1-year deal is somewhat shorter than expected, but it does offer the Stars a little more flexibility for next summer, when they get to renegotiate his deal.

With this signing now under wraps, the Stars are offering a pretty strong offensive lineup on paper and expectations are likely going to be pretty high for most of their top players.  I am projecting a 40-point season for Janmark and more points for some of his teammates in the coming year.  I am getting the feeling that the Stars will be a popular team at the draft this year.

Dan Hamhuis Returns to Nashville

The Nashville Predators gave themselves a blast from the past, signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Dan Hamhuis to a 2-year, $2.5 million deal on Wednesday.

Hamhuis was originally drafted by the Predators in the 2001 entry draft and played six seasons with the club before moving on.  His new deal is of the 35+ variety, but with a cap hit of $1.25 million per season, it wouldn't be a huge burden, if he wasn't able to finish the deal for whatever reason.

The 35-year old played the 2018 season with the Dallas Stars and was still fairly productive, picking up 3 goals and 24 points in 80 games, which was good enough for 78th among all defensemen.

One would have to assume that the role that he would be taking on, will be somewhat of a lesser one, especially with a top four that already includes P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis.  Still, even as a 5-6 defenseman, Hamhuis could still play a valuable role with the team, which isn't too far away from returning to the Cup Finals in the next year or two.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Afternoon Fringe Signings (Jul 25)

On Wednesday, the Calgary Flames announced the signings of two restricted free agents, forward Mark Jankowski and defenseman Brett Kulak.  Jankowski signed a 2-year, $3.35 million deal, while Kulak was awarded a 1-year, $900,000 deal in arbitration.

Jankowski finally played in his first full season with the Flames in the 2018 season, playing in 72 games, scoring 17 goals and 25 points.  That was good enough for 244th among all forwards in scoring and as a 23-year old, he should be less prone to the sophomore slump, but I wouldn't rule it out completely.  Early projections will probably have him in the 25-to-30 point range to start the year.

The 24-year old Kulak found his way through the arbitration process on Monday, getting a decision after a year where he had 2 goals and 8 points in 71 games for the Flames, putting him well back at 189th in defenseman scoring on the year.  He should have a leg up on some guys at camp, but he could just as easily be considered a bubble player too right now.

The Vancouver Canucks signed their last key restricted free agent on Wednesday, giving forward Jake Virtanen a 2-year, $2.5 million deal.

The 21-year old, just coming out of his entry-level deal, earned himself a decent bridge deal after playing in 75 games for the Canucks, scoring 10 goals and 20 points.  It might not be the numbers that they were expecting, but he's slowly coming along at the top level now and he'll likely get some decent opportunities to improve in the coming year.  I'll project him for a 30-point year, when the numbers come out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ducks & Montour Agree on Deal

It didn't sound like either side really wanted to go through the arbitration process, so both the Anaheim Ducks and defenseman Brandon Montour went through the negotiation process, right through to the 11th hour and they came to terms as the clock was winding down.  The two sides agreed upon a 2-year, $6.775 million deal, foregoing the need of going through the pros and cons of the player's game.

Montour broke out in a big way in the 2018 season, somewhat out of nowhere, playing in 80 games for Anaheim and picking up 9 goals and 32 points in the process, good enough to be 47th among all defenders in scoring.  He did play in 27 games in the 2017 season, registering 6 points and I did have him projected to be a 20-point player for last season and he certain exceeded the expectations of this humble blog and now his numbers are likely going to soar.

After his first full season, I might still keep some tempered expectations, likely in the 35-point range, but there is certainly some real promise in his game and I think he could be a good fit to your hockey pool team, if you get the chance to snap him up.

The Ducks still have some work to do in this off-season, with the likes of Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie among the RFAs of note and the team is running out of cap space, sitting at $5.5 million with a full 23-man roster on the books.

Morning Fringe Signings (Jul 24)

On Tuesday morning, the St. Louis Blues announced that they re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Joel Edmundson, giving him a 1-year, $3 million deal.  The deal sees the two sides avoid an arbitration hearing, which was scheduled to go on Wednesday.

The 25-year old is right on the brink of being a hockey pool worthy defenseman, finishing with 7 goals and 17 points in 69 games last season, ranking 112th among all defensemen.  With a few more games under his belt on the season, he could have certainly lifted his way up into the top 100. 

With some of the moves the Blues have made this summer, there's a chance that we could see their depth improve their numbers, so they could be ones to keep an eye out for at the draft.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Islanders Avoid Arbitration With Nelson

The New York Islanders re-signed their last key restricted free agent on Monday afternoon, giving forward Brock Nelson a 1-year, $4.25 million deal.

Nelson, 26, had arbitration rights and had a hearing booked for August 3rd, but the two sides came together long before they had to go through the nasty process of making their case for their side.

In the 2018 season, Nelson regressed in his scoring numbers, dropping down to 19 goals and 35 points in all 82 games from 45 points in 81 games the season previous.  He was still pool worthy, ranking 170th among all forwards on the year, but his value has dropped a little bit.

The early projections for him will meet somewhere in the middle, as the lineup shuffles to the loss of John Tavares in this off-season.  Nelson found himself playing a lot with Andrew Ladd last season, which may or may not change, but it's hard to see where the offense really is going to stem from on a consistent basis in Brooklyn during the 2019 season.

Forwards Cap Defense Cap Goalies Cap
Jordan Eberle 6.000 Johnny Boychuk 6.000 Thomas Greiss 3.333
Andrew Ladd 5.500 Nick Leddy 5.500 Robin Lehner 1.500
Josh Bailey 5.000 Thomas Hickey 2.500
Brock Nelson 4.250 Ryan Pulock 2.000
Anders Lee 3.750 Adam Pelech 1.600
Cal Clutterbuck 3.500 Scott Mayfield 1.450
Casey Cizikas 3.350 Sebastian Aho 0.770
Leo Komarov 3.000
Valtteri Filppula 2.750
Matt Martin 2.500
Jan Kovar 2.000
Ross Johnston 1.000
Anthony Beauvillier 0.894
Mathew Barzal 0.863

There's a big lump of salary cap space left on the board for the Islanders today, as I am showing the team with $10.5 million in space, which was probably earmarked for someone special this summer. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Trouba's Case Decided Upon

We have one of our first arbitration awards of the off-season on Sunday, as the Winnipeg Jets and Jacob Trouba sought out some help to resolute their contract negotiations.  In the end, the arbitrator took both asking amounts and met them right in the middle, meaning that the team and the 24-year old blueliner came to terms on a 1-year, $5.5 million deal.

Trouba put up some pretty good numbers, despite missing a solid number of games in the 2018 regular season.  In 55 games, he scored 3 goals and 24 points, which was still good enough to have him ranked 79th among all defensemen in scoring.  He did miss 20 games to a lower-body injury and another five games to a concussion in the season, but he was able to return for the playoffs, where the Jets put on a pretty good run.

With this signing now on the books, the Jets continue to run a pretty impressive blueline, but it certainly comes with a cost after today.  Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Dmitry Kulikov and now Trouba on the books are coming in at $22.9 million.

The Jets probably could have used a little bit more help from the arbitrator in this case though, as they are now running with only $8.9 million in cap space for the rest of the season, they still need to re-sign Josh Morrissey and they still have some depth players to look at before the start of camp too.  The salary cap crunch may come a little faster than the Jets may have been expecting.

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.