Last weekend, the Anaheim Ducks took a decent gamble.
With a $6.4 million cap hit, goaltender John Gibson will become one of the priciest netminders when his new extension kicks in at the start of the 2019-20 NHL season.
While the number is somewhat palatable for a true starting netminder - and one who’s put up Vezina numbers recently - the term is what made a few people slightly gun-shy about the whole ordeal.
With eight years added on to the term, Gibson is locked up for the Ducks for the next nine seasons, making him one of just two goaltenders (the other being Carey Price) who are already locked up through the 2024-25 season. [InGoal Magazine]
It’s a bit of a shocking move, given how gun-shy teams tend to be about giving goaltenders term.
For the Avalanche, though, it could make their move to sign Grubauer for just $3.33 million per season for the next three years look particularly smart. If he manages to pan out as even a 1B goaltender for the Avalanche, he’ll already be one of the most cost-effective names in net in the Western Conference. And as teams start to crowd up against the cap, contenders like the Ducks will have far less wiggle room at a crucial position.
Gibson was one of just six contracts signed during the last week and change; by this point in the offseason, the deals have slowed to a trickle.
Apart from an entry-level deal for Isac Lundeström and a free agent deal for minor league forward Chase Balisy, though, the other three deals were fairly significant for each of their teams.
First, the Vegas Golden Knights took a huge gamble with center William Karlsson, re-signing the standout forward to a one-year deal worth just $5.25 million.
It’s a somewhat smart move for Vegas, since they’ll still retain Karlsson’s rights when the deal is up this coming spring. And if the Swedish-born forward sees his production drop off after shooting at nearly 24% last season - a league-leading high that helped to put him nearly in contention for the Rocket Richard - then they won’t have locked up a player who had an outlier year for more than he’s worth.
If Karlsson’s offensive breakout was the real deal, though, they’ll be expected to truly shell out some cash - not just for his worth, but to make up for paying him a bargain (relatively speaking) in his first two years with the team. Any team discount he would have been willing to take likely went out the window when they inked him to a bridge deal off a year with career-high production, which makes it a calculated risk. [ESPN]
The next two deals were each chancy in their own right, as well, although not quite as much of a gamble as either of the first two big ones.
First, the Arizona Coyotes locked up Christian Dvorak a full year before he was due for a new deal. He’s now in the desert for the next seven years, signing a six-year extension worth $4.45 million per season set to kick in after this coming year.
The deal was somewhat polarizing, because it banks a bit on Dvorak continuing to improve and on the Coyotes seeing him keep pace as the entire club gets better. Right now, his stats are relatively strong on their team, but his possession numbers don’t stand out on a league-wide scale -meaning some have argued he could fail to live up to the hype once paired with a more competitive roster. And although he immediately posted a 15-goal season as an NHL rookie (and straight out of juniors, as well), he only matched his goal total and added four points last year, going from 33 points to 37.
At best, the 22-year-old is set to improve, and even a jump from 15 goals and 35-ish points to 20 goals and 40-50 points makes him worth the money. If his performance during his age-20 and -21 seasons are exactly what he’s destined to be, though, it’s an overpayment - and for a long time. [The Hockey News]
The other big deal was a similar center, albeit at the end of his own entry-level deal and off of a breakout season.
Dylan Larkin inked a five-year deal with Detroit on August 9th, clocking in at $6.1 millon per season and set to kick in this coming year.
Drafted 15th overall by Detroit in 2014, Larkin seemed like the steal of his draft class when he posted 47 points in just 35 games his first year of college hockey - but in his first pro season, his 23 goals only served to make up for a somewhat underwhelming 45 points that pushed him out of Calder contention. He further struggled in his sophomore season, dropping to just 17 goals and 32 points - putting Dvorak’s 37-point sophomore campaign right on par with Larkin - but then redeemed himself this past year, dropping to just 16 goals but elevating his playmaking to post 47 assists.
The good news is that his sophomore slump seems to have been shaken off, which Detroit badly needed to happen. He’ll need to step into the face of the franchise role full-time as Henrik Zetterberg fully enters his twilight years, though. [Free Press]
For a feel-good story, we have to add this (because really, who isn’t rooting for this guy?)
For more on how Straschnitzki has been doing, this is an excellent read on his journey. [Manitoba Post]
Finally, go ahead and debate this in the comments:
I don’t even think it’s worth explaining how I feel about this.
This is stupid.