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Matt Cane of HockeyGraphs recently released his annual contract projections for pending free agents
, be it unrestricted or restricted.
His model takes into account production, ice time, usage, etc. and comes up with numbers based on what comparable players have fetched on their deals.
It's not always going to be right but generally it's pretty accurate. For example, Cane's model projected Evander Kane would sign for ~$7.3 million annually. The latter signed for $7 million.
With the New Jersey Devils having 10 players in need of new contracts – not all of them will come from the Devils, obviously – I thought it'd be fun to take a look at their projected contracts and offer some thoughts.
We'll start with the biggest tickets and work our way down.
W Patrick Maroon – four years, $5.28M per
If that's what it takes to get Maroon extended, I walk away without thinking twice. He brings some elements to the game the Devils aren't exactly overflowing with but that is a ton of money for a complimentary player. I think the term is in the right ball park. I think the money will be closer to $4 million, although you never know in free agency. These guys always get paid.
W Michael Grabner – four years, $3.82M per
This sounds about right. As tough as the year ended for Grabner, he still scored 27 goals. This after *checks notes* scoring 27 goals in 2016-17. He's fast, he kills penalties, and he can put a few pucks in the net. He's going to get a decent amount of coin. I'd be surprised if it came from the Devils, though.
D John Moore – two years, $3.4M per
I expect Moore's camp to push for a little more term but, again, the money sounds right. Moore is a really good skater coming off a season where he logged 20 minutes per game on a playoff team. Somebody will pay for that, especially given the free agent crop is so thin on the back end. I don't think the Devils will be the team to pay up, nor should they be
W Miles Wood – two years, $1.9M per
Wood scored 19 goals while averaging ~12:30 per game. He was one of the most efficient 5v5 goal scorers in the league
and his underlying numbers sky rocketed relative to where they were a year ago. He has his faults – inconsistent, takes too many penalties, etc. – but he's very deserving of a raise. I think $2M per on a short-term deal makes sense. See if he can reach another level over the next couple years and act accordingly.
W Blake Coleman – two years, $1.49M per
Coleman chipped in 25 points while providing stout defensive play and some physicality. In the playoffs he was actually one of the team's better forwards. While I expect Coleman's annual salary will come in a little higher, Cane's projections seem to be on the right track again here.
D Steven Santini – one year, $1.36M
Santini had a really weird year. The Devils handed him the toughest assignments on the team for the longest time. Then they flipped a switch and banished him to the AHL as if his presence was a disgrace to the roster. Maybe the money is a bit high. Maybe it's not. I do think a short-term deal is the best route for both sides.
W Stefan Noesen – two years, $1.23M per
Pretty much everything I said about Coleman can be applied to Noesen. His point totals were almost identical and he fared quite well in a checking role. He wasn't a regular on the penalty kill while Coleman was and excelled in that role. As such, I agree with Cane's projections that Noesen will come in a little cheaper.
W Drew Stafford – one year, $900K
If Stafford wants to extend his NHL career, he's looking at another cheap, one-year deal to be a rotational forward and provide #leadership. I expect he'll latch on with a young team not expecting to do a whole lot.
W Jimmy Hayes – one year, $744K
I think Hayes might be finished. He can't skate and, well, that's a pretty big part of today's NHL. If he somehow lands another NHL deal, he's looking at close to the minimum.
Note: Brian Gibbons is not listed in the database. I think he'll be looking for more than $650K, as he should be, on a multi-year deal and the Devils shouldn't be the team that gives it to him.
Revisiting my 2017-18 Eastern Conference predictions
The Devils should target Calvin de Haan
Devils sign Egor Yakovlev
Michael McLeod's 19-year-old season was a disappointment
Could the Devils trade Damon Severson?
Miles Wood drastically improved in 2017-18
The Devils should let Brian Gibbons test free agency
Pavel Zacha has been one of NHL's best penalty killers since entering the league
It's time to walk away from John Moore