UFA breakdowns: The "I get it" version
There was a lot of free agent action yesterday via signings and trades. According to Cap Friendly there were 121 signings yesterday. They totaled 234 years. The contracts were worth $700,874,001(!). Some big names are switching teams and some of it I get and some of it I don’t. In this blog I’m going to talk about the teams I get.
Pretty much everything they’ve done has been a breath of fresh air in a sport so scared of trying to accumulate the largest number of talented players. Just listen to their general manager
Yeah, that must be nice. Lou Lamoriello left Kyle Dubas some bad contracts and Dubas aggressively got rid of them so he could create cap space to get better ones. It doesn’t matter that the Leafs spent a first round pick to get rid of Patrick Marleau. His 6M cap hit is gone. Nikita Zaitsev and his wasted 4.5M for the next five years? Gone. Connor Brown’s 2.1M as a role player? Gone. It has allowed Dubas to sign Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson to team friendly deals. It has allowed him the flexibility to trade from a position of strength bringing in Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot from the Avalanche. They still have Mitch Marner to deal with, but the thing about asking for too much money as an RFA is that the other teams have to not only give him the cap hit, but the four first round picks as compensation. Offer sheets are best used for mid-range players on capped out teams.
They lost a very good player in Kadri, but they have Alex Kerfoot and Jason Spezza holding down the third and fourth lines. They'll be OK.
Anyways the Maple Leafs continue to get better and the past few weeks have been great for them.
They’ve come a long way since Patrick Roy was involved with player personnel decisions. Joe Sakic has surrounded himself with people who are very smart and he is clearly taking their input on things. The Avalanche are on quite a hot streak and went from bottom feeders to contenders in a few short years. Yesterday they signed one of the better value players in Joonas Donskoi to help fill their forward depth and then really went after filling a hole they’ve had for a while. They needed a second line center and got a really good one in Nazem Kadri. They traded from a position of strength on defense to shore up a positional need for three more seasons. Tyson Barrie wasn’t going to be around long term. They got ahead of it and acquired a need instead. Trading from a position of strength was achieved through the draft as they Cale Makar and Bo Byram to lean on for many years. Sam Girard is no slouch either.
The Avalanche also have the most cap space in the league even after their improvements. They are in a great spot moving forward.
New York Rangers
They got the best player on the market and paid fair value. Artemi Panarin is an awesome player and by getting him the Rangers are re-tooling on the fly and doing a pretty damn good job at it. Getting Panarin and Jacob Trouba is quite the haul over the offseason and all it cost them was a Neal Pionk and a first round pick in acquisition fees. There are no bottom feeders in the Metropolitan Division at the moment.
They got their cap space from PK Subban and they used it on Matt Duchene. Duchene obviously had his heart set on playing in Nashville because he definitely could have gotten more than the 8M per year he’s getting there. Nashville’s defense is still going to be plenty good enough to get the forwards the puck and now they have another dynamic talent up front.
Timo Meier was the best contract signed yesterday. He’s a great player and getting him at the 6M price point the next four years is a great thing for the Sharks. He’s 22 years old and is only going to get better. I’m also going to lump in the Erik Karlsson extension. The Sharks chose to take a gamble on Karlsson instead of Joe Pavelski and I think that is understandable even with Pavelski’s long tenure with the team. Doug Wilson has done a very nice job keeping this window open for as long as he has. It isn’t easy work.
Wayne Simmonds for one year and 5M isn’t a great contract, but if you’re the Devils with a ton of cap space why not? If Simmonds plays well for the Devils and they are contending then they have another good player to help contend. If he’s playing well and the team is not contending they can trade him because he is a pending UFA. If he plays terrible it doesn’t matter because it is only a one-year contract and didn’t prevent the Devils from making other moves. Ray Shero has always done a nice job with not giving out crazy term. It’s why when he was fired from the Penguins the situation was still salvageable for Jim Rutherford.
Not big moves by any means, but they need to keep chipping away at their depth and by acquiring Jimmy Vesey they get some secondary scoring. They took advantage of Vegas’ firesale and got Colin Miller for the reasonable price of a 2nd and a 5th. By getting Miller and Brandon Montour they have opened the door to trading Rasmus Ristolainen. His perceived value eclipses his real value and there is potential to do really well by dealing him. The Ristolainen trade will be the key to Buffalo’s summer and now they have some better depth to make it happen.
Bonus points to the Sabres for not completing the hat trick of paying another former Islander for past performance. They already went down that road with Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo and were rumored to be in on Anders Lee.
They need to compete now and their moves fall in line with that. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are towards the end, or past, their peak powers. The roster needs some filling out so Jim Nill got some veteran help. Joe Pavelski at 7M at his age is certainly a risk, but when you are in the win now window sometimes you take the plunge to fill the need. Corey Perry and Andrei Sekera are low risk signings that might be able to fill a need. No harm there due to the term being only a single year.
This one I think could go in either category but I’m going to put it here because I respect the fact somebody finally gave out an offer sheet. I can appreciate that Montreal tried to swing their financial might at the Hurricanes by savagely loading up on the signing bonuses. If Carolina matches the contract they will have to pay Aho 21M in cash in the first 12 months. However, the Candadiens kept the total compensation $1,000 less than the threshold to where they would owe another first round pick. They should have loaded up the bonuses and the total value. Who cares about that first round pick? Are they going to become the next Sebastian Aho? Not likely. So I appreciate the structure of the signing bonuses, the fact that they made the offer, but they didn’t execute it in a way that will land them the player.
Mid-tier RFA’s are probably the best targets for the offer sheets. Find a capped out team and offer their guy a decent salary. Hello Nikita Gusev.
Offer sheet is apparently off the table for Gusev, but teams should be lining up to trade for his rights. Vegas is still over a barrel.
Stay tuned for the "I don't get it"
Thanks for reading!