Topics in this edition of the mailbag include CBA discussion, Chicago’s veteran defensemen, arbitration walkaway rules, which key RFA will be next to sign, Florida’s offseason spending spree, the Patrick Marleau trade, Jake Allen’s trade value, the slow summer for the Kings, Pat Maroon’s future with St. Louis, and the failed Nazem Kadri to Calgary trade.
This is the back half of our mailbag covering the questions from two weeks ago. Click here to read the first half.
@K9GY: When RFA & GM are at different salary numbers….the easy way to solve it is….make base salary at lowest dollar figure and the rest performance based…
It’s a bit of a unique idea but it’s not one that is permissible in the CBA. Article 50.2(C)(2) of the CBA states that the only players that are eligible for performance incentives in a contract are as follows:
(i) Players with Entry Level SPCs under Article 9 of this Agreement;
(ii) Players aged 35 or older as of June 30 prior to the League Year in which the SPC is to be effective, who have signed a one-year SPC for that League Year; and
(iii) Players who are “400-plus game Players” for pension purposes, and who: (i) in the last year of their most recent SPC, spent 100 days or more on the Injured Reserve List; and (ii) have signed a one-year SPC for the current or upcoming League Year.
Restricted free agents don’t fall into any of those categories so the idea of a bonus-laden deal with minimal guarantees isn’t an option here. It’s also hard to think the NHLPA would sign off to putting something like this in the next agreement either.
skogs14: What’s the likelihood that the Blackhawks find a taker for Keith/Seabrook or Anisimov? What kind of return could you expect?
These players can be put into three separate categories. Not only could Chicago find a taker for Duncan Keith, they’d also get a good return. He’s not a true number one option anymore but he can still play top-pairing minutes and at a $5.538MM cap hit, he isn’t really hurting a team cap wise. That could change over the final four years of his contract but there is still tangible trade value right now (a top-four defender plus another asset at a minimum) if they wanted to deal him. That said, I don’t think they want to.
As for Brent Seabrook, they’d probably like to get out from under that contract. He’s more of a number four option at this point and with five years left at $6.875MM per, that’s not a deal any team is going to want to assume.
A week ago when I originally had this question answered, I had Artem Anisimov as being the most likely to be dealt when his $2MM signing bonus was paid. That wound up happening. I thought they’d be able to get a mid-round pick or similar prospect as well as a player back. That didn’t quite happen as they wound up with just Zack Smith (and, perhaps more importantly, $1.3MM in cap space). It’s an okay deal for them as Smith fits better in the role that Anisimov was likely to fill but they certainly lost the more talented player in the swap.
Greg S: For teams up closes to the cap ceiling, what happens if an RFA with arbitration rights is given more money than the team can spend, or would force a trade to be made in order to have him on the team? Can the team refuse to sign him? Or would you have to sign them, then waive them?
Teams do have an option to walk away from a player if they feel an arbitration award is too high although there are rules on how they’re used. The threshold for 2019 is $4,397,832; the amount increases annually by the percentage increase to the league minimum salary in the preceding season. Teams are also limited by the number of arbitration awards to their players. For teams with one or two awards, they can only walk away from one. Three or four awards opens up a second walkaway option while a team with five awards (which is extremely rare) has access to three walkaways.
There’s still hope for teams where the award falls under that threshold though. Teams can go over the salary cap by 10% (though there are special rules for what counts against that cap…I’ll spare you the minutia of that one) so even if an award puts a team over the Upper Limit, they’d still have a couple of months to make a corresponding move as they don’t have to be in cap compliance until right before the regular season gets underway.
pawtucket: Who will be the first high-profile RFA to sign (not named Aho)? Are they all playing the waiting game to see who gets what for leverage?
I figured it was going to be a long game of chicken all summer long and Sebastian Aho signing quickly doesn’t really affect that all that much other than giving teams a bit of a baseline to work with. The only leverage at this point is to not sign and hope the other side gives in which is another reason why a lot of these deals are going to drag out this summer.
As for who may be the next one to sign, I think it’s going to be a defenseman. There are enough forwards out there that there are going to be a lot of comparables to work with. That isn’t the case on the back end as Charlie McAvoy and Zach Werenski are the only top pairing ones that remain unsigned.
So I’ll take Werenski for being the next to sign. Columbus has plenty of cap space and with so many pricey players leaving, they have the ability to frontload a contract without worrying about how it affects their overall budget. He’s basically in a class of his own this summer (there is a drop-off between him and McAvoy) so there shouldn’t necessarily be a desire to wait it out to see what others get. It may still take some time but he’ll get a deal done before the other forwards do.
Mark Black: Are the additions of Bobrovsky, Connolly, and Quenneville and a full uninjured season of Trocheck enough to get the Panthers back in the playoffs? And how much will they regret that Bobrovsky contract next year when they are paying goaltenders 13+ million and still need to re-sign or replace Montembeault, Hoffman, Weegar, and Dadonov?
Let’s add Anton Stralman to that list of additions as well. I know his contract has been ridiculed for the high price tag but he brings some stability to a back end that hasn’t had a whole lot of it.
I’m confident in calling them a playoff team. It may just be a Wild Card spot but they should be a pretty safe bet to get in. Sergei Bobrovsky is worth several wins on his own, even if he plays like he did with Columbus in the regular season last year (below his usual level of performance). Assuming the team stays healthy, that’s probably enough to get them in right there.
Then there’s the offense which is among the best in the East. This was a top-ten group despite Vincent Trocheck’s injuries last season and it’s basically the same group coming back. Even if Mike Hoffman takes a bit of a step back after a career year, the continued development of players like Trocheck, Aleksander Barkov, and Jonathan Huberdeau should help offset that. They’ll be in good shape.
As for a year from now, I don’t see Samuel Montembeault looking for much of a raise. To be honest, I don’t think he’s in the NHL next season and that their backup goalie isn’t currently in the organization (they’re poised to jump on the waiver-eligible youngsters if they so desire). MacKenzie Weegar’s next deal shouldn’t be too pricey either. Yes, they’ll probably be forced to pick to keep only one of Mike Hoffman or Evgeni Dadonov but to get a franchise goalie, that’s an acceptable price to pay next summer.