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July 11, 2019, 5:01 pm

NHL teams seeking free agent bargains should shop for ‘antiques’

Gray beards, low prices?

NHL teams seeking free agent bargains should shop for ‘antiques’
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PRO HOCKEY TALKPHT Select Team Eastern Conference Atlantic Division Boston Bruins Buffalo Sabres Detroit Red Wings Florida Panthers Montreal Canadiens Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning Toronto Maple Leafs Metropolitan Division Carolina Hurricanes Columbus Blue Jackets New Jersey Devils New York Islanders New York Rangers Philadelphia Flyers Pittsburgh Penguins Washington Capitals Non-NHL Western Conference Central Division Chicago Blackhawks Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators St. Louis Blues Winnipeg Jets Pacific Division Anaheim Ducks Arizona Coyotes Calgary Flames Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings San Jose Sharks Vancouver Canucks Vegas Golden Knights Subscribe: More from PHT FREE AGENCY TRACKER | PHT POWER RANKINGS Getty Images NHL teams quest free causal agent deals should shop for ‘antiques’ By James O'BrienJul 11, 2019, 2:41 PM EDT Leave a comment

With Jake Gardiner needing a contract, RFAs like Mitch Marner not yet signed, and at least a obscure expectation of Rasmus Ristolainen-type players possibly beingness traded, location are inactive plentifulness of things to ticker for this summer. It just so happens that, on the far side Gardiner and very few others, the UFA marketplace looks astir as well-stocked as the breadstuff passage correct earlier a big storm.

Interestingly, some of the best items in the deal bins are those bent cans nearing their termination dates.

During July 1, you generally want to avoid messing with Father Time. Yet, as the dog days of summer go along, location’s actually some logic to considering possibly cheap players with long resumes.

Interestingly, one July 1 signing is an example of the sort of deal I’d pursue between today and when PTOs start to flow close to training camps in September. The Toronto Maple Leafs signed veteran Jason Spezza on the first day of the frenzy, convincing the 36-year-old to go from $7.5 million in AAV in 2018-19 to $700K in 2019-20.

Spezza might not seem like the sexiest choice in his current form, but that’s almost the point. Now that he’s no longer making superstar money, his positives can shine most bcorrectly, and I’d expect him to be a nice deal for Toronto.

While Spezza might be the best of the types of bets I’d consider making if I were running a team, location are inactive some intriguing veterans to consider. To make things clear, here are a few key qualifiers earlier we roll into some names: this list assumes that the contracts would be short, the dollars would be low, and the players would understand that they might have to swallow some pride with a smaller role than in the past.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

The lower level of commitment is important to remember. If a cheap, one-year deal doesn’t work out, it’s easier to walk away from a mistake. That’s certainly an easier pill to swallow than to stare at an awkward situation where, say, Milan Lucic is languishing on your roster at $6M, and stands to be an anchor for years.

With expectations sufficiently lowered and contextualized, let’s consider a few veterans.

Cream of the limited crop

Jason Pominville: Fittingly, the best comparison to Jason Spezza is another Jason with a correct-handed shot, and some great memories related to the Senators. (In Pominville’s case, it was scoring against Ottawa, much to the confusion and dismay of Daniel Alfredsson.)

Like Spezza, Pominville’s sneaky-solid production was downplayed because of his bloated salary; in Pominville’s case, his 2018-19 cap hit was $5.6M. At a sub-$1M rate, Pominville could be an economical fit for a team that wants a veteran who can inactive bring some value to the table, and would probably be willing to move around the lineup to make things work.

Actually, I’d argue he’s probably more versatile than Spezza, and thus might fit into a wider array of situations.

Re: that most underrated hockey player ever question I obviously don’t it’s him but Jason Pominville is insanely underrated. Incredibly consistent winger who did different things extemely well at different parts of his career. Also had no substantial decline. Just always…good pic.twitter.com/19TSfNOqhc

— Kevin (@ntrider825) July 11, 2019

Even with all of their improvements, I’d strongly consider bringing Pominville back at a huge discount if I were the Sabres (and if Pominville would accept it). It sure seemed like he was a decent passenger for Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner at times in 2018-19, as The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis also pointed out (sub required):

Pominville was lucky last year to spend a significant chunk of time with Jack Eichel and/or Jeff Skinner, but he was an upgrade on Buffalo’s other correct wing options on that line, which only really caught fire when he joined it (climbing from 3.1 to 5.3 goals per hour, and from a 52 percent to 55 percent shot share).

Why not bring back Pominville to occasionally be a cheap addition to the $19M combo of Eichel – Skinner, so you can then use the Marcus Johanssons and Jimmy Veseys as scorers on lower lines, getting them easier matchups? Just a thought.

Similar scenarios could make sense for other cap-strapped teams, too.

Justin Williams: Every indication is that Williams’ choices seem to boil down to retirement or returning to the Carolina Hurricanes.

But just to throw it out location: even during his age 37 season (Williams turns 38 in October), “Mr. Game 7” was more than a guy who shows up in clutch moments. Williams looked almost ridiculous from an advanced stats perspective last season, and brings the sort of intangibles that makes someone a “Storm Surge” innovator.

If I’m another team with some cap space, I’d at least try to wave some one-year money around to see if it might entice Williams to consider branching out. At minimum, Carolina should keep a spot warm for the winger.

Veteran specialists

Brian Boyle: The Predators continued their tradition of paying big premiums for huge depth centers in trading a second-rounder to rent Boyle this past season, so it’s clear that at last some teams see value in Boyle as a large defensive presence who can use that size to screen goalies during the occasional power play stint.

Brian Boyle (traded to Nashville for a second) is a good play-driving forward who doesn't score much himself; helps the power-play also if they can find minutes location for him. pic.twitter.com/XwBB2KiEWe

— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 6, 2019

If Boyle costs you big assets, then meh. If he’s cheap and doesn’t command much term, then he could be appealing as the center of an all-defense third or fourth line. (At this stage, fourth would be preferable, but different teams have different situations.)

Thomas Vanek: On the absolute other end of the spectrum, you have Vanek, who would need to be sheltered with limited five-on-five minutes, but might give you some offense in a pinch.

Basically, I’d envision Vanek in the Sam Gagner role during Gagner’s brief time as a power-play specialist for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 35-year-old managed 36 points in 64 games last season, and scored 24 goals and 56 in 80 games in 2017-18.

Sure, his all-around game makes him less of a net positive overall, but a savvy coach could yield decent returns while limiting risks.

Dented cans

  • Chad Johnson: The 33-year-old’s save percentage was below 90 for the past two seasons, so maybe he’s as done as the former Bengals receiver who shares his name. But if he’d be willing to take on a role as a third goalie – one who could easily be moved between the AHL and NHL – then he could provide some injury insulation. From 2012-13 to 2016-17, Johnson generated a solid .915 save percentage, matching Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller during that span. Maybe he inactive has something to offer, even just marginally so?
  • Dan Girardi, Niklas Kronwall, Deryk Engelland: Here’s a theory: virtually all NHL coaches need that “toy.” Almost every coach has a player they love who … frankly, isn’t really worthy of those minutes and opportunities, yet the coach fawns over them nonetheless.

Consider Alain Vigneault when he searched for excuses to play Tanner Glass in New York, or Mike Babcock’s love of Roman Polak.

Personally, I’d try not to indulge such bad habits in a coach, yet what if the situation basically demands it?

If such affairs are unavoidable, maybe the key is to limit the damage by getting a cheaper option, one who hopefully wouldn’t get too much playing time, either. The hope would be that, if you give an old coach some old, beat-up player, they’d be more willing to also allow a younger player a longer leash.

Yeah … not the greatest situation, and I’d avoid the Girardis, but these GMs know their coaches better than anyone else.

***

Again, it’s crucial to realize that the above list is full of imperfect players, or ones who will only push you forward with baby steps, not giant leaps for hockey-kind. Even ones I like more (Pominville, Williams if he’d listen to offers from outside the Carolinas) aren’t going to save a GM’s job. And with that aforementioned group of veteran defensemen, some of these options would be less astir improving and more astir accepting lesser evils to appease the sometimes strange whims of NHL head coaches.

In some cases, veteran players might even sign PTOs, which would allow teams to see if they can find a spot in the lineup and chemistry with the team earlier even handing out a guaranteed contract.

This list isn’t necessarily comprehensive, either, so fire away if you have suggestions. In the case of this post, the veteran UFA options are 32 and older, if that helps.

MORE FREE AGENCY FUN:
• Three signings that teams will regret
• Five remaining UFAs who could bring value, the mostly young version
• Looking at every team’s offseason in Power Rankings form
• The high-risk, high-reward contracts signed on July 1 frequently end in trades or buyouts.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Dallas Stars give Dickinson 2-year deal after solid season

Getty Images Associated PressJul 11, 2019, 4:13 PM EDT Leave a comment

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Stars have re-signed center Jason Dickinson to a $3 million, two-year contract, bringing back an emerging leader after he established career highs in scoring and playing time.

Dickinson was a solid playoff performer in his postseason debut as the Stars reached the second round earlier losing a Game 7 to eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis. He had five points (three goals, two assists) in 13 games.

The 24-year-old Dickinson had career highs in goals (six), assists (16) and points (22) while averaging the most minutes in his four seasons (13). He hadn’t played more than 27 regular-season games earlier getting into 67 in 2018-19.

A first-round pick in 2013, Dickinson has nine goals and 18 assists in 105 career games.

More AP NHL: http://www.apnews.com/NHL and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Sports

With Hughes in Devils camp, it’s easy to overlook Ty Smith

Getty Images Associated PressJul 11, 2019, 11:56 AM EDT Leave a comment

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — With Jack Hughes in the New Jersey Devils’ development camp, it’s easy to overlook Ty Smith.

Hughes was the No. 1 overall selection in the draft last month and much is expected of the playmaking center. It’s almost certain he will be on the Devils’ roster when the regular season opens in October and the packed-crowd at the team’s training rink in the Prudential Center roared on Wednesday when he was introduced earlier a four-team, 3-on-3 competition.

Much like the other three dozen young players at the weeklong gathering, the 19-year-old Smith received polite applause.

What people tend to forget is Smith was the Devils’ first-round pick a year ago – 17th overall – and he nearly made the roster after a tremendous training camp.

A year later, Smith may be ready to take that next step. The puck-moving defenseman has added astir 8 pounds since last year and he is coming off a great season in the Western Hockey League. He had seven goals and a career-high 62 assists, the second-highest single-season total in league history.

Devils coach John Hynes said Smith appears to have matured in the past year, noting his body is thicker and he looks fit.

”He is not a wide-eyed kid here that is taking everything in for the first time,” Hynes said of the WHL defenseman of the year. ”It’s the second time he is coming into the culture of what we are doing. He sees the needs and knows what you are talking astir. He seems a lot more confident. I don’t want to say on a mission, but he seems a little more focused as opposed to taking everything in for the first time.”

Hynes expects Smith to be a motivated player when training camp starts in September.

Smith will be trying to break into a veteran defensive unit. It’s led by captain Andy Greene and recently acquired Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban. Sami Vatanen, Damon Severson, Will Butcher, Mirco Mueller and Connor Carrick are returning from last season’s team.

Despite beingness a little bigger and stronger, Smith doesn’t believe he has lost any quickness or agility.

”I like to get the puck and give the puck to the forwards,” Smith said. ”My dad always tells me ‘Get the puck to the skill and then support it.’ They’ll make the play and then join the rush in the second wave and create offense.”

Smith refuses to speculate when he will play in the NHL. He saw action in the preseason last season and was sent back for another year of junior hockey, helping the Chiefs get to the semifinal round of the WHL playoffs.

”I feel confident in myself, that I can play,” he said. ”Whenever the Devils want me to. It’s up to them. I have to be the best I can possibly be and come out and compete, compete for a job. It’s not easy to make the NHL. It’s up to them.”

NOTES: Hughes’ team won the 3-on-3 competition, posting a 1-0 win over a squad that included Joey Anderson, his roommate for the camp and a player who saw some time with the Devils last season. … Xavier Bernard, a fourth-round pick in 2018, had the only goal in the deciding game. Akira Schmid, a Swiss native who was a fifth-round pick last year, had the shutout.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Joe Pavelski on free agency process, January return to San Jose

By Sean LeahyJul 11, 2019, 11:00 AM EDT 1 Comment

It’s been 10 days since Joe Pavelski signed with the Dallas Stars, officially ending his 13-season tenure with the San Jose Sharks. Some days that reality has hit him, while location are times where it inactive doesn’t seem real.

In two months time, when NHL training camps open and he’s donning the Stars’ green and white, that’s when Pavelski feels the move will finally sink in.

As he went through the free agency interview period at the end of June, Pavelski inactive held out hope that things would work out with the Sharks. But with the team tight up against the salary cap ceiling and with a handful of players to re-sign, that hope soon faded.

“The last possible moment you inactive kind of feel something’s going to come out of left field and happen and get done,” Pavelski told NBC Sports this week. “But as you get to that free agency window and you start talking to teams, you understand that this is real and you’re going to make an important decision and it’s not just for me, it’s for my family and everything that comes with it. We feel like we made a good one.”

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Nearly three months after suffering a nasty injury during Game 7 of San Jose’s Round 1 series against the Vegas Golden Knights, Pavelski said, “[I] feel like I’ve turned a corner” after needing eight staples in his head and beingness diagnosed with a concussion.

The Stars had no concerns astir his health after signing Pavelski, who had never been through the free agency process earlier , to a three-year, $21 million deal. When he knew a return to San Jose wasn’t in the cards, he wanted to join a good team that would give him a chance to win. What they have in Dallas checked many of the boxes he was looking for: solid goaltending, good, young exciting defensemen, and a strong forward group that he’ll get to join. He’ll get a chance to get to know one of his new teammates, Tyler Seguin, a little better this weekend as the pair are in a group with T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals at the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

Jan. 11, 2020 will be a special date for Pavelski and his family. That’s when the Stars make their first visit to San Jose and the SAP Center crowd and his former teammates will shower him with plentifulness of love that evening. It’ll be a memorable night, one that the 34-year-old is expecting will be a tough one to get through, but he’s ready to experience the rollercoaster of emotions.

“I don’t know how it’s going to be,” Pavelski said. “Seeing different guys go through it, it looks like it could be a tough night. It’s one of those things, you’ve inactive got to play a hockey game and it’s going to be a lot of emotions.

“I’m really looking forward to going back. I owe so much to the city of San Jose and how they treated us. The bond is real. The emotions are real, and at the end of the day I’m really going to cherish my time in San Jose.”

You can ticker Pavelski, Oshie, Seguin, and NBC’s Jeremy Roenick and Kathryn Tappen, along other celebrities from the sports and entertainment world participate in the American Century Championship golf tournament this weekend from Lake Tahoe. Coverage begins Friday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and continues Saturday and Sunday on NBC at 3 p.m. ET. You can ticker a live stream here.

MORE: Pavelski, Perry missing pieces for Stars?

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Free Agency: 3 signings that will be looked back on with regret

Getty Images By Scott BilleckJul 11, 2019, 10:22 AM EDT 7 Comments

Every summer we see a few of these: free causal agent signings where it becomes immediately apparent that they’re going to hurt the team in the long run.

Some teams sign out of desperation. General managers facing increasing pressures to win, be it from not making the playoffs in the previous outing or getting bounced early on if they did, go out and try to find players who will make their teams better in an attempt to prolong their own tenure.

Others feel the need to expedite a rebuild or perhaps are getting a nudge from the man sitting in the corner office with the nicest view in the house; owners who are greedy and impatient with the slow, methodical process it takes to build a long-term contender.

Whatever the case, some players get signed to seemingly egregious pacts that appear asinine to everyone else.

Here are possibly three of those that have been agreed upon so far this summer.

3. Brandon Tanev, Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s not necessarily the money here that is shocking — it’s silly season in the NHL, of course.

No. It’s the term.

Six years (and $21 million) for a player who hits a lot of people and was propped up in a big way by his linemates seems excessive. Sure, Tanev can be an effective player when put in the correct situation. He’s a pretty good penalty killer. But the running joke in Winnipeg was that you could take away Tanev’s stick and you’d probably wouldn’t see much drop off in his play.

Now, Tanev isn’t going to score 14 goals and assist on 15 others without his twig, but the sentiment is he wouldn’t have had as good a year as he did without guys like Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp carrying him in the offensive zone.

Tanev w/ Lowry, Copp – 58.27 CF%
Tanev w/ Lowry – 52.74 CF%
Tanev w/o Lowry, Copp – 38.08 CF%
Tanev w/o Lowry – 41.49 CF%

Brandon Tanev (6×3.5m with Pittsburgh) is an offensive black hole with some defensive upside and a decent shot.

Look at your life, look at your choices, oh my god. pic.twitter.com/O6VBjDxWhJ

— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) July 1, 2019

Tanev is an exciting player to ticker. In of world where gas tanks empty and must be re-filled, he’s the self-recharging electric car that laughs at those with fuel caps. He’s an Energizer bunny who goes and goes and goes.

He’ll block shots and hit everything that moves (and sometimes things that don’t.) But if the correct folks aren’t beside him, his effectiveness on the scoresheet (and the data ones, too) will be limited.

Six years is a long time.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

2. Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks

At one point, this was looking much, much worse.

Some reports suggested that Canucks GM Jim Benning was ready to give Myers eight years and $56 million to wear the blue and green threads sporting a killer whale bursting out of the letter ‘C’.

That crisis was averted, but they inactive gave Myers five years and $6 million per season, at least going by the analytics, what appears to be a third-pairing defenseman with offensive upside and defensive deficiencies in his own zone. Myers is a defenseman, so that last bit is concerning, to say the least.

Myers is one of those buys at the deadline by a GM feeling the squeeze from upstairs and a squeeze from the fanbase who want a team back in the playoffs.

Tyler Myers (5x6m with Vancouver) is very defensively weak, both at 5v5 and at 4v5, doesn't help a power-play to speak of and has a rough penalty differential. He is, however, very tall. pic.twitter.com/DlyVqN0Tw1

— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) July 1, 2019

Again, people with an affinity for math and hockey have painted a not-very-good picture of Myers for that kind of money. A “defensively weak” defenseman is not something teams long for.

And the Canucks are in the middle of a rebuild, one where they already traded off a first-round pick for J.T. Miller and where they’re spending a lot of money to try and get good now even though they have big contracts to come, including this summer, where they have to figure out how to pay restricted free causal agent Brock Boeser more money than they have cap room at the moment.

You had one job…

1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers

The Panthers sometimes seem like the NHL’s version of a retirement home.

The accommodations are very nice, the weather is great and your breakfast is served by a man wearing a tuxedo. It’s all very wealthy and all very relaxing. And goalies seem to like it, good ones in years gone by that come to see out their playing days in the lap of luxury.

Ed Belfour, Tim Thomas, Roberto Luongo and now Bob, to name a few.

There’s no doubt that Vezina-winning, free causal agent goaltenders command a lot of money in free agency. So it was no surprise when Bobrovsky got $10 million per season for the next seven. He’s an effective goalie when he wants to be.

Big-name goalies coming close to restricted and/or unrestricted free agency jumped for joy when Dale Tallon signed this monster deal. So did Panthers fans. And they should. At the moment, they have a legitimate goaltender who should lead them to the playoffs.

But for how long?

Bob is 30. While goalies age well at times, Bob has played a lot of hockey over the past three years (and has a nice .922 save percentage to show for it). But will he be a $10 million goaltender in Year 3 of the deal? What astir Year 5?

That’s a big chunk of change for a team that seems to have drafted well and will need cash for those players down the line.

Bob is a great goalie. His new contract, however, comes with an untraversed mountain of risk.

MORE: Most long-term contracts will end in trade or buyout

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

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