August 13 — Crafty Contracts & Playoff Potentials

WE CAN’T WAIT FOR: IIHF Women’s World Championship — August 20-31

Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 60 days

Wednesday’s Wheelhouse

SUNRISE SATISFACTION: The Panthers signed RFA Sam Reinhart to a three-year deal with an AAV of $6.5 million. He’s scored 20 or more goals in five of his six NHL seasons.

SERVED COLD: Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson is fully healthy and expects to return at the beginning of the regular season, though he did ruffle a few feathers after making seemingly innocuous comments about his desire to play on a winning team. (from ‘For Pete’s sake: All Canucks star Elias Pettersson wants to do is win, team and agent agree,’ The Province, 08/11/2021) What’s wrong with wanting to win?

Thursday’s Tap-in

NO COPP OUT: The Jets avoided arbitration with forward Andrew Copp after agreeing to a one-year, $3.6 million contract. They also avoided a hearing with defenseman Neal Pionk after coming to terms on a four-year, $23.5 million deal.

GORDIE JAGR? Former NHLer and hockey icon Jaromir Jagr plans to play hockey into his 50s, as he remains with his hometown team, the Kladno Knights. Age is just a number.

Top Shelf Thursday – Top NHL Contracts

Contracts have been a big topic of discussion this offseason. A lot of money has been spent on new deals thus far, which made me ask the question: what are some of the best contracts in the league? Here are four players who are playing at a bargain for their respective teams.

Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche

Is there a better contract currently in the NHL? On July 8, 2016, MacKinnon signed a seven-year deal with an AAV of $6.3 million. With arguments abound that he is currently the best player in the NHL — and as far as his on-ice production is concerned — MacKinnon is not only a bargain but an absolute steal.

Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins

I think we can all agree Marchand has come a long way since infamously licking Ryan Callahan’s face. Marchand is one-third of one of the best lines in the NHL — along with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrňák — and is currently in the middle of an eight-year contract worth with an AAV of $6.1 million.

Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers

The best player in the NHL has one of the best contracts. As a 20-year-old McDavid signed an eight-year deal with the Oilers worth $100 million, which has him making $12.5 million per season. Artemi Panarin and Auston Matthews are the second- and third-highest paid players in the league with an average hit of $11.6 million. However, when you look at their numbers compared to what McDavid has been putting up, it further shows how much of a bargain the Oilers’ captain really is.

Cale Makar – Colorado Avalanche

The best part of Makar’s contract is that he signed it as a 22-year-old. On July 24, 2021, he signed a six-year extension to remain with the Avalanche and will be making $9 million per season during his prime years. If Makar continues to impress in Colorado, his contract will be considered a steal when you compare his signing to the contracts of Erik Karlsson, Zach Werenski, and Dougie Hamilton.

Cup or Crash: Predicting Your Favorite Team’s Season

Although there are certainly questions left to answer and loose ends to tie up, most of the roster-building is done for the NHL’s 32 front offices in preparation for the 2021-22 season, which is somehow just a month away. To get you set, we’ll be taking a quick look at where each team stands and what the chances are that this might be their season. Rather than commit to predicting how good each team will be, we figured we might as well look at both possible paths: good and bad.

Please follow along and look back as we traipse through the NHL four teams at a time — all done alphabetically — and examine why these teams just might succeed, but also why they could be poised to flop.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Pierre-Luc Dubois became Patrik Laine, Cam Atkinson became Jakub Voracek, and John Tortorella became Brad Larsen. What hasn’t changed, however, is that the Blue Jackets remain hard-nosed and a pain to play against.

Why Your Team Will Flop
One name missing from that previous in/out exercise: Seth Jones. With apologies to Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist, there’s simply no incoming match for one of the best defensemen in the league.

Dallas Stars

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, and Alex Radulov all missed significant time due to injuries for a Stars team that was hit hard by COVID and missed the playoffs by just four points. I mean — maybe they aren’t that far from their 2020 Cup Final form?

Why Your Team Will Flop
Sure, there’s some young talent here, but Dallas will lean heavily on the senior crowd this year. It’ll be hard to claim injury surprise with Radulov (35), Joe Pavelski (37), Anton Khudobin (35), Blake Comeau (35), and old-comer Ryan Suter (36) in the lineup.

Detroit Red Wings

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Youth should be served in Motown this year, with Moritz Seider expected to debut state-side and Alex Nedeljkovic in net. (from ‘Projecting the Red Wings’ 2021-22 depth chart after Day 1 of NHL free agency,’ Max Bultman, The Athletic, July 28, 2021) Will this be the season that Hockeytown is on the rise again?

Why Your Team Will Flop
Playoffs? How about we just finally get these guys a top-three pick??

Edmonton Oilers

Why Your Team Will Succeed
Connor McDavid. Also, Leon Draisaitl — he’s good, too.

Why Your Team Will Flop
Adding a 38-year-old Duncan Keith while overpaying Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie may give us some early insight into the annual “how will Edmonton blow it despite having the world’s best player” question.