Ryan Johansen


Jacob Trouba could really make Jets pay with next contract


This post is part of Jets Day on PHT…

Here’s something you come to realize if you nerd out about the league’s salary cap for long enough: not all bargain contracts are created equal.

Now, look, any GM worth his salt should be able to take advantage of those precious windows where players are exceeding the value of their deals. The 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks are the gold standard in that regard: they won that first contemporary Stanley Cup thanks in part to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane being on the last year of their rookie deals, allowing them that extra Dustin Byfuglien here and Brian Campbell there.

If a player is talented and healthy enough, you’ll eventually need to pay up. That’s why there’s some serious wisdom to locking down talented guys to longer deals when they’re especially young. (Just look at how ridiculous the deals look for, say, John Tavares and Duncan Keith.)

The Winnipeg Jets faced some serious contract impasses with Jacob Trouba and his agent Kurt Overhardt, yet eventually they enjoyed an eye-popping bargain. With the risk of sitting out a season hanging over his head, the RFA leverage was too much for Trouba, who signed for two years and $5 million.

Even with things oddly prorated, that’s a ludicrous steal for Trouba. And, of course, everyone said all the right things when a deal was reached, even as trade rumors festered into November 2016.

“I’ve committed to sign here,” Trouba said while confirming he’s rescinded his trade request, per the Winnipeg Sun. “When I signed that piece of paper, everything changed in my mind.”

A pessimist – and, possibly, a realist – might amend that last bit to “everything changed in my mind … for now.” (Possibly adding in some ominous music.)

When it comes to tough negotiations, we’ve seen some examples of short “bridge” deals that end up costly, and sometimes those same players end up traded somewhere else.

If you’re an emotionally vulnerable Jets fan, maybe just console yourself with Trouba remaining an RFA and scroll to a different post, because these examples might be less than ideal:

P.K. Subban: misses some of 2012-13, signs two-year, $5.75M deal with Montreal. Then he gets $9M per season for eight years, and traded to Nashville before 2016-17.

Ryan O'Reilly: strenuous negotiations lead to $6M at two years, making things awkward with the likes of Matt Duchene. Now makes $7.5M per year with Buffalo after being traded.

Ryan Johansen: Another Overhardt client whose relationship soured with his team. He was ultimately traded to Nashville, where he makes $8M per year thanks to that new deal.

(Note: Overhardt also represented Kyle Turris, who eventually left the Arizona Coyotes, who must wince every time he scores a big goal for the Ottawa Senators. As evidence that there’s another way, Overhardt appears to be Viktor Arvidsson‘s agent, so it’s not like he’ll outright refuse to sign longer deals that might ultimately benefit the teams involved. Of course, Arvidsson never had that contract-dispute-baggage with Nashville so …)

Now, before you claim that Trouba is far below those players, note that he has a season to compile more impressive counting stats with superior defensive partner(s) …. and he already shows potential from a “fancy stats” perspective. He seems to settle nicely into the top defenseman prototype, by HERO chart measures, as just one example:

With the right opportunities, Trouba could really drive up his value. Such motivation could be very beneficial for Winnipeg in 2017-18, but at what cost in the future?

In a recent edition of “The Hockey PDOcast,” Garret Hohl hypothesized that, while Trouba may compare to the likes of Seth Jones, he might end up costing the Jets more than the $5.4M per year that Jones receives with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Beyond sheer inflation, one might ascribe some of that to something of a bitterness tax. The Jets got their bargain and won that battle, but much like with Subban and others, a talented player might just win the war.

It’s Nashville Predators day at PHT


The Nashville Predators entered the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs as the second wild card team in the Western Conference.

When the postseason was over, they were two wins away from a championship, sweeping Chicago in the opening round and beating St. Louis and Anaheim to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Along the way there was the breakout campaign of Viktor Arvidsson while on a top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg; the emergence of a dangerous top-four group of defensemen following the acquisition of P.K. Subban last summer; a fishy hockey tradition and playoff atmosphere that garnered national headlines, and the recognition of general manager David Poile for his efforts in putting together a Stanley Cup contender that will remain in its window to win next season, and likely for a few more years given the age of their core players.

There have been changes in Nashville this summer.

James Neal was selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft. Mike Fisher announced his retirement. Colin Wilson was traded to Colorado. Phil Housley, an assistant coach responsible for Nashville’s group of blue liners, took the head coaching job in Buffalo.

To bolster their club at center, the Predators signed Nick Bonino to a four-year, $16.4 million contract — just a few weeks after his former team, the Penguins, hoisted the Stanley Cup in Nashville. They also signed veteran forward Scott Hartnell and acquired defenseman Alexei Emelin.

Today at PHT, we’ll dig into the big storylines surrounding the Predators ahead of training camp next month.

What will Jack Eichel’s next contract look like?


This post is part of Sabres Day on PHT…

The Buffalo Sabres have one of the best young forwards in the NHL in Jack Eichel, and now they need to figure out how to get him under contract for the foreseeable future.

The Sabres have already said that they’d like to get something done this summer, but they can still take care of business during the season, as Eichel still has one year remaining on his entry-level contract.

In his first year, he put up 24 goals and 56 points in 81 games. Those are pretty impressive numbers considering he was just 19 at the time and he wasn’t exactly surrounded by a star-studded roster.

Last season, Eichel scored the same amount of goals and added one more assist than the previous year, but he did it in just 61 games (he suffered an ankle injury during a team practice right before the start of the season).

The 20-year-old had multi-point efforts in his first two games of the season, but he really took off in February. Between Feb. 2 and Mar. 27, he scored 11 goals and 22 assists in 26 games.

If Eichel progresses in his third year like he progressed in his second, it’s hard to imagine him not scoring at least 75 points (if he can stay healthy) in 2017-18.

It’s clear that the Sabres are all-in when it comes to their franchise center. As soon as there were rumblings about Eichel and head coach Dan Bylsma not getting along, ownership decided to let go of the coach and general manager Tim Murray.

Alright, so we know Eichel is going to be getting a raise from his entry-level contract, but how much money will it take to lock him up lock term?

He isn’t in the same category as Connor McDavid (nobody is) so he won’t hit the same $13.25 million cap number. Still, he’s in for a significant raise, and “buying” those free-agent years definitely won’t come cheap, but at least he wants to be there for the long haul.

“I want to be here for a long time,” the Sabres forward told the Buffalo News back in April. “That’s the way I look at it. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I don’t want anybody to think that I want to be somewhere else. I want to be here, and I want to help this team win in any way that I can do that. I just want all the people there to know that.”

The highest paid player on the roster is Ryan O'Reilly, who signed a seven-year deal worth $52.5 million ($7.5 million AAV) in July of 2015. You have to figure that Eichel will become the highest paid player on his team after he signs this extension.

So, if Buffalo hopes to get him under team control for eight more years, it will likely cost them at least $64 million to do so.

Predators center Ryan Johansen just signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension late last month. Johansen has been in the league longer, and has scored 26 and 33 goals in his two best years. He’s also more than four years older than Eichel. As good as Johansen is, it’s hard to argue that Eichel doesn’t have a higher ceiling at this point.

All-in-all, Buffalo might need to fork out close to $9 million annually if they want to get this contract finalized.

Predators spend big on Ryan Johansen: eight years, $64M


Much was made about Ryan Johansen really establishing himself as a No. 1 center who could compete with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf and Jonathan Toews during the Nashville Predators’ 2017 Stanley Cup Final run.

The Predators will pay him as such, as they announced a whopping eight-year, $64 million contract on Friday. That’s $8M per season for Johansen, who turns 25 on July 31.

It’s the largest deal signed in franchise history, although that can feel a touch misleading in how it really functions. After all, P.K. Subban‘s cap hit is higher at $9M and they once matched that massive Shea Weber offer sheet. The bottom line is that Johansen joins Subban and Pekka Rinne ($7M) as Nashville’s most expensive players.

The trio of Johansen, Filip Forsberg ($6M), and Viktor Arvidsson ($4.25M) carries a combined cap hit of $18.25 million.

News of Johansen signing a new deal first came from The Tennessean’s Adam Vignan.

Check out this post about how impressive the Predators’ salary structure looked before Johansen’s deal came down. Cap Friendly estimates that Nashville’s cap space goes down to $5.44 million after the signing, which adds some risk to this group but still looks wisely constructed overall.

Johansen raves about Nashville after signing big deal with Predators


Hey, Ryan Johansen already had a reason to be happy going into this weekend.

After all, today is his dog’s birthday and Johansen’s 25th comes on Monday. That would have been a good reason to pop some champagne (and hand out some special canine treats) in itself.

Apologies to his pooch, but the best thing that happened today drew headlines: the Nashville Predators handed out their richest deal* to Johansen on Friday: an eight-year, $64 million contract.

You might not be shocked that Johansen said this is “probably one of the best days of my life right now,” according to NHL.com’s Robby Stanley. It doesn’t hurt that Johansen gets the opportunity to stay in Nashville, a city that was deep into a hockey frenzy during the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Those are some great pleasantries, and there’s little reason to deny Johansen. Nick Bonino could attest, as he went from the Penguins to the Predators in part because of Nashville, claiming that there were better deals out there.

It’s probably more important that Johansen is healthy after the scary thigh issue that abruptly ended his playoff run, and Brooks Bratten of the Predators’ website notes that Johansen believes everything is going well and according to the plan.

That’s a promising update, especially since expectations will be high considering the price tag on that new deal. After taking a big step this past season, Johansen must prove himself once more, now that he’s one of the most expensive centers in the NHL.

On the bright side, even if he stumbles and becomes the object of some criticism … he’ll at least have that cash and good ‘ol Doug.

* – Again, P.K. Subban carries a higher cap hit (but was traded to Nashville) and Shea Weber cost more overall (yet the Flyers “signed” him to an offer sheet), so it’s sort of semantics thing. The important thing to remember is that it was a lot of cash.