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Winners and losers of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

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A busy day of movement around the NHL has come to an end. There were plenty of big names who were dealt today, as well as a number of draft picks heading to teams hoping to be a club adding pieces at this time of year in the future.

It was a record day of trades, according to the NHL. There were 32 deals made on Monday involving 55 players, breaking the record of 31 trades set at the 2010 deadline. The 2018 and 2019 deadlines combined only saw a total of 38 trades.

So now that the 3 p.m. ET deadline has passed, who are the winners and losers?

Let us know in the comments who you think had the best and worst day.

NHL Trade Deadline tracker
PHT Trade Deadline Live Blog

WINNER: Rob Blake

Already with a strong prospect pool, the Kings GM added to it with a bevy of deals as the franchise retools for the future. Blake turned Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford, Tyler Toffoli, Alec Martinez, and Derek Forbort into two 2020 second-rounders, a 2020 third-rounder, a 2021 second-round pick, a conditional 2021 third-rounder, a 2022 conditional fourth-round pick, Trevor Moore, and the rights to Tyler Madden. Let’s also not forget he sent Martinez to the Golden Knights and managed to not have to retain any salary for a player whose contract expires after next season.

Canucks strengthen up front by acquiring Tyler Toffoli

LOSER: Joe Thornton

Maybe he didn’t want a trade, or maybe there wasn’t an option that intrigued GM Doug Wilson enough. But while long-time teammate Patrick Marleau gets to chase after a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh, Thornton remains in San Jose on a team that is going nowhere, wasting what might be one of his last chances at a championship. — Gretz

WINNER: Embarrassing photos from your youth

Thank you, Christina Marleau.

LOSER: Calgary Flames

With a banged up defense group, GM Brad Treliving added Erik Gustafsson and Derek Forbort. But when you see how wide open the Pacific Division is and how the Oilers attacked the deadline, wouldn’t it have been wise for Calgary to bolster up front as well?

WINNER: Don Waddell

Vincent Trocheck, Sami Vatanen and Brady Skjei will strengthen their center position and blue line. The Skjei addition, however, is a curious one when you remember that he’s signed for four more years with a $5.25M cap hit and the Hurricanes will need space to re-sign Dougie Hamilton and Andre Svechnikov in the summer of 2022. But for a team that wants to build off last year’s run, they’re certainly better than they were on Sunday.

• Hurricanes send package featuring Haula to Panthers for Trocheck

LOSER: Dale Tallon

Florida is chasing a playoff spot and they send Trocheck out and bring in Haula, Lucas Wallmark and two prospects. Oh, and they made the deal with a team also in the wild card mix. Haula can be a UFA this summer, while Trocheck still has term on his deal. If this was an attempt at a wake-up call by Tallon it’s a weird one. We won’t know if the two prospects will make an impact for years, but for the now there’s a lot of hope that Haula can stay healthy and be productive as he once was.

WINNER: Ilya Kovalchuk and Marc Bergevin

It’s been quite a few months for the Russian forward. After a failed stint in LA, Kovalchuk landed in Montreal, found his passion again and played well and now goes to a Cup contender. Due to that, the Habs GM brought him in for practically nothing and flipped him for a third-round pick. Nice bit of business.

Capitals land Ilya Kovalchuk from Canadiens

LOSER: Everyone hoping for a blockbuster

Since the Coyotes remain in the playoff hunt, it was clear that Taylor Hall was going to stay put. But when rumors started surfacing that the Islanders and Wild had discussed a Zach Parise for Andrew Ladd swap that perked everyone up. Talks between Bill Guerin and Lou Lamoriello, which began about this deal in the summer, never led to anything solid, unfortunately. It would be a complicated deal to make given the salary cap hits for each player, but both reportedly waived their movement clauses to make it happen. Guess we’ll just have to wait until the summer to see if something can be done here.

WINNER: Draft pick hoarders

The climb is too steep, so Bergevin saw the writing on the wall and began looking toward the future. In dealing Kovalchuk, Nate Thompson, Matthew Peca, and Nick Cousins the Habs now have 14 picks in the 2020 draft — a draft they host — and 10 more in 2021. That’s a good amount of assets to stock a prospect cupboard or add some bodies through trades. Or, maybe, through another summer offer sheet?

Same goes for the Senators, who are in a full-on rebuild. GM Pierre Dorion has accumulated 13 picks in the 2020 draft and already has four in the first two rounds in the 2021 draft. Considering how Eugene Melnyk spends his money — sorry, doesn’t like to spend his money — Ottawa will only be able to get to where they want to be by building through the draft.

The Devils have the possibility of owning three first-round picks in 2020 if certain conditions are met following the Taylor Hall and Blake Coleman trades. Detroit has six in the opening three rounds this June, and we already mentioned LA above.

LOSER: Colorado Avalanche

Joe Sakic’s two moves Monday were adding Vladislav Namestnikov and goaltender Michael Hutchinson. With the injuries they’re currently dealing with and the cap space they own to add some pieces, it’s a surprise they were relatively quiet. Maybe Sakic went all-in on Kreider and that was shot down once he re-signed with the Rangers, or the price set was too much for his liking.

You’d think if Sakic was going to give up a prized prospect like a Bowen Byram it would be for a player with term, but no deal of that nature came to fruition or was even rumored to be a possibility. In his eyes, when Nazem Kadri, Matt Calvert, and Mikko Rantanen return, those will be considered Colorado’s additions. We’ll find out in a few months if standing pat was the right move here.

WINNER: Ken Holland

He didn’t complete a massive blockbuster, but the additions of Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Ennis, and Mike Green are strong additions for a team that already has two MVP candidates and is playing in a very winnable division. Depth was their big concern, and they addressed it for a decent price — Gretz

Oilers get Athanasiou from Red Wings; Ennis from Senators

LOSER: Jacob Markstrom

The Canucks goaltender, who has been the team’s MVP this season, is expected to miss the next several weeks after suffering a knee injury over the weekend. That explains why GM Jim Benning went out and acquired Louis Domingue from New Jersey for Zane McIntyre.

Markstrom has played his way into the Vezina and Hart Trophy conversations with what he’s done in Vancouver, and set himself up for a nice raise after July 1.

WINNER: Robin Lehner

He may not get as much playing time as he did in Chicago, but he goes from a sinking ship to a Chicago team that should be a bonafide Stanley Cup contender in Vegas. — Gretz

LOSER: Stan Bowman

He had the right idea, I just don’t know that it worked out the way he thought it would. The Blackhawks absolutely had to trade Lehner and Gustafsson. It would have been nonsensical not to. But everyone in Chicago had to be expecting more than a disappointing young goalie, a prospect, and a second-and third-round pick. Did he overplay his hand? Did he just mess it up? Whatever it is, it was the right idea just seemingly a poor execution of it. — Gretz

WINNER: The Ovechkins

The couple announced their own acquisition on Monday:

LOSER: Overthinking every little thing on Trade Deadline day

Johnny Gaudreau left the ice early on Monday prompting a flurry of speculation that the Flames were about to trade him. Sorry, turns out he just had to pee.

WINNER: New York Rangers

They didn’t trade Chris Kreider and kept him for seven years at a reasonable $6.5M cap hit. GM Jeff Gorton also freed up some cap space for the summer (Tony DeAngelo extension?) and added a first-round pick by sending Brady Skjei to Carolina.

LOSER: New York Rangers

At the same press conference where team president John Davidson announced the Kreider extension he also revealed that Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shesterkin were in a Sunday night car accident. Buchnevich is considered day-to-day but Shesterkin suffered a rib injury and will be out for the next several weeks. Welcome back to the fold, Henrik Lundqvist.

WINNER: Boston Bruins

GM Don Sweeney added Ondrej Kase and was able to rid himself of 75% of David Backes’ contract in one move. Kase, when healthy, is a productive forward and signed for $2.6M through the end of next season.

LOSER: Dallas Stars

Jim Nill was in on Joe Thornton, but it was a quiet day in Big D. We know they Stars are strong defensively, but their biggest need was help on offense as they sit in the bottom five in the NHL in goals per game. The pressure is on to win in Dallas and taking an inactive approach to the deadline is a gamble. Defense wins championships, sure, but other contenders around them in West look a step ahead of them up front at the moment.

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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.

PHT’s 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Live Blog

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Welcome to Pro Hockey Talk’s 2020 NHL trade deadline live blog. There’s already been a flurry of action in the past few days, but some names are still out there who could potentially be on the move before 3 p.m. ET today. Read on for news and analysis.

4 p.m ET

That’s all for the live blog after an active Monday trade deadline. Be sure to check out the Trade Tracker for all of the moves that might still be pending as well as the Winners and Losers later on tonight.

3:30 p.m ET

Johnny Gaudreau caused a bit of a stir earlier when he left the ice early. That will cause plenty of speculation this time of year, but Johnny Hockey put all that trade to rest.

“I had to pee,” Gaudreau said via the Calgary Sun. “I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. Next time I will hold it in as long as I can, until practice is over.”

3:20 p.m ET

Not a Tyson Barrie deal but the Maple Leafs have announced they’ve extended Jake Muzzin for four years with a $5.625M cap hit. That amounts to $22.5M over the length of the contract.

Since coming over in a trade from LA last season Muzzin, who could have been a UFA this summer, has 38 points in 82 games with Toronto while averaging over 21 minutes a night.

3:17 p.m ET

Carolina has helped their blue line acquired Sami Vatanen from the Devils for a pick and a prospect, per Bob McKenzie, and also added Brady Skjei from the Rangers for a 2020 first-rounder. With injuries to Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce, it was clear the Canes needed help on the blue line.

Vatanen, who can become a UFA in July, has missed the last 10 games with a leg injury, but he certainly bolsters the defense when healthy as a right-hand shot. He has 23 points in 47 games this season and has been averaging nearly 22 minutes a night. Skjei has four years left with a $5.25M cap hit. He has eight goals and 23 points in 60 games this season while averaging 20:41 of ice time.

Don Waddell is going for it in hopes of building off of last spring’s memorable run to the Eastern Conference Final.

PHT analysis

3:15 p.m ET

The rumored Zach PariseAndrew Ladd deal was not consummated today. According to Mike Russo, the Wild and Islanders began discussion the swap back in the summer, so maybe this is something that Lou Lamoriello and Bill Guerin will revisit around the draft or after free agency opens in July.

Here’s Lamoriello on how close a deal actually was: “I don’t know what the definition of ‘close’ is. But until something materializes, it’s not close.”

3:06 p.m ET

3:04 p.m ET

There’s a new goalie in Las Vegas and his name is Robin Lehner. The Golden Knights added Lehner in a deal with the Blackhawks for Malcolm Subban. Per Natural Stat Trick, Vegas owns the sixth-worst event strength save percentage (.901) and this is a good move to push Marc-Andre Fleury, who has not had his best season.

The trade is also a decision on Subban, who has been mediocre backing up Fleury this year. The way Lehner has played, would it be surprising if he ends up getting the bulk of the work down the stretch and potentially in the playoffs?

• PHT analysis

2:40 p.m ET

There are 20 minutes to go and still no movement on the likes of Joe Thornton, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, Mike Hoffman, or Robin Lehner.

Deals can be announced after the 3 p.m. ET deadline as long as teams process it beforehand. The queue at NHL Central Registry to get the trade through can get backed up this late in the game.

2:35 p.m ET

Conor Sheary is headed back to Pittsburgh as the Sabres sent him and Evan Rodrigues to the Penguins for Dominik Kahun. Sheary, began his NHL career with the Penguins and was part of their back-to-back Stanley Cup teams in 2016 and 2017. He also spent plenty of time alongside Sidney Crosby.

Rodrigues asked for a trade in December and now has his wish joining a Cup contender.

The Blackhawks dealt Kahun, a impending RFA, last summer for Olli Maatta and he put up 10 goals and 27 points in 50 games this season. He now joins the list of players Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has acquired and dealt again within a year. Alex Galchenyuk, Jamie Oleksiak, Erik Gudbranson, Tanner Pearson, Derick Brassard, Ryan Reaves, and Riley Sheahan, among others, are in that club.

• PHT analysis

2:19 p.m ET

The idea of Jumbo going back to Boston is slowly losing hope.

2:16 p.m ET

The Ovechkin’s have announced an acquisition of their own as Nastasiya Ovechkin reveals she is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

2:15 p.m ET

Vegas doesn’t get its man in Erik Gustafsson as the defenseman goes from Chicago to the Flames for conditional picks. Calgary also adds depth to their blue line in picking up Derek Forbort from the Kings for a 2021 fourth-rounder.

• PHT analysis

1:54 p.m ET

It’s official: J.G. Pageau and the Islanders have worked out a six-year, $30M extension after this morning’s trade from Ottawa. He now joins captain Anders Lee as the only Islanders signed through the 2025-26 NHL season. Six years is one more than what the Senators were interested in doing, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.

Pageau also gets a full no-trade clause in the first two seasons and a partial no-trade for the final four years.

1:37 p.m. ET

Always double check those Twitter accounts, friends!

1:26 p.m. ET

Guess it was always in the cards…

1:21 p.m. ET

Andreas Athanasiou is on the move to the Oilers after the Red Wings sent the speedy forward to Edmonton for second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and Sam Gagner. Prospect Ryan Kuffner is also part of the deal going to the Oilers. This could be a good change of scenery deal for the 25-year-old winger. After putting up 30 goals and 54 points last season, AA has struggled this year with only 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games on a struggling Detroit team.

Now imagine Athanasiou, who can become a restricted free agent this summer, on a line next to Connor McDavid. Talk about speed.

This is second deal between the Oilers and Red Wings since Sunday night following the Mike Green trade.

PHT analysis

1:05 p.m. ET

With Marleau on the move to Pittsburgh, where does that leave Joe Thornton? According to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, Jumbo is still considering his options with two hours to go. The 40-year-old is averaging 15:19 of ice time this season in 62 games where he has four goals and 27 points.

The Bruins and Penguins were among some of the rumored teams interested if Thornton was willing to green light a deal. Certainly a return to Boston would make for one of the bigger stories of the deadline, but it remains to be seen if Sharks GM Doug Wilson will even have the chance to make the move.

How about the Stars? Thornton’s old buddy Joe Pavelski joined in the summer, and former Sharks PR man Tom Holy is also employed by Dallas. Don’t rule out that connection.

12:57 p.m. ET

Bobby Ryan, who’s been dealing with an alcohol problem and was in the NHL/NHLPA assistance program since November, could be back for the Senators Monday night. It would be his first game since Nov. 16.

Ryan, by the way, is one of two Senators left from Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final. The other is Craig Anderson.

12:36 p.m. ET

Hold on to your butts we may have a trade happening that no one saw coming. According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the Islanders and Wild are working on a deal that could see Zach Parise reunited with Lou Lamoriello and Andrew Ladd headed to The State of Hockey.

Parise’s dad, J.P., played parts of four seasons with the Islanders from 1975-1978.

Ladd, who would have to waive his no-trade clause, still has three years on a deal that will carry a $4M cap hit. Parise, meanwhile, is willing to waive his no-move clause to make the deal happen, per Mike Russo. His contract, as we famously know, has five years left and a $7,538,461 cap hit with it. What softens the blow somewhat is Parise’s salary declines from $9M this season to $8M next year to $6M, $2M, and then $1M in the final two years.

And if you’re wondering…

12:29 p.m. ET

The Hurricanes announced today that Petr Mrazek suffered a concussion after his collision with Kyle Clifford Saturday night. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the injured Mrazek, James Reimer and Brett Pesce, “Nobody is short term.” David Ayres is a little too busy at the moment, so where does this put GM Don Waddell? Certainly Robin Lehner is a name that could be heading to Raleigh before 3 p.m. ET today. The Blackhawks netminder can be a UFA this summer and sports a .920 even strength save percentage in 33 appearances this season.

12:17 p.m. ET

Some non-trade news today: The Red Wings claim Dmytro Timashov on waivers from the Maple Leafs and the Ducks add Andrew Agozzino from the Penguins after he was waived on Sunday. Losing Timashov now gives Toronto $10,578,961 in long-term injury relief, per Cap Friendly.

Also, Rocco Grimaldi has signed a two-year, $4 million extension with the Predators. The 27-year-old has 10 goals and 30 points in 58 games this season.

12:06 p.m. ET

Speculation abound that the Islanders are close to extending J.G. Pageau after acquiring the forward this morning. It was a big package and now it makes sense. In 60 games this season Pageau has 24 goals and 40 points. He’s also shooting a career high 17.8% so when does the regression monster come to bite?

11:54 a.m. ET

Here’s a fun one: Wayne Simmonds is heading to the Sabres for a conditional fourth-round pick with New Jersey retaining 50% of his salary. Simmonds, who can be an UFA this summer, joins a Buffalo team sitting six points out of a playoff spot as of Monday. Interesting strategy by Jason Botterill. Is this move a precursor to flipping Simmonds elsewhere or a trial run to a potential extension before July 1?

PHT analysis

11:23 a.m. ET

A very newsworthy morning for the Rangers. President John Davidson said that they have extended Chris Kreider for seven years at a $6.5M cap hit, which is good news for Rangers fans and for their 2020 playoff push. JD also brought some bad news revealing that Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shestrkin were involved in a Sunday night car accident. Buchnevich is considered day to day, but Shesterkin suffered a small rib fracture and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Henrik Lundqvist is now back in the New York goalie picture.

11:14 a.m. ET

It’s funny what deadlines can do. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, now it appears as if the Rangers will extend Chris Kreider, which would take one of the bigger names off the board.

11:05 a.m. ET

Patrick Marleau‘s quest for a Stanley Cup will continue in Pittsburgh after the Penguins acquired the veteran in exchange for a conditional third-round pick. (Pick becomes a second if Pittsburgh wins the Cup.) This move has real “Iginla to Pens, circa 2013” vibes to it. Does Marleau’s game fit into their system of speed and chipping and winning pucks? He’s certainly added depth on the wing and Mike Sullivan is hoping he can find a role for him in their bottom six.

“Although we have had a disappointing season in San Jose, he deserves every opportunity to have a chance at winning a Stanley Cup, and we’re happy to help accommodate that,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck.”

PHT analysis

10:50 a.m. ET

Nate Thompson moves from the Canadiens to Philadelphia, which gives Marc Bergevin an arsenal of picks when Montreal hosts the 2021 draft in June. Bergevin has stockpiled 13 picks in the upcoming draft, six of which will come in the opening three rounds.

10:16 a.m. ET

Another move, this one between two teams chasing playoff spots in the East. Vincent Trocheck is on his way to Carolina in exchange for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen. The Panthers have dropped nine of their last 13 games. This must be Dale Tallon’s idea of a wake-up call.

PHT analysis

10:00 a.m. ET

The NHL schedule features only the Senators and Blue Jackets so there will be heavy focus on whatever moves are consummated before the deadline. Some names still out there include Chris Kreider, Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, Erik Gustafsson, Jesper Fast, and Wayne Simmonds, among many others.

In Kreider’s case, there were questions as to whether he’d even be on the market. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported over the weekend that contract talks between the forward and the Rangers have stalled and he’ll likely be dealt. He’s been linked to the Bruins for a while now, but was adding Ondrej Kase their only move to bolster up front?

9:50 a.m. ET

We have our first trades of the day! Vladislav Namestnikov is headed to the Avalanche for a 2021 fourth-round pick. Joe Sakic adds depth for a team that has eyes on winning the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Senators GM Pierre Dorion goes and sends Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the Islanders for a conditional 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2022 third-round pick. If the 2020 first-rounder is top three, it moves to 2021, and Ottawa will only receive the 2022 pick if the Islanders win the Cup this season.

For a team that is looking towards the future, this has been a good day so far for Dorion, who could also move Tyler Ennis before the deadline. The Senators own nine potential picks in the first three rounds of the 2002 NHL Draft and seven in the first four rounds in 2021. Those are a lot of assets to build a prospect cupboard and also use for trade bait.

PHT analysis

9:00 a.m. ET

Good morning! Welcome to Pro Hockey Talk’s 2020 NHL trade deadline live blog. There’s already been a flurry of action in the past few days, but some names are still out there who could potentially be on the move before 3 p.m. ET today.

Be sure to check out the PHT Trade Tracker today for every move made and we’ll have full coverage of all the big deals that go down today.

————

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.

Islanders place Andrew Ladd on waivers

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(UPDATE: Ladd has cleared waivers and will report to AHL Bridgeport.)

New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello announced that the team put forward Andrew Ladd on waivers on Thursday, and from the sound of things, it’s unclear if we’ll see Ladd in the NHL again.

That said, Ladd’s $5.5 million AAV doesn’t expire until after 2022-23(!) so it’s possible that this saga may not be over.

For now, the Islanders are putting Ladd on waivers with the plan of assigning him to the AHL. Ladd had been on a conditioning stint while on LTIR as he tries to recover from a torn ACL suffered in March, and Lamoriello said that the Islanders hadn’t seen enough from that conditioning stint to have him resume playing. Setting such a standard would always make sense, really, but especially so with the Islanders humming along with an impressive 13-3-1 record so far in 2019-20.

Ladd’s longer-term future is fuzzy, and Lamoriello didn’t want to speculate about his chances (or lack thereof?) to play in the NHL again.

Newsday’s Andrew Gross clarifies that Ladd won’t need to be taken off LTIR to make this happen, which is relevant considering the whole $5.5M thing.

Ladd’s signing ranks as one of the many cursed 2016 free agent contracts, joined by Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo (the player he essentially replaced for the Islanders), David Backes, Loui Eriksson and more.

To be fair, Ladd had some utility if you looked beyond disappointing numbers for the money at times with the Islanders, but again, it’s hard to get too thrilled about such positives when the price tag was so steep. Still, he had some aptitude, particularly defensively, during his first two seasons for the Islanders, as illustrated by this Hockey Viz heat map:

Looking at Ladd’s contract structure at Cap Friendly, there’s the remote chance that the Islanders might be able to move that $5.5M cap hit (LTIR-bound or not) as the deal goes along. Ladd’s actual salary slips to $4M from 2020-21 through 2022-23, and it’s split up by a $3M signing bonus and $1M base salary each year. Maybe a team hoping to hit the cap floor might be willing to eat that cap hit to inflate their numbers for assets after the signing bonus is already paid, even if that would most realistically be able to happen heading into 2022-23? Perhaps the Islanders could bribe the Seattle expansion franchise to eat that deal, much like Vegas ended up doing with David Clarkson‘s contract?

Ultimately, those details are mostly the concerns of whoever is handling the Islanders’ cap situation in the future, and perhaps other teams hoping to squeeze every ounce of value out of an offseason.

Unfortunately, whether Ladd ever plays for the Islanders (or any other NHL team) again, it’s clear that the Islanders didn’t get much value from signing the former Winnipeg Jets captain.

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.

Why Rangers should consider trading Chris Kreider right now

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The New York Rangers have undergone one of the most significant transformations in the league this offseason with the additions of Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, and the good fortune that saw them move to No. 2 in the draft lottery where they selected Kaapo Kakko.

It has drastically changed the look of the team on the ice, both for the long-term and the short-term, and also significantly altered their salary cap structure.

With the new contracts for Panarin and Trouba adding $19.6 million to their salary cap number (for the next seven years) it currently has the Rangers over the cap for this season while still needing to re-sign three restricted free agents, including Pavel Buchnevich who is coming off of a 21-goal performance in only 64 games.

Obviously somebody is going to have to go at some point over the next year, and it remains entirely possible that “somebody” could be veteran forward Chris Kreider given his contract situation and the team’s new salary cap outlook.

Perhaps even as soon as this summer by way of a trade.

What makes it so complicated for Kreider and the Rangers is that he will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and will be in line for a significant pay raise from his current $4.6 million salary cap number.

It is a tough situation for general manager Jeff Gorton and new team president John Davidson to tackle.

If you are looking at things in a more short-term window there is at least a decent argument for trying to keep Kreider this season, and perhaps even beyond. For one, he is still a really good player. He scored 28 goals this past season, still brings a ton of speed to the lineup, and is still an important part of the roster.

Even though the Rangers missed the playoffs by a significant margin this past season (20 points back) they are not that far away from being able to return to the postseason. Maybe even as early as this season if everything goes absolutely perfect. They added a top-10 offensive player in the league (Panarin), a top-pairing defender (Trouba), another promising young defender with potential (Fox), a potential superstar (Kakko), and still have a goalie (Henrik Lundqvist) that can change a season if he is on top of his game. It is not a given, and not even likely, but the window is at least starting to open.

Even if they do not make it this season they are not so far away that Kreider could not still be a potentially productive member of that next playoff team.

The salary cap situation will be complicated, but the Rangers can easily trim elsewhere in a variety of ways, whether it be utilizing the second buyout window or trading another, less significant part of the roster. As we just saw this past week, there is no contract in the NHL that is completely unmovable.

They COULD do it.

But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, and that is the big issue the Rangers have to face with one of their most important players.

Should they keep him and try to sign him to a new long-term contract?

For as good as Kreider still is, and for as much as the Rangers have improved this summer, they still have to think about the big-picture outlook.

That means separating what a player has done for you from what that player will do for you in the future. For a team like the Rangers that is still building for something beyond this season, the latter part is the only thing that matters.

The reality of Kreider’s situation is that he is going to be 29 years old when his next contract begins, will be making significantly more than his current salary, and is almost certainly going to be on the threshold of a significant decline in his production (assuming it has not already started).

Let’s try to look at this as objectively as possible.

Kreider just completed his age 27 season, has played 470 games in the NHL, and averaged 0.29 goals per game and 0.59 points per game for his career.

There were 12 forwards in the NHL this past season that had similar numbers through the same point in their careers (at least 400 games played, at least 0.25 goals per game, and between 0.50 and 0.60 points per game). That list included Adam Henrique, Ryan Callahan, Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Kesler, Dustin Brown, Drew Stafford, Andrew Ladd, Tomas Tatar, Jordan Staal, David Perron, Lee Stempniak, and Kyle Turris.

This is not a perfect apples to apples comparison here because a lot of the players in that group play different styles and have different skillsets. They will not all age the exact same way or see their talents deteriorate in the same way. But what should concern the Rangers is that almost every one of the players on that list that is currently over the age of 30 has seen their production fall off a cliff. Some of them now carry contracts that look regrettable for their respective teams.

It is pretty much a given that as a player gets closer to 30 and plays beyond that their production is going to decline. Teams can get away with paying elite players into their 30s because even if they decline their production is still probably going to be better than a significant part of the league. Maybe Panarin isn’t an 80-point player at age 30 or 31, but it is a good bet he is still a 65-or 70-point player and a legitimate top-line winger.

Players like Kreider that aren’t starting at that level don’t have as much wiggle room, and when they decline from their current level they start to lose some (or even a lot) of their value.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Given the Rangers’ salary cap outlook, that is probably a risk they can not afford to take with Kreider long-term because it is far more likely that a new contract becomes an albatross on their cap than a good value.

You also have to consider that the Rangers have long-term options at wing that will quickly push Kreider down the depth chart.

Panarin is one of the best wingers in the league. Over the past two years they used top-10 picks in potential impact wingers (Kaako this year and Vitali Kravtsov a year ago). Buchnevich just turned 24 and has already shown 20-goal potential in the NHL.

As Adam Herman at Blueshirt Banter argued immediately after the signing of Panarin, committing more than $6 million per year to a winger that, in the very near future, may only be the fourth or fifth best winger on the team is a very questionable (at best) move in a salary cap league and gives them almost zero margin for error elsewhere on the roster.

Right now Kreider still has a lot of value to the Rangers for this season. He is probably making less than his market value, is still one of their best players, and still makes them better right now.

But when you look at the situation beyond this season his greatest value to them probably comes in the form of a trade chip because it not only means they can acquire an asset (or two) whose career better aligns with their next best chance to compete for a championship, but it also means they do not have to pay a soon-to-be declining, non-elite player a long-term contract into their 30s, a situation that almost never works out favorably for the team.

The Rangers have had to trade some key players and make some tough decisions during this rebuild.

They should be strongly considering making the same decision with Kreider.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Free agency: Most long-term contracts will end in trade or buyout

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Exactly six years ago Friday, the Toronto Maple Leafs made one of the most infamous free agent signings in the salary cap era when they inked David Clarkson to a seven-year, $36.75 million contract. It was a dubious signing from the very beginning due to Clarkson’s age (he was already 29 years old) and lack of consistent, top-line production in the NHL. Adding to the absurdity was the reception of the contract in Toronto (comparing him to Wendel Clark) and the way then-general manager Dave Nonis defended the signing from any and all criticism by saying, “I’m not worried about six or seven right now. I’m worried about one. And year one, I know we’re going to have a very good player. I believe that he’s got a lot of good years left in him.”

How did that work out?

In year one Clarkson scored five goals in 60 games, was a colossal bust, and was then traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets halfway through year two of the contract for Nathan Horton, another free agent bust from the same offseason whose career would be derailed and ultimately ended by injury. The Maple Leafs knew Horton would never play again and the whole trade was nothing more than a way to shed an albatross contract that looked to be a mistake from the start. It was an obvious — and ultimately legal — circumvention of the league’s salary cap.

Clarkson’s contract is far from the only one that has gotten general managers in trouble for signing a player for too many years in free agency. Almost every time the justification is similar to the one Nonis gave for the Clarkson signing: We’re not worried about four or five years, we just want to win right now.

Most of them never win “right now,” and almost all of them are looking for a way out within two years.

Between the summers of 2009 and 2016 there were 35 unrestricted free agents signed to contracts of five years or longer.

What sort of return did teams get on those investments?

Let’s start with this, showing the result of each signing.

[Related: PHT 2019 Free Agent Signing Tracker]

This only includes players that actually changed teams as UFA’s. It does not include re-signings of players still under contract with their current team (contract extensions), or the re-signing of restricted free agents.

• Fourteen of the 35 players were traded before the end of their contract term. That includes nine players that were traded before completing three full seasons with their new team. Most of these trades were salary dumps or an exchange of undesirable contracts.

• Ten of the contracts ended in a buyout, usually after three or four seasons.

• There are only three players signed during this time period that are still playing out their contracts with their current teams: Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in Minnesota, and Michael Frolik with the Calgary Flames. The latter has been mentioned in trade rumors for more than a year now.

• Only four players played out the entire term with the team that signed them: Paul Martin with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Anton Stralman with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brian Gionta with the Montreal Canadiens, and Dan Hamhuis with the Vancouver Canucks.

• Three players had their careers ended by injury before the duration of the contract: Marian Hossa with the Chicago Blackhawks, Ryane Clowe with the New Jersey Devils, and Mattias Ohlund with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

• On average, those 35 players played out just 57 percent of their contract term with the team that signed them. Fourteen of them played out only half of the contract or less.

• If you want to go with the “I don’t care what happens in six years as long as we win the Stanley Cup with this player” argument, the only players in the above sampling that actually won a Stanley Cup with the team that signed them during their contract were Hossa in Chicago and Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik in Washington. The only others to even play in the Stanley Cup Final were Anton Stralman, Valtteri Filpulla, and Matt Carle in Tampa Bay, and Brad Richards with the New York Rangers (he was bought out the following summer after three years of a 10-year contract).

What did teams learn from this sampling?

Mostly nothing, because they have kept doing it.

Between the 2016 and 2018 offseasons there were 13 UFA contracts of five years or more signed, and the early returns are already looking disastrous.

In the summer of 2016 the following deals were signed.

  • David Backes to the Boston Bruins for five years at $6 million per year
  • Kyle Okposo to the Buffalo Sabres for seven years at $6 million per year
  • Frans Nielsen to the Detroit Red Wings for six years at $5.25 million per year
  • Milan Lucic to the Edmonton Oilers for seven years at $6 million per year
  • Loui Eriksson to the Vancouver Canucks for six years at $5.5 million per year
  • James Reimer to the Florida Panthers for five years at $3.4 million per year
  • Andrew Ladd to the New York Islanders for seven years at $5.5 million per year

Not sure there is anybody that would look at any of those contracts just three years later and argue that any of those teams are getting what they hoped to get. Reimer has already been traded so the Panthers could give another long-term deal to a different goalie (Sergei Bobrovsky) this offseason, while the rest of the contracts have all quickly become an albatross for every team that signed them.

There were six contracts signed over the 2017 and 2018 offseasons with Alexander Radulov, Karl Alzner, John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk, Jack Johnson, and John Moore all getting contracts of five years or more.

So far the Radulov and Tavares contracts look to be the best investments and have provided the most return.

Alzner spent time in the AHL this past season, while Johnson has been the subject of trade rumors after just one season in Pittsburgh.

This offseason seven teams have decided to bet against history and take their chances on long-term deals.

  • Vancouver signed Tyler Myers to a five-year contract
  • New York signed Artemi Panarin to a seven-year contract
  • Florida signed Bobrovsky to a seven-year contract
  • Pittsburgh signed Brandon Tanev to a six-year contract
  • Nashville signed Matt Duchene to a seven-year contract
  • New York Islanders re-signed Anders Lee to a seven-year contract

History suggests that probably at least five of these players will be playing for a different team within two or three years.

The players that have had the highest chances of playing out most of their contract are the high-end players (first-or second-line forwards; top-pairing defenders) that are still reasonably close to the prime of their careers, so that might be good news for the Rangers and Panarin and maybe — emphasis maybe — Duchene and the Predators.

All of the rest? These look like textbook deals that are destined to end in a salary dump trade or a buyout within a couple of years.

If a player makes it to unrestricted free agency you should know what you are bidding on and adjust your expectations accordingly. It is usually a player that has almost certainly already played their most productive hockey in the NHL, and it is usually a player that their former team didn’t feel was worth the money or term they were going to be able to get on the open market. It is rare that a team allows a player it actually wants to re-sign and values make it to free agency.

Elite players like Tavares and Panarin are the exception.

The end result is a bidding war for a declining player that probably isn’t as good as you think, which then ultimately leads to a team paying a player to NOT play for them (buyout), or trading them for another player another team doesn’t want, or giving up a more valuable asset to entice a team to take your bad contract in a trade.

NHL Free agency: Sometimes the best way to win is to not play.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.