Unrestricted free agency in October?

October 29th, 2009 by Fantana Leave a reply »

I know what you’re thinking, classy readers! It’s either:

- Fantana has a crazy inside scoop

or (and more likely)

- Fantana has overdosed on smelling Sex Panther Cologne

Ilya Kovalchuk is classy, but will he resign with the Atlanta Thrashers?

Ilya Kovalchuk is classy, but will he resign with the Atlanta Thrashers?

Okay, in all seriousness, there is no unrestricted free agency in October. In fact, virtually no one in the NHL is even thinking about July 1st. Actually, that’s not totally true. GM’s are thinking about the looming UFA frenzy that happens every year and the smart ones will lock down their impending UFA’s now, before these players have career year’s and drive their values up through the roof. We’re already a month into the NHL season and the clock is ticking on some GM’s. We’ve already seen Cam Ward and Rick Nash resigned but there are still lots of players out there entering a contract year.

Here are some of the names we’re likely to hear about over, and over, and over again. I’ll estimate what their worth was at the beginning of the season, and based on the first month of the season, what they’re worth now.

Ilya Kovalchuk – Atlanta Thrashers

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $7.5 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $7.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Resign this guy immediately! I know Kovalchuk wants to see Atlanta improve before committing long-term but I think the Thrashers will do everything possible to keep him. I’ve listed his value as unchanged because I think we’re all pretty familiar with the talent Ilya Kovalchuk brings to the table and whether he scores 35 goals or 65 goals this season, he’s still one of the NHL’s elite snipers.

Jonas Hiller – Anaheim Ducks

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $1.3 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $4 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: While it would be nice to resign Jonas Hiller, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Hiller won a career high 25 games and finished with a 2.43 G.A.A last year. I’d be very surprised to see Anaheim pony up the raise Hiller deserves because then they’d have over $10 Million going to goaltenders next season. I think their best bet is to trade Hiller at the trade deadline, given that his salary is very affordable and he could net a nice return. Giguere has a NTC, so he probably isn’t going anywhere.

Marc Savard – Boston Bruins

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $5 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $6.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Marc Savard must be resigned. If you’re Boston, there’s no way you let Savard become a UFA. I’m sure Peter Chiarelli will get Savard’s new contract done quickly, and he probably would’ve already got it done if he didn’t have the Phil Kessel mess to deal with. Savard is the cornerstone of the Bruins offence, enough said.

Marty Turco – Dallas Stars

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $5.4 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $6 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Marty Turco’s season didn’t go exactly as planned last year, but that can be said about the entire Dallas Stars roster. Having said that, he looked great in overtime against Toronto on Wednesday night and is playing much better this year. I think Turco’s value will increase a little despite last year’s stumble because Dallas know how important Turco is to their team and it’s not like Dallas have much else to go with in goal if they let Turco become a UFA.

Dan Hamhuis – Nashville Predators

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $2.5 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $4.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Nashville need to resign Hamhuis because he’s such a solid defender and has quietly become one of most reliable defencemen in the league. In 5 NHL seasons, he’s missed only 5 games. Especially with both goaltenders being unrestricted next season, there could be a lot of change in the Music City and Nashville can’t afford to let a guy like Hamhuis get away.

Anton Volchenkov – Ottawa Senators

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $3.2 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $4 Million/season

Fantana’s Recommendation: The A-Train is single-handedly driving most of YouTube’s traffic these days with his bone-crushing hits. Volchenkov’s value is rising quickly because he does all those little things like blocking shots and finishing his checks. This one’s a no-brainer – keep the A-Train in Ottawa!

Patrick Marleau – San Jose Sharks

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $6.3 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $7 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Patrick Marleau had a great comeback season last year, scoring 38 goals. With Dany Heatley’s contract now on the books, as well as big raises for Joe Pavelski and Devon Setoguchi, San Jose may not be able to keep Marleau. However, I’m sure another team around the league will be willing to shell out the dough for a proven leader in Marleau. Remember, he’s only 30 years old and has 16 points in 12 games this year. Looks like he’s on track to have a career season.

Evgeni Nabokov – San Jose Sharks

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $6 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $6.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: This one is a no-brainer for San Jose – they need to keep Nabokov and they’ll be lucky if they can get him for roughly the same price. The biggest question San Jose need to ask themselves is if they decide not to resign Nabokov, who will replace him?

I’ve left off Sergei Gonchar and Niklas Lidstrom off as they’re both likely to remain with their current teams. I also left Scott Neidermayer off this list too, as there as questions surrounding whether he’ll retire or not at the end of the year.

Next time, I’ll take a look at some of the league’s impending restricted free agents and whether the starts to their seasons have pushed their values up or down. Until then…

Your Reporter in the Field,

Fantana

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13 comments

  1. MasterOfPuppets says:

    Hmmm. A couple of points – $4M is a bit much for Volchenkov. Where you have him now is where he should be – low 3s at $3.25M. Same for Hamhuis. Productionwise he looks like a 2nd paring #3-4 D. That spells low 3s.

    Goaltenders are another animal …
    Hiller? Jury is still deliberating. Offering him a $4M+ contract over x years maybe risky. Plus side is he’s young. The Ducks season may depend on him. Jiggy looks to be in decline as well so with Selanne and Niedermayer likely coming off the books maybe holding two goalies for a year will fit their budget.
    Turco is showing signs of slowing down. $6M may be a bit much (his numbers are fantastic save for 2 yrs at .898 SV% so he could ride to 5 yr 30M+ deal).

    The other guys are fairly accurate assessments. Imagine – people weren’t struck on Marleau when he was mentioned in Heatley rumours. Now he’s playing every bit as good if not better than ‘The Douche.’

    Too bad Murray couldn’t have snaked Marleau and Michalek from Wilson for ‘The Douche’ and Kelly instead.

    Oh well, maybe the higher draft pick will yield a gem … I digress …

    Interesting though – Marleau -> contract year + no C = playing like a savage. Turco -> contract year = playing like a savage. Kovalchuk before breaking foot on pace for 90 goals … Volchenkov -> contract year = … you get the idea.

    Stay classy reporters in the field …

    And thanks for the read.

  2. Burgundy says:

    Fantana, I actually disagree with you on a few points…

    - Kovalchuk – no way he signs for $7.5M. No matter where he goes, he’s taking at least $8M or higher.

    - Marleau – maybe you are right, but paying $7 Million for Marleau is crazy. I still don’t think he’s as good a leader as a guy like Rob Blake or Dan Boyle.

    - Hiller – I think he stays with the Ducks. I know Giggy has the NTC, but if they trade Hiller, they have no goaltending future.

    I’m glad you mentioned Hamhuis – he’s so underrated but will get good contract offers should he be available July 1st.

  3. The Fly says:

    I agree with Burgundy that Kovalchuk will get more than $7.5m. I think he’s a top 10 player in the league right now and if Gabby got 7.5 with all his injuries than I think Ilya will probably get between $8-$9m on the open market.

    Hiller and Savard seem about right. (side note on Hiller: I could have sworn that Giggy was in the last year of his contract this season, guess I was wrong).

    I don’t see Turco getting a raise. In fact, I think he could wind up getting like $5 mil per on a longer term deal.

    I’m not too familiar with Hamhuis so I’ll refrain from comment there. But if he gets $4.5m then what will Shea Weber get in two years? $6m?

    I’m not up on Anton Volchenkov as you guys are but $4m seems kinda high to me. Could be wrong here, though.

    If Marleau keeps it up then I could see him getting $7m but, like Burgundy said, that sort of contract could end up causing ridicule for the GM who ponies up the cash after, say, a few months.

    Nabokov seems kind of excessive at $6.5m to me, especially since he turns 35 next year.

    Good post that got me thinking.

  4. Fantana says:

    @ MoP – I agree that the dollars I’ve suggested are pretty high for Volchenkov or Hamhuis, but either one earning $4 Million per season is what I think the market will bear and that’s what I’ve based these ‘market values’ on. If Rob Scuderi can sign for 4 years at $3.4 Million per, then Hamhuis, who’s better, produces more points and is less frequently injured, is easily worth $4 Million a year.

    I still think Anaheim have a problem next season in goal. I just don’t see how any team can justify carrying 2 goalies for over $10 Million a year. As I remember, it didn’t work out very well for Chicago last year, as Huet essentially made $5 Million plus to sit on the bench.

    @ Burgundy/My Boss – Kovalchuk might be willing to take the old ‘hometown discount’ in Atlanta. He’s a better leader than most people give him credit for (though there’s still room for improvement) and this could be one way he shows it.

  5. Tambland says:

    You forgot about Carkner….oh wait. Nevermind.

  6. Champ says:

    What about the ones that are likely to fall…I can’t see Jokinen getting $5M again. Does Demitra get $4M again? And don’t even get me started on Toskala…

  7. Burgundy says:

    Fantana – I think Volchenkov will get a good long term deal to drive the cap hit down. I’m thinking between $3.2-$3.5 cap hit over 4-6 seasons.

  8. Fantana says:

    Burgundy – let’s hope so. I think $3.5 Million for Volchenkov would be a good cap number for Ottawa.

  9. MasterOfPuppets says:

    It’s tough to argue about A-Train because of what he brings. 20 to 25 pts and great D. Throw in some stupid contracts (Like Scuderi, Finger, Commodore and Komisarek) and it’s tough not to say they (A Train, Hamhuis) are worth 4+. 3.5 per for 5 would not be nauseating. My biggest fear with any of these long term deals is the sense of entitlement and country club attitude they tend to bring – player has a diminished drive. Watch Havlat, Hossa, Bobby Loo, Spezza?

    Maybe the cap era, while making the league more balanced has had a hand in creating this.

    Some players just naturally love to play and will play their best regardless of the number of dimes in their bank account…

  10. Burgundy says:

    That’s a great point, Scotty, I like where you are going with your long term contract thoughts. It makes perfect sense. I’d probably have the same attitude knowing my salary for the next 8 years.

    From what I’m told about Volchenkov’s negotiations, he wants term rather than money. IE – lesser cap hit, a year or two extra. Works for me. What are the chances he ends up on longterm IR in the later stages of his career anyways?

    Fantana - One guy you didn’t mention is Ryan Kessler. Reports have it he’s not interested in taking a home discount either. He’s looking at $5M per season.

  11. The Fly says:

    Kesler is RFA

    Last year he mentioned he’d be willing to take less to stay in Vancouver and the NHLPA didn’t take to kindly to that…

    I think Kesler gets $4m for sure and if he can keep playing like has then $5m is definitely possible.

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