Jul 11, 2013, 1:03 PM EDT
With so many great and intriguing players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after the 2013-14 campaign, we won’t have to wait until next summer to see some more major signings.
With that in mind, we’re highlighting five examples of players eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer that could end up signing major contracts:
1) New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
As much talent as the Rangers have in front of him, their team relies heavily on the superb goaltending of Lundqvist. Losing the 31-year-old now would be a devastating blow to the Rangers, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that he’ll re-sign.
Lundqvist was initially noncommittal when asked about the possibility of staying with the Rangers beyond 2013-14 and there’s even been speculation that his lukewarm response played a role in the firing of head coach John Tortorella.
Of course, it’s worth adding that Lundqvist responded to that speculation by distancing himself from Tortorella’s exit.
“I would never put pressure on the management on decisions like that,” Lundqvist asserted, adding that the move would have no impact on his contract negotiations. At that time, he also expressed a desire to work something out with the Rangers, so we’ll see.
2) Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel
Regardless of your opinion on the trade that sent Phil Kessel to Toronto, it’s hard to argue his worth to the team today. With the exception of the lockout shortened season, the 25-year-old has scored at least 30 goals in every campaign with the Maple Leafs. In 2013, he was one of the best forwards in the league with 20 goals and 52 points in 48 games.
Either way, the Toronto Maple Leafs will almost certainly have to pay top dollar in order to keep Kessel.
3) Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford
Crawford struggled mightily in 2011-12, but he bounced back in a big way and played a big role in the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup. Although he was never able to fully shake off the criticisms surrounding him, he’s was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL last season from a statistical perspective.
If he comes back in 2013-14 and enjoys a similar performance, he can basically dictate whatever terms he wants for his next contract. Unlike Kessel and Lundqvist, who have already had huge paydays, Crawford is still looking for his first big contract — at least by the standards of the NHL.
He has one year left on his three-year, $8 million deal and it’s not hard to envision a scenario where his average annual salary more than doubles after this deal.
Of course, if he falls back to Earth, then negotiating his contract would be even more complicated. At that point, would the Blackhawks be willing to give him a contract that reflects his potential or would they want to hedge their bets? And if they stick to their guns, would a more desperate franchise make a big splash on Crawford in the hopes that he’s got another comeback in him?
4) Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik and Daniel Sedin
Obviously that’s two players, but it’s assumed that the twins will sign as a package. The duo will turn 33 in September, so they will probably have to decide between a long contract at a discounted price or a roughly four-year deal around market value.
The Vancouver Canucks are expected to push hard to re-sign them, but it will be interesting to see how they react to new bench boss John Tortorella. One of the more controversial decisions he has made so far is to have the Sedin twins kill penalties and block shots.
If Tortorella’s approach results in a Stanley Cup then they will probably be thrilled. If the Canucks suffer another quick exit then the future is less clear.
5) Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown
Brown didn’t do much offensively during the Kings recent playoff run, but he helps this franchise is a lot of different ways. He’s their captain, he chips in offensively, and he throws his body around.
He’s got one season left on his six-year, $19.05 million deal, but he’ll probably get a big extension, perhaps in line with David Clarkson‘s recent seven-year, $36.75 million contract.
The question is how difficult that kind of a raise will be for the Kings to accommodate, given that they don’t have a ton of cap room as it is. With that in mind, it will also be interesting to see if Brown opts to give the Kings a bit of a hometown discount.
Jul 3, 2015, 7:44 PM EDT
Buffalo also signed Cal O’Reilly, who played last season with the AHL Utica Comets.
Jul 3, 2015, 6:43 PM EDT
He signed a six-year, $36 million deal with Columbus.
Jul 3, 2015, 5:44 PM EDT
“Joel is a quality veteran player who can score but also plays an extremely hard-nosed brand of hockey.”
Jul 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Could make things interesting next season.
Jul 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Brings a wealth of success, experience at AHL, collegiate levels.
Jul 3, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
$52.5 million extension.
Jul 3, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
“This long-term commitment that assures he will be an important part of our team for years to come.”
Jul 3, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT
“They gotta come in and knock somebody out of the box.”
Jul 3, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT
A one-year, two-way deal for the ex-Islander.
Jul 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Charlie Huddy, Pascal Vincent and Wade Flaherty all inked three-year extensions.
Jul 3, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT
Expected to battle Brian Elliott for the starting role in St. Louis.
Jul 3, 2015, 12:23 PM EDT
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of this organization.”
Jul 3, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT
Jul 3, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT
Bobby Sanguinetti to Buffalo; Sharks grab Mark Cundari.
Jul 3, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
Where he “contributed to the development of Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Martin Jones.”
Jul 3, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT
How patiently will he wait?
Jul 3, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
The 44th overall pick at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Jul 3, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT
Plays a similar style to his dad.
Jul 3, 2015, 10:20 AM EDT
Their supporting casts haven’t been this strong in some time.
Jul 3, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
Pictured listening to Patrick Roy; he’ll next listen to Dave Cameron.
- Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets 2
- Sharks sign Joel Ward to three-year deal 12
- Sabres lock up O’Reilly through 2022-23 53
- Locked in: Columbus signs Saad to six-year, $36M deal 25
- Oilers sign McDavid to entry-level contract 19
- ‘Hawks would like to re-sign Oduya, but still working through ‘financial hurdles’ 16
- Trade: Caps acquire Oshie from Blues for Brouwer, Copley and draft pick 73
- Voynov takes plea, gets 90 days in jail plus probation 60
- Curtains on Broadway: Martin St. Louis calls it a career 36
- Discuss: Where’s the best fit for Alex Semin? 23
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins (131)
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (105)
- Trade: Jackets land Saad; Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago (93)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (90)
- Trade: Caps acquire Oshie from Blues for Brouwer, Copley and draft pick (73)