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.
Oct 2, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT
Connor Carrick, Garrett Mitchell and Casey Wellman are on their way to Hershey.
Oct 2, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT
Veteran d-man spent the last five years in Minnesota.
Oct 2, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT
“I don’t want to draw too many comparisons to last year, but with this system we’re going to be able to engage in the battle.”
Oct 2, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT
“I don’t take for granted I’m going to be on this team.”
Oct 2, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT
Ken Hitchcock says the “playoffs tell you everything.” So what does that say about the Blues?
Oct 2, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
Seventh overall pick at ’14 draft is headed to WHL Red Deer.
Oct 2, 2014, 9:57 AM EDT
They’re betting on him lasting longer than Spezza.
Oct 2, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT
They didn’t want another top forward to slip away.
Oct 2, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT
Toronto signed him to a three-year deal in July.
Oct 2, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
A few tough breaks and the optimism is eroding a bit.
Oct 2, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT
That brings the Penguins’ roster down to 31 players.
Oct 2, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT
He may begin 2014-15 banged up.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
“The next few days will be the turning point,” GM Jim Rutherford said.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:12 PM EDT
The early word is that he’s OK, though.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
It’s not as foolish as it sounds … maybe.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Worth a try.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT
According to fellow Swede and Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.
Oct 1, 2014, 6:38 PM EDT
One last chance for a tune-up.
Oct 1, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Where he’ll resume coaching duties for KHL Lokomotiv.
- Risk Factors: St. Louis Blues edition 6
- Ryan agrees to seven-year, $50.75 million extension 16
- Julien thinks diving crackdown is ‘step in the right direction’ 37
- Holland doesn’t see Babcock deal by start of season 10
- Risk Factors: Pittsburgh Penguins edition 4
- PHT Morning Skate: Flyers bringing back Ice Girls 15
- Dillon’s agent: Discussions with Stars are ‘frustrating and disappointing’ 7
- NHL shoots down Tkachev’s contract with Edmonton 9
- NHL Board of Governors approves Islanders sale 6
- Johansen, Blue Jackets talks haven’t just resumed, they’re ‘very polite’ 15
- Julien thinks diving crackdown is ‘step in the right direction’ (37)
- Players pushed for coaching fines because they were ‘encouraged’ to dive (34)
- Reinhart admits frustration; time running out to make Sabres? (25)
- Pittsburgh releases Daniel Carcillo from tryout (25)
- Canucks waive Markstrom as Shinkaruk, Jensen continue to impress (23)