Jul 11, 2013, 1:03 PM EST
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.
Dec 13, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Badgers are 5-0-1 at home this season.
Dec 13, 2013, 8:15 AM EST
That and all the links to start your day ahead.
Dec 13, 2013, 2:02 AM EST
All three San Jose goals came on the power play.
Dec 13, 2013, 1:30 AM EST
But they snapped that 10-game losing streak the other day.
Dec 13, 2013, 1:03 AM EST
His inconsistent season continues.
Dec 13, 2013, 12:36 AM EST
Quite the funk they’re in when it comes to this aspect.
Dec 13, 2013, 12:17 AM EST
Bet these guys were tired after.
Dec 12, 2013, 11:57 PM EST
What a day in Calgary. More Brian Burke!
Dec 12, 2013, 11:34 PM EST
Yeah, these are tough times.
Dec 12, 2013, 11:10 PM EST
Didn’t think too highly of it.
Dec 12, 2013, 10:45 PM EST
But two points eluded them.
Dec 12, 2013, 10:23 PM EST
Dec 12, 2013, 10:06 PM EST
And it’s getting worse in New York.
Dec 12, 2013, 9:17 PM EST
Nice moment in Philly.
Dec 12, 2013, 9:04 PM EST
Montreal defenseman’s night ends early.
Dec 12, 2013, 8:52 PM EST
Jonathan Bernier takes over.
Dec 12, 2013, 8:15 PM EST
Tough time to be a Columbus goalie.
Dec 12, 2013, 7:39 PM EST
Cam Talbot was cheered upon entering the game.
Dec 12, 2013, 7:10 PM EST
No word on the severity of TT’s injury.
Dec 12, 2013, 6:27 PM EST
He’s been out with a lower-body injury.
- Wild coach accuses Sharks of embellishment 28
- Lundqvist hooked after three first-period goals as Rangers’ woes continue 24
- Burke wants the Flames to be — yep, you guessed it — more ‘truculent’ 42
- Flames fire GM Jay Feaster 36
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 19
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 37
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 83
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 33
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (184)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)