Playoff turnover is a hallmark of the NHL’s salary cap era. It’s rare to see a single franchise entrenched in a contending position for decades at a time. The Detroit Red Wings are the remarkable exception. Typically, we see plenty of playoff squads slide out of the picture from one season to the next, while several also-rans sneak back into the big dance.
Five Canadian teams qualified for the playoffs in 2014-15, and all five missed in 2015-16. The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets slipped out, replaced by the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars. The 2015-16 playoff picture consisted of 31.25 percent “new” teams. That’s down from 43.75 percent the year prior but still constitutes significant turnover.
Chances are, it’ll happen again in 2016-17. Which recent qualifiers might slip out of the post-season and which might claw their way back in?
Come Wednesday, Detroit Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek is likely to become the first player with a scheduled arbitration hearing to actually head to the hearing to settle on a new deal.
Mrazek, 24, will enter arbitration as the goaltender of the Red Wings’ future. He’s already been said to be the No. 1 as the season approaches, and this coming from GM Ken Holland before he’s even locked up the Czech netminder to a new deal. The issue, however, will be that the two sides aren’t just a few dollars apart, but rather have a $4 million gap in what they’ve deemed a reasonable salary going forward.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Mrazek’s camp is asking that Detroit pay him like the No. 1 goaltender he projects to be on a two-year, $10-million contract. The Red Wings countered with a two-year deal worth $2.7 million in the first season and $3.15 million the next. The likely scenario is that the arbitrated salary lands somewhere in the middle, but which side of middle it falls on is going to have an impact on the Red Wings roster as the off-season continues. Read more
Based on average ice time alone, Danny DeKeyser was already a top-two defenseman in Detroit. The Red Wings rearguard averaged 21:48 of ice time during the 2015-16 campaign, second only to veteran Niklas Kronwall. Come next season, though, expect DeKeyser to top that list.
Tuesday morning the Red Wings and DeKeyser, 26, agreed to terms on a six-year deal worth a reported $30 million, according to CBC’s Tim Wharnsby. The deal will see him become the second-highest paid blueliner in Detroit with only Mike Green, set to make $12 million over the next two seasons, carrying a higher average salary. And while DeKeyser may not be paid as handsomely as Green, it’s a big contract for the 26-year-old and one that locks up the hometown kid long-term in Detroit.
The deal sees DeKeyser more than double his salary, but the big raise won’t come without added responsibility. Already relied upon as second on the depth chart to Kronwall in 2015-16, DeKeyser’s no doubt moving into the top spot this coming season. It’s about time for the Red Wings to make that switch, too. Read more
The Vancouver Canucks made some off-season moves in hopes of increasing their scoring this coming campaign, adding Loui Eriksson to potentially play alongside the Sedin twins and locking up youngsters Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi and Emerson Etem.
And while the Eriksson signing all but guarantees the Canucks another 20-goal player for the 2016-17 season, there are still some questions about the young contingent of players.
Baertschi, 23, looked to finally hit his stride with a 15-goal campaign and he could have a 20-goal season in him if he catches fire or finds chemistry with his linemates. However, Canucks GM Jim Benning doesn’t seem too keen on simply gambling that Baertschi’s scoring ability will continue to increase. For that reason, he wants to add another scorer.
“We’d like to add a proven scorer who brings some grit to take the pressure off Sven, so he can keep developing at his own pace,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun’s Ben Kuzma. “He took a big step last year and wants to prove to people that he has more to give. But I don’t know where he’s going to end up (next season). At some point, that (second line) is where he’s going to be, but maybe he plays on the third line with the capability of playing on the power play and potentially scoring 15 to 20 goals for us.” Read more
It’s not even midway through the off-season and the Detroit Red Wings already have a logjam at forward.
Entering this week, the Red Wings had 15 forwards under contract, and things haven’t gotten any less crowded up front. On Wednesday, Detroit inked Teemu Pulkkinen to a one-year, $812,500 deal, and Thursday, the Red Wings announced that Luke Glendening has been brought back on a four-year, $7.2-million deal which will pay him an annual salary of $1.8 million.
With the signings of Pulkkinen and Glendening, the Red Wings have not one, not two, but five spare forwards, which means Detroit GM Ken Holland has some work to do before the campaign begins. Read more
Free agency is well under way but the opportunity to negotiate a new deal has led a number of restricted free agents to salary arbitration.
The NHLPA announced the dates for the 24 arbitration hearings that are slated to take place between July 20 and Aug. 4, though some players have already reached agreements with their respective clubs ahead, helping both sides avoid arbitration.
The most productive player to avoid arbitration thus far is Kyle Palmieri, who posted 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games with the New Jersey Devils in 2015-16. Palmieri had filed to take the Devils to arbitration to hammer out a new deal on July 5, but New Jersey and Palmieri landed on a five-year, $23.25-million deal just two days later. Others who have filed but since settled include Detroit Red Wings minor-league goaltender Jared Coreau and Philadelphia Flyers winger Jordan Weal, both of whom signed deals worth over $600,000.
There are some big names still without contracts for the upcoming campaign, however. Here are five key arbitration hearings that could impact some important players: Read more
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons praises the ability of Maple Leafs management to ship out contracts considered untradeable. He observes they’ve shed over $23 million in salary-cap space in the last 18 months by dealing away Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, David Clarkson and Jonathan Bernier.
That prompted Simmons to speculate their next trick will be making winger Joffrey Lupul’s contract disappear. Lupul, 32, is signed through 2017-18 at an annual average salary of $5.25 million. He also holds a modified no-trade clause listing 14 acceptable trade destinations.
Since joining the Leafs, Lupul’s continually been sidelined by injuries. He missed 31 games in 2015-16 to a sports hernia. As a result, his name is frequently surfacing in trade rumors. Read more
The most notable exclusion from the 24 players who filed for salary arbitration Tuesday was Petr Mrazek, but that doesn’t mean the Detroit Red Wings goaltender won’t be included in the process. Sources have told thn.com that the Red Wings will take Mrazek to arbitration before teams are required to file at 5 p.m. (eastern time) Wednesday.
This is a bit of a chess game here. Had Mrazek filed for arbitration, the Red Wings would have been able to choose either a one- or two-year reward. With the Red Wings filing, Mrazek will now have the choice of a one- or two-year award. Regardless, it means Mrazek is guaranteed to have a deal with the Red Wings for at least one season and will be available to the Red Wings for the start of the season. Mrazek is expected to be the Czech Republic’s No. 1 goaltender for the World Cup of Hockey.