Free agency is just about three months away. This seems hard to believe. Some players that are cheap now will not be cheap for so long. Instead of looking at the cream of the crop, we are looking at the bottom of the barrel.
Some of these free agents could be down on their luck or about to net a significant rise in salary. Currently, there are 226 free agents that will be on the market.
Fishing season is upon us. Let’s begin!
Scraping The Barrel: The Cheapest Of Cheap
Alas, we broke this down into a few price ranges
- $2.5 million to $4 million
- $1.25 million to $2.5 million
- Less than $1.25 million
The first part focuses on the less than $1.25 million class …
Carter Hutton – Goaltender – St. Louis Blues
Will he remain with St. Louis? It’s an excellent question. Consider his 2017-18 salary is just $1.125 million. Also, he has 16 wins in 30 starts, along with a 2.02 GAA, and a .934 save percentage. Those are impressive numbers. Does a team pay for one outstanding year?
The good news is that Hutton just returned from a significant neck injury that cost him almost four weeks of time. Teams will overlook that.
Every metric has spiked with Hutton this year. His penalty kill save percentage is a whopping .917. Keep in mind, that .875 is average. His even strength save percentage jumped from .918 to .940. His goals saved above average (GSAA) is over 16. It had never gone above a +2 in his short career.
St. Louis already has a starter in Jake Allen, who is signed until 2021. The cap could go up to anywhere from $78-83 million dollars this summer. Furthermore, the Blues will have some players returning from injury that will force several decisions to be made.
Again, do you keep Carter Hutton? If he tests the free agent market, someone will pay him. The answer is probably yes. St. Louis needs goalie insurance, no matter the cost. Expect Hutton to see a significant pay raise that should at least double his salary or more.
Brian Gibbons – Center – New Jersey Devils
This is where the fun begins. Gibbons is enjoying a productive season with a point just about every other game. What does one pay a player who made just about league minimum? His salary was just $650,000 for the 2017-18 season.
Gibbons started out on fire. He tallied 11 goals in just the first seven weeks of the season. The forward has just one since. However, he has been a dependable bottom-six forward, especially on the penalty kill.
His possession metrics are about -3.5% to -4% off from the team average. Honestly, he only has 39% of his zone starts in the offensive zone. That is less than Travis Zajac. A lot of those starts are in the defensive zone.
Should he get a significant rise? Probably not. Gibbons sees a modest increase to stay with New Jersey. He may get offered a slightly higher salary to go elsewhere. That will not break the bank.
Riley Nash – Center – Boston Bruins
The forward saved his best for last this season as Nash has a surprising 41 points in 74 games. Nash made just $900,000 this year for Boston. He has played anywhere from the third line to the top line. Nash saw top power play ice time when injuries crippled the Bruins forward core. He handled the increased assignments well and thrived.
At one point, Nash was averaging almost a point a game for about 15 contests. Yes, he has struggled a bit over the previous couple weeks. However, the forward has shown an ability to play on any of Boston’s top three lines, and not look out of place.
He is 28 years old so the next contract is a pivotal one. Understand that Nash had never exceeded ten goals until this year or 17 assists in any season. Is this a fluke (AKA contract year) or could there be something more here?
Nash likely will receive a significant raise from Boston in the off-season. Either that or another team will do the same. The Bruins will likely not bring back Rick Nash and that should be enough to fit the center in. Nash could get as high as $2-$3 million dollars a season on the market so this will be interesting.