2018 NHL Free Agents: Pacific Division – Restricted Free Agent Defensemen

2018 NHL Free Agents: Pacific Division – Restricted Free Agent Defensemen

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2018 NHL restricted free agents: Colin Miller, Darnell Nurse, and Brandon Montour

The offseason presents different ways to look ahead. Three of the more prominent restricted free agent forwards from the Central Division was under the spotlight here. Now, we continue with the Pacific Division.

There are quite a few intriguing RFA’s out there. Here are three defensemen who could see a bigger paycheck.

NHL Restricted Free Agents – Pacific – Defensemen

Colin Miller – Left Defense – Vegas Golden Knights
His 2017-18 salary was only $1 million. He had 41 points and ten goals in what was a breakout season. Despite seeing more ice time (19:21 ATOI), Miller’s possession metrics stayed well above average (+6.7% team relative).
The good news is that Miller balanced his offensive responsibilities with being able to shoot and hit effectively. Those 177 shots and 165 hits were season-long projections that could be easily extrapolated. Boston showed his potential and Vegas untapped it. This was that simple.

How much is Miller worth to Vegas or to projections?

Again, he is 25-years old. The progression in his numbers seemed illogical. This year was a gigantic step, and some believe there is sustainability. Can Miller be given a bridge deal? That is quite possible.

Miller exceeded expectations with an increased role under smart usage. Matt Cane provides us with his numbers for expected salary and term this UFA and RFA season. The Vegas defenseman is expected to see a one year deal at around $2.9 million. It would not be surprising to foresee a two-year contract. This assumes a cap around $80 million and a lockout in the next couple seasons.

Darnell Nurse –  Left Defense – Edmonton Oilers

The 23-year-old defenseman showed promise in what was a lost season in Edmonton. Few expected too much from the defenseman, but Nurse was able to slightly increase his totals. He finished with six goals and 26 points.

One concern was the low shooting percentage (3.1%). On the other hand, his defensive play was noticeably improved. Is that a function of the increased responsibility? Maybe. Nurse played at nearly a +1% possession metric relative to his teammates. Considering how Edmonton performed over the year, the defenseman provided value to his team under duress.

Nurse showed an ability to stay in the top four, and some may argue he was Edmonton’s best defenseman. That is something the Oilers should be encouraged. Special teams must improve, and that was one shortcoming. However, consider his ability to deliver blocks (161) and hits (153) along with shots (194). Nurse’s offensive breakthrough may come sooner than anyone thinks.

Do the Oilers bridge Nurse? Could he see a raise that doubles or nearly triples his salary? That is plausible. He may since his base salary in 2017-18 was just over $1.7 million. Projections suggest a four-year deal with an AAV of close to $5 million. A two or three-year bridge would command slightly less salary.

Brandon Montour – Right Defense – Anaheim Ducks

Montour enjoyed a solid breakthrough in his sophomore season. His versatility was handy. His penchant for giveaways was not, sadly. Montour’s possession metrics were solid given his near even defensive zone deployment (+1.75% to relative).

He is effective anywhere on the second and third pairing plus can occasionally take on top minutes. The question is what the 23-year-old could command in his next deal. Montour panned out but still may be the odd man out given Anaheim’s prospect pipeline.

The talk with Anaheim was a one or two year deal, which makes sense. One problem is how much of a raise does Montour net from his $925,000 salary? Another dilemma is again that personnel issue. Anaheim needs insurance, but the player has some leverage. Expect a nice raise. Matt Cane projects a two-year bridge with approximate AAV of 2.63 million. Montour will have a chance to improve even more with Anaheim but for how long?

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