2018 NHL Free Agents: Pacific Division — Restricted Free Agent Forwards

2018 NHL Free Agents: Pacific Division — Restricted Free Agent Forwards

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Pending restricted NHL free agent forwards: William Karlsson – Tomas Hertl – Ondrej Kase

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

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

NHL Restricted Free Agents – Pacific – Forwards

William Karlsson – Center – Vegas Golden Knights
His 2017-18 salary was only $1 million. He had 78 points and 43 goals in what was a magical season. Despite seeing more ice time (18:43 ATOI), Karlsson’s possession metrics stayed well above average (+3.8% team relative).
The even greater news is that Karlsson put it all together in this career year. He led the league in shooting percentage (23.4%) and +/- (+49). Karlsson tallied four short-handed goals this season to boot. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold.

How much is Karlsson worth to Vegas or to projections?

Keep in mind, he is 25-years old. The progression in his numbers seemed illogical. This year was a gigantic step and realistically Karlsson cannot shoot over 20% again. Vegas will have a tendency to want to lock him into a long-term deal much like Jonathan Marchessault. His six-year for $30 million paves the way for a Karlsson deal more than likely.

Karlsson exceeded expectations with an increased role under full usage. Matt Cane provides us with his numbers for expected salary and term this UFA and RFA season. The Vegas forward is expected to see a six-year deal at around $5.5 million. It would not be surprising to foresee a long-term contract that may even see a little more dollars.

Tomas Hertl – Center – San Jose Sharks

The 24-year-old forward returned to his form from two seasons ago. Hertl increased his totals and performed at a 20-20 level in 2017-18. That included 22 goals, 24 assists, and 12 power play points. He earned $3.000,000 for the 2017-18 campaign.

One concern was the power play, but Hertl looked much improved and not out of place. His defensive play was noticeably improved. This included 60 takeaways compared to just 45 giveaways. There likely is another gear or two Hertl could ascend to in the next few seasons. Hertl played at nearly a +1% possession metric relative to his teammates. The forward shoots at above 10% and was close to 13% last season.

Hertl showed an ability to stay in the top-six against all odds and stayed healthy the entire season. That is something San Jose should be encouraged with. Hertl’s ceiling rising to 50-60 points plus would be no surprise. His offensive breakthrough may come sooner than anyone thinks.

Do the Sharks bridge Hertl? Could he see a raise that is more modest? That is plausible. He may due to contracts to Evander Kane and other free agents. Projections suggest a three year deal with an AAV of close to $4.7 million. A longer term contract would buy a few years of unrestricted free agency. However, that may be money San Jose does not want to spend just yet.

Ondrej Kase – Right Wing – Anaheim Ducks

Alas, Kase broke through in his sophomore season. His versatility was handy. His penchant for giveaways was not, sadly. Kase’s possession metrics were solid given his mostly bottom six deployment (+4.35% to relative). The forward played less than 14 minutes per night

He is effective anywhere up and down Anaheim’s lineup plus can occasionally take on top minutes. The question is what the 22-year-old could command in his next deal. Kase showed flashes of playing well with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. The problem is, does the coaching staff break from their tendencies and trust Kase more?

The talk with Anaheim was a one or two year deal, which makes sense. What raise could Kase expect from Anaheim in his next contract? The big dilemma is again that personnel issue. Anaheim needs insurance, but the player has some leverage.

Expect a nice raise from his previous $670,000 salary. Matt Cane projects a two-year bridge with approximate AAV of 1.766 million. Kase’s offensive breakthrough impressed many. What can he do in 2018-19 for an encore? If the winger sees top six ice time, the 20 goals and 38 points may be surpassed. The best is yet to come for Kase.