2018 NHL Free Agents: The Not So Cheap

2018 NHL Free Agents: The Not So Cheap

2018 NHL free agents - John Carlson, Jonathan Bernier and David Perron

Free agency is less than three months away. This seems hard to believe.

Some free agents could be down on their luck or about to net a significant rise in salary. Currently, there are 225 free agents that will be on the market.

Fishing season is upon us. Let’s begin!

The Not So Cheap Class

Alas, we broke this down into a few price ranges

  • $2.5 million to $4 million — not so cheap.
  • $1.25 million to $2.5 million — the cheaper of the cheap
  • Less than $1.25 million — the cheapest of the cheap

The third part focuses on the $2.5 million to $4 million class …

Jonathan Bernier — Goalie — Colorado Avalanche

The goalie enjoying part of the renaissance season for the Colorado Avalanche has been pretty good. However, the question is what could he command on the free agent market. Bernier earns just $2,750,000 this season.

Consistency has always been an issue for the Colorado goaltender. He backs up Semyon Varlamov currently. With Varlamov’s injury history, Bernier has been reasonable insurance. The main concern is his own durability. Just this season, Bernier has had two concussions and succumbed to the flu twice.

This is a goalie who won nine straight games while Varlamov was hurt in January then proceeded to get roughed up in the next four starts. That sums up Bernier perfectly. There are lots of waves. Typically, he winds up near the average. His Goals Saved Above Average is -0.43. It was 1.98 last season.

Bernier makes for a nice 1B or backup option, and little else. When it comes to free agency, he is not likely to see a significant raise. His salary may wind up being around the same. The possibility exists that Bernier may have to take a slight pay cut. If Colorado earns a playoff berth and Bernier goes on a run then stay tuned!

David Perron – Left Wing – Vegas Golden Knights

This is where the fun begins. Perron is enjoying an amazing season with an average of 0.94 points per game. What does one pay a player who has a 55-60 point season, but will be 30? His salary was just $2,500,000 for the 2017-18 season.

Perron has had flashes where it looked like he could have a season like this. He had nearly 60 points once, had a hot run with St. Louis, and tallied nearly 50 points for Edmonton one season. Nobody expected this kind of production (66 points in 70 games).

His possession metrics have switched about -2% on average in Vegas. Honestly, he only has 46% of his zone starts in the defensive zone. The second line for Vegas has been consistent all year, making Erik Haula a rising name in fantasy hockey and hockey circles alike.

Should he get a significant rise? That answer is yes. The only concern is can Vegas continue this level in year number two. It is like a rookie heading toward the sophomore season. There is a drop-off expected (has happened in St. Louis and Edmonton). What will Vegas do? Will Perron test the market? It seems like the winger would be willing to take less in order to stay. Could he get $4.5 to $5 million? That’s possible. However, he might get more elsewhere.

John Carlson – Defenseman – Washington Capitals

Carlson enjoyed a classic contract year breakout (topping his 55 point career high). The Washington defenseman made just $3,966,667 this year. He has played on the top pairing and top power-play unit for Washington all year.

At this point, Carlson is a -3 in 80 games for the Capitals. He has 66 points in 80 contests (31 on the power play). Also, the defender has played relatively well. He has maintained positive metrics (+1.7% to average). However, Carlson has been on the ice at even strength for 72 goals against (a +1 differential). That is a concern. The team tends to give up more shots with him on the ice as well. That can be traced to too many minutes in some cases, but not all.

He is 28 years old, so the next contract is a pivotal one. Understand that the defenseman will get paid by someone, whether it be Washington or someone else. Carlson has ties to Boston and New Jersey. That has to be considered somewhat.

Carlson expects to see a significant raise and may field offers from elsewhere. He is a question mark in the playoffs but has put it together offensively this year once again. Can he sustain the production while slightly improving on defense? That is the question teams, including Washington, have to ask. Salary could be anywhere from $5.5 to 6  million to stay a Capital. In free agency, that number goes up.

2018 NHL Free Agents: Scraping The Barrel – Part 2 – $1.25 million to $2.5 million

2018 NHL Free Agents: Scraping The Barrel – Part 1 – Less than $1.25 million