Taking a look at two of the top 2018 NHL unrestricted free agents.
John Tavares, New York Islanders
As the biggest name in the upcoming free agent derby, the next contract Tavares signs will dwarf his expiring $5.5M one, likely approaching or surpassing the $10M per year mark.
Suffering through a bit of a scoring drought to open the year, the 27-year-old Mississauga native is on fire lately and sure to continue bringing Stamkos-style rumors as next July approaches.
Following a hat trick and assist in Brooklyn last night against Arizona, his point total after nine contests stands at ten, including six goals.
In the Islanders’ previous tilt Tavares racked up three points including a goal against San Jose. Prior to that he’d scored in just one of New York’s first seven games, going pointless for five consecutive contests.
After initially diminished production the Tavares – Jordan Eberle – Anders Lee line is lighting up the scoreboard which could vault Eberle back into the mid-sixties in points and bring career highs for Lee.
Following a year which saw a slight dip in Tavares’ scoring (28 goals, 38 assists in 77 games), continuing to exceed a point-per-game pace is a great plan to dispel any wooing clubs’ potential doubts.
While yet to record any power play points on a New York squad that sits at the bottom of the league with a 7.1% success rate and just two goals on the man advantage, we’d expects Tavares to start racking up few shortly.
He should also see increased opportunities as his average ice time is up nearly a minute this year as compared to last, currently sitting at 20:54.
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Widely considered next summer’s best free agent defenseman, and an extra-valuable right-shot to boot. Carlson is off to a solid scoring start this year with five assists, including three on the man advantage, in nine contests.
Despite trailing only Alex Pietrangelo and Kris Letang in shots on goal among NHL blueliners with 34, including ten shots against Detroit and seven versus Florida last week, he’s yet to land a puck in the net.
That’s not the biggest deal considering his career high was 12 in the 2014-15 campaign. Instead, it shows an aggressiveness that’s characterized a Washington squad prognosticated by many to crash after losing blueliners Shattenkirk, Alzner and Schmidt.
With all the departures, Carlson at the moment averages exactly four minutes more per game than last year at 26:43. He landed just 12 seconds short of a 30-minute game against Florida in their last contest. If this sustains, like Tavares, his numbers should shoot upwards over the course of the year.
Washington needs to sustain their moments of success though. They are treading water at 4-4-1, but Carlson is playing a key role in their trademark explosive offense that has seen him assist on three of Alex Ovechkin’s ten goals.
As the top rearguard on the market, the 27-year-old Massachusetts native will get a sizable increase in pay over the $4M he’s earning this year, perhaps as high as the $8M neighborhood enjoyed by former teammate Shattenkirk in the first year of his new deal.
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