Since the free agency dust settles, rosters have started to solidify to the 2018-19 season. It is never too early to look forward — but in this situation, we are reflecting on previous moves of GMs.
We examined the rosters of all 31 teams and chose out the very best contract on every one. For every choice, we considered era, trajectory, market value and duration. We are also not including entry-level contracts for gamers such as Auston Matthews and Mathew Barzal, because those are one of the very team-friendly bargains in all professional sports.Rickard Rakell, 25, RW
$3.78 million cap hit through 2021-22 season When we think of the Ducks, we think of their aging core. Sneakily, Rakell has emerged as Anaheim’s most dangerous scoring threat. And he’s only 25. The Swede’s salary at less than $4 million a year is a ridiculous bargain, considering he’s put up 30-plus goals in consecutive seasons (the sole Duck to do this in that span).
Antti Raanta, 29, G
$4.25 million cap strike through 2020-21
The Coyotes made several strong moves this offseason, but if they are going to have any chance at a winning record in 2018-19 (and likely beyond), the secret is Raanta. Arizona needed a strong second half last year, allowing the league’s fourth-fewest goals from February on — that coincided with Raatna’s return to form after trauma. Next season he conveys the 21st-highest cap strike among NHL goalies; Raanta has played far above that mark.
Brad Marchand, 30, LW $6.125 million cap strike through 2024-25
Yes, he’s a tongue-happy agitator, but Marchand is also one of the very proficient forward in the league. Since debuting in 2010-11, his 226 targets rank third among left wingers, trailing only Alex Ovechkin and Jamie Benn. The term here is really a win for the Bruins. Honorable mention to Torey Krug, whose $5.25 million is unbelievably reasonable, though the 27-year-old D-man has just three more years on the offer.
Rasmus 23, Ristolainen, D $5.4 million cap hit through 2021-22
The Sabres have asked Ristolainen to shoulder crazy obligation — he led the team with 26:30 in average ice time last season, more than three minutes over any other defenseman on the team — and secured him in at a more rapid pace. Ristolainen will continue to guy the very best pairing until No. 1 overall selection Rasmus Dahlin is experienced enough to join him. (That should not take too much time ).
Sean Monahan, 23, C
$6.38 million cap strike through 2022-23
The Calgary Flames have a young, exciting heart, and really, we could have picked either among their two top-line centerpieces (the other being Johnny Gaudreau) because the reason behind why the Flames are put up to win soon. The two players would be due big paydays if they were not already locked . Monahan’s term is a year longer, and his cap hit is somewhat less expensive than Gaudreau’s. Plus, it’s difficult to get an elite top-line center at this price; maybe the only comparable is Mark Scheifele in Winnipeg.
Jaccob Slavin, 24, D
$5.3 million cap hit through 2024-25
A color over $5 million per year to get a No. 1 defenseman? That’s money well spent. Slavin is only 24, and he led the Canes in ice time (22:35) and is trending up. Slavin gets a small edge over his top-pairing spouse Justin Faulk, who comes in at $4.83 million — but is under contract just through 2019-20.
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D, duncan Keith, 34 $5,538,462 cap strike through 2022-23
No, Keith is not what he once had been. But he is closer to summit Keith than a shell of Keith. He’s proved quite durable and isn’t regressing at precisely the same rate as the D-man he’s often connected with, Brent Seabrook. In fact, Keith is likely still a top-pairing defenseman on at least half of their league’s teams. With that cap strike, he remains a fantastic thing.
Nathan MacKinnon, 22, C
$6.3 million cap strike through 2022-23
Narrowly finishing as the runner-up for the Hart Trophy last season, MacKinnon is trending upward. Then again, GM Joe Sakic always understood his No. 1 choice was the real deal (MacKinnon won the Calder Trophy, after all) and locked him up for the long haul if he had the opportunity. MacKinnon has been in the league for so long that it’s easy to forget he’s just 22.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Seth Jones, 23, D
$5.4 million cap strike through 2021-22
This might be among the best bargains in the league. At 23, Jones is already a top-10 defenseman in the league, and he is locked in for another four seasons in a discount rate. It might be embarrassing when Columbus’ other youthful elite D-man, Zach Werenski, surpasses Jones in salary (Werenski’s entry-level contract expires next summer), but that’s just business.
John Klingberg, 25, D
$4.25 million cap hit through 2021-22
Klingberg’s leading first half had the young defenseman directing the Norris Trophy conversation. This graduated Klingberg from among the best-kept secrets at the league to mainstream status. The Stars were well ahead of the curve , which has set them at a favorable cap situation — permitting for several free-agency mistakes, the big contract to Jamie Benn and coming cash for Tyler Seguin.
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