The dominos continue to drop around the league as another few RFAs finally broke their respective stalemates. I’ll give my takes on those deals, the great, the good, and the decent. There was also some huge news that could prevent another lockout. The NHL offseason is exciting once again!
1. Point Signs a Bridge DealWe all knew that Mitch Marner was going to the catalyst for the rest of the big-name RFAs to sign. About a week later, Brayden Point and the Tampa Bay Lightning have agreed to a three-year bridge deal worth $20.25 million. Point was one of the key cogs in Tampa Bay’s attack last year, breaking out with a career-high 92 points.
Like Marner’s deal, Tampa Bay couldn’t mess around, extending Point was a necessity regardless of the price. Tampa would have rather signed him to a long-term deal, but the budding superstar forced their hand after a huge jump in production. Point is arguably one of the top players in the league, even if he is the fifth-best player on his own team.
I love this deal for both teams. I’ve said that about many other deals, but this one is more unique. Like the Marner and Mattews extensions, Point opted for a short-term deal so he could hit free agency earlier. A three-year pact will allow him to test free agency at 26-years-old and maximize his earning potential. For Tampa Bay, this actually works out for them too.
The Lightning have some of the best players in the league locked down for a long time. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Andrei Vasilveskiy are all signed for a minimum of five more years. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a team in any sport with this many lucrative long-term contracts that all have a good chance to age well. But, the shorter term on Point’s contract does give them some necessary flexibility. If Point drops off between now and the end of his contract, they can trade him or let him walk in free agency. If Point keeps up his high level of play, the Lightning can be creative on which one of their superstars they want to keep if they want to alleviate some financial burden. This is another great move by Tampa Bay’s front office.
2. Boeser Gets Paid
Last week, the Vancouver Canucks and forward Brock Boeser agreed on a three-year extension worth $5.875 million a year. Boeser finished last season with 26 goals and 30 assists. The 22-year-old Minnesota native was the 2018 All-Star Game MVP and is one of the few future stars in Vancouver.
Boeser’s bridge deal has a similar purpose as Point’s contract. For Boeser, hitting free agency against 25-years-old could net him more total money over his career. For the Canucks, they have little cap space to spare and don’t seem to understand how to use it. This past offseason, they traded for J.T. Miller who has another four years left on his deal with a $5.25 AAV. Vancouver is a team that is in the midst of a rebuild and shouldn’t be wasting cap space on third-tier players. Especially when Boeser needed a new deal and an big extension for Elias Pettersson is on the horizon.
Still, locking up Boeser now was the Canucks’ first priority. And to get it done before the season started was a huge bonus. This year will be fun for Canucks fans if their star forward trio of Boeser, Pettersson, and Bo Horvat all stay healthy.
3. Ottawa Extends Chabot
Let me repeat that:
THE OTTAWA SENATORS — YES, THE OTTAWA SENATORS — DECIDED TO SPEND MONEY. ON A DEFENSEMAN.
The club and Thomas Chabot agreed on an eight-year deal with an $8 million AAV. The 22-year-old broke out last season and instantly became Ottawa’s best player – after Mark Stone and Matt Duchene were traded. He finished the year with 14 goals and 41 assists. He was third on the team in points and second, behind goalie Craig Anderson, in time on ice. Chabot is a freaking stud and will be Ottawa’s number one defensemen for the next eight years.
This was a pretty obvious deal for Senators to make. Not a soul on Earth wants to play in Canada’s capitol so signing Chabot to a bridge deal could have put him at risk to leave when it expired. They needed to do everything possible to lock him down for as long as possible right now. They did, so props to Ottawa. For Chabot, he can always try to suck for a few years and hope Ottawa trades him to a contender. Hey, at least he’s rich.
4. We Have Labor Peace, For Now
Last week, the NHLPA announced they would not trigger the opt-out clause in the CBA. Had they decided to opt-out, the CBA would have expired in September of 2020, instead of September 2022. This ensures three additional seasons before the next possible lockout.
This decision does not prevent a lockout, but it does mean a few things.
The first is that the players feel that the current CBA is good enough where they don’t want out right now. The second is that it gives the two sides, the owners and the players, more time to negotiate an extension before the current CBA expires. If the two sides can agree on an extension before the current CBA expires, the NHL could avoid a lockout for the first time under Gary Bettman. The third is the health of the league. The NHL is doing very well as a league and no one wants to put that success at risk.
I’m optimistic that the two sides can agree to an extension in the future. Especially because any lockout would occur after the 2022 Olympic Games. The decision of the owners to allow the players to head to Tokyo in 2022 could have a major impact on future Olympic participation in the next CBA.
The Olympics aren’t the only bargaining chips the two sides are holding close. Health care, escrow payments, and hockey-related revenue still loom large. I’m also interested to see if the league softens its stance on the use of Marijuana and if that works it’s way into the CBA.
Nevertheless, we have another three seasons of uninterrupted hockey, and that’s the most important thing.
5. Konecny Acquires the Bag
The man with the hardest last name pronounce in hockey just got paid. The Flyers’ and forward Travis Konecny agreed on a six-year deal with a $5.5 million AAV. Konecny broke out two seasons ago where he posted career highs in goals, assists, and points with 23, 24, and 47 respectively. His numbers last year were almost identical, scoring the same amount of goals and adding two extra assists.
Konecny’s development is key for the Flyers. They have a ton of cash committed to stars Glaude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. They also just (over)paid Kevin Hayes this summer. They need players like Konecny to make the jump while playing on a bridge deal if they have any shot in competing in the Metro this season.
This is a solid deal for Konecny. He hasn’t cemented himself enough to risk a short-term deal, so I think this is right where he fits in. For the Flyers, they need Konecny to make another jump next season. With all the money owed to their top forwards, they need a jolt of youth in their lineup. ■
Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.
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