Friday, May 27, 2016

Best NHL Contracts 2015

Here is my list of the top 15 NHL contracts of 2015. It is largely based on players current production over several statistical categories multiplied by the years remaining on the contract. Entry level contracts are not included, since they are a simple product of CBA. The list was compiled at the end of December 2015, but I'm posting it on this site in May 2016.

1) Tyler Seguin, Dal, 3 more years @ $5.7M AAV - This one still stings Boston fans. These 4-6 year deals for between $4M - $6M for elite young players signing their second contract can often produce the greatest bargains. Seguin is no exception. If he went UFA tomorrow, he'd get $8M plus. He will be a perpetual contender for the Art Ross trophy.

2) John Tavares, NYI, 2 more years @ $5.5M AAV - He is the two time defending champion of my best contracts list, but Tavares production slowed down in 2015 so he fell to the 2nd best contract in the NHL. He will be a perpetual contender for NHL MVP. He's one of the best players in the world, a truly exceptional specimen.

3) Roman Josi, Nsh, 4 more years @ $4M AAV - This is where Montreal could be with PK Subban, had they rolled the dice with on a longer term bridge contract. Those can turn out to be bad contracts, but they can also turn out to be great contracts. Josi has blossomed into a great defenseman at both ends of the ice, and having him locked in with that term and price is a steal.

4) John Klingberg, Dal, 6 more years @ $4.2M AAV - He played 4 seasons in Europe before coming to America and scoring 40 PTS in 65 GP, earning himself a 6 year contract. After signing that extension, he continued to improve, scoring 58 PTS in 76 GP this year. He was even in the conversation for the Norris trophy. That's a great price for that calibre of player.

5) Oliver Ekmanlarsson, Ari, 3 more years @ $5.5M AAV - Ever since Larsson signed this deal, pundits have speculated that the Coyotes want to trade him. That never made sense to me. When you get a player this good at that price, that's something you generally want to hold on to. He'll demand a hefty price when this contract expires.

6) Gabriel Landeskog, Col, 5 more years @ $5.6M AAV - This is going to look really good when he's making $5.6M at age 26, 27, 28. He's already a very effective player at age 23 serving as team captain. 

7) Justin Faulk, Car, 4 more years @ $4.8M AAV - He scored nearly 50 PTS last season, and that kind of defenseman tends to be much more expensive than this. He is just 23 years old, so there is still much more room to grow. He acclimated to the NHL far faster than most young D.

8) Max Pacioretty, Mtl, 3 more years @ $4.5M AAV - He scored 76 Goals in the first 2 years of this contract. The average salary of 30+ goal scorers in 2015 was $6.4M (entry level deals not included). They are getting Mad Max at about a $2M discount. At age 28 he's still in his peak years. By the time he turns 30 the contract will be expiring.

9) Mats Zuccarello, NYR, 3 more years @ $4.5M AAV - Zuccarello has developed into a very effective player, at a great price for a few more years. In the first half of the 2015/16 season he is producing at the rate of a $6M player.

10) Jamie Benn, Dal, 1 more year @ $5.2M AAV - 1 more year of Jamie Benn at that price is a great bargain, but with only 1 year left, it does not provide as much long term value as the deals above. He's going to be expensive on his next contract.

11) Victor Hedman, TB, 1 more year @ $4M AAV - If Hedman were UFA this summer, he'd get $7M AAV easy. The last year on this contract will provide incredible value for a reasonable price, but it's going to be expensive to lock him up long term.

12) Blake Wheeler, Wpg, 4 more years @ $5.6M AAV - Over the first 3 seasons of this contract, Wheeler has scored over 200 PTS. He is closing in on 30, so there is not a bigger contract waiting at the end of the rainbow for Wheeler. But 5.6M for a nearly point per game player is a bargain, even if his production diminishes by the last year.

13) Ryan McDonagh, NYR, 3 more years @ $4.7M AAV - That is a great price for a legit top pairing defenseman, who will easily top $6M AAV on his next contract.

14) Brendan Gallagher, Mtl, 5 more years @ $3.7M AAV - Expect Gallagher to be on the best contracts list for at least the next 4 years. He has been a valuable contributor almost since the day he arrived in Montreal. He's a sparkplug.

15) Bryan Little, Wpg, 2 more years @ $4.7M AAV - He's been producing above his price since signing this contract.

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