A roundup of yesterday’s notable NHL free-agent signings.
ORANGE COUNTER REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed center Ryan Kesler to a six-year, $41.25 million contract extension, which takes effect in 2016-17. The annual cap hit is $6.825 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This would be a great contract if Kesler were a first-line center, and if he were in his mid-to-late twenties. But he’s a second-line center (albeit a very good one) who’ll turn 32 leading up to the first season of that deal. That means he’ll be pulling in that average cap hit well past his “best-before” date. When one considers his physical style of play, that date could come by the time he’s 35.
In the short-term, perhaps the next three or four seasons, Kesler should be a key player for the Ducks. If he helps them win a Stanley Cup championship during that period, management can feel justified in spending that much to keep him in Anaheim. But over the long term, this deal doesn’t make good salary-cap sense. Like the Buffalo Sabres with Ryan O’Reilly’s ridiculously large contract, the Ducks set a very high rate for pending UFA second-line centers.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Dallas Stars signed UFA defenseman Johnny Oduya to a two-year, $7.5 million contract. The annual cap hit is $3.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Less than a week after swinging a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for veteran winger Patrick Sharp and promising blueliner Stephen Johns, Stars GM Jim Nill lands one of the ‘Hawks former key rearguards. The 33-year-old Oduya’s new salary is a slight bump above his former annual cap hit of $3.375 million, but it’s not unreasonable and the term is certainly worthwhile. He is capable of logging big minutes, especially in important game, and plays a responsible defensive game. Oduya’s experience, which includes two Stanley Cup championships, should be invaluable to the young Stars blueline corps.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Edmonton Oilers avoided arbitration with defenseman Justin Schultz, inking him to a one-year, $3.9 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another one-year deal for Schultz at a slight pay raise over last season’s $3.675 million deal. This contract could be more of a “show-me” deal than last season’s. Schultz is playing for his fourth coach and third GM since joining the Oilers in 2012. The current ones (Todd MacLellan and Peter Chiarelli), however, have considerably more success on their resumes.
The 25-year-old still has good puckmoving skills, as witnessed by his 31 points playing for a bad Oilers team last season, but his defensive skills haven’t improved. Indeed, there’s a belief around the league that Schultz’s performance has deteriorated, partly because of the coaching carousel in Edmonton in recent years. This could be Schultz’s “make-or-break” season with the Oilers.
NBC SPORTS: The New York Rangers re-signed restricted free agent forwards J.T. Miller (one year, $874K) and Jesper Fast (two years, $1.9 million).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves the Rangers with roughly $6 million in cap space to re-sign center Derek Stepan, whose arbitration hearing is set for July 27.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Beau Bennett to a one-year, $800K contract.
LA KINGS INSIDER: Jon Rosen reports the LA Kings re-signed center Andy Andreoff to a two-year, $1.175 million contract.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Jarred Tinordi to a one-year, two-way deal.