Players who could earn big raises this summer, and more speculation over Mike Hoffman’s future with the Ottawa Senators. 

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly could get a big raise this summer.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly could get a big raise this summer.

ESPN.COM: Craig Custance recently listed Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, Anaheim Ducks blueliners Sami Vatanen, Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg, Colorado Avalanche blueliner Tyson Barrie and Winnipeg Jets rearguard Jacob Trouba as seven NHL players in line for big raises after this season.

Custance reports a source denied Vatanen was seeking a six-year, $6 million per season contract. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is interested in re-signing the recently re-acquired Ladd to a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All but Ladd are restricted free agents this summer. Of these, Vatanen and Barrie have arbitration rights this summer, while Jones, Rielly, Forsberg and Trouba are coming out of entry-level contracts.

For the Blackhawks to re-sign Ladd long term, they must shed considerable salary to make room for his $6 million per season asking price. With $65 million invested in 15 players for next season, I don’t see how the Blackhawks can pull that off.

Vatanen’s going to get a big raise over his current $1.262 million salary. If $6 million seems too pricey, I can certainly see him getting over $5 million annually on a long-term deal. If the Ducks won’t pay it, there are other clubs that will happily do so. His arbitration rights gives him the hammer in contract talks.

Barrie ($2.6 million) will almost certainly get $6 million annually from the Avs. They cannot afford to lose their best puck-moving defenseman. With Erik Johnson about to earn $6 million annually starting next season, Barrie will seek the same. 

 

Of those coming out of entry-level deals, Trouba could be the only one to get a short-term bridge deal, as his development seemed to stall this season. The others (Jones, Rielly and Forsberg) will all get lucrative long-term deals.Yes, even Rielly, as he’s clearly the Leafs best defenseman. GM Lou Lamoreillo is a tough negotiator, but Rielly’s clearly earned it and should be properly rewarded. 

The threat of an offer sheet could also affect the negotiations of the pending RFAs, particularly those playing on teams with limited cap space or unwilling to spend toward the cap ceiling. ColumbusNashville and Winnipeg fall into that category. 

TSN:  Ian Mendes recently reported on the ongoing tense relationship between Ottawa Senators head coach Dave Cameron and winger Mike Hoffman, and the potential effect it could have upon the latter’s contract negotiations this summer. Hoffman, 26, was awarded a one-year, $2 million contract after the club took him to arbitration last summer. This year, it’s the winger who has arbitration rights, plus he’s only a year away from UFA status. While Hoffman’s led the Senators in goals the last two seasons, Mendes notes his production tends to decline over the course of a season. He also points out the Senators face either re-signing Hoffman to a long-term extension or trading him this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Hoffman’s performance down the stretch will determine the Senators decision. So far, it’s not looking good, as he’s been held scoreless in his last six games and has only three points since Feb. 13. I get the impression the Senators will try to trade him this summer, perhaps in late-June leading up to the NHL Draft in Buffalo.