MacKinnon & Scheifele re-signed, Bernier dealt to Anaheim and more in this morning’s collection of NHL headlines.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed center Nathan MacKinnon to a seven-year, $44.1 million contract. The average annual salary is $6.3 million. MacKinnon, 20, will earn $5 million in the first season (2016-17) of the deal. “In subsequent seasons, MacKinnon will make $5.75 million, $6.75 million for two seasons, $6.15 million (in a possible lockout season) and $6.85 million for the final two seasons.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m a little surprised that his cap hit is higher than Matt Duchene’s $6 million, but otherwise the terms of the deal were to be expected. Winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 2014, MacKinnon is among the Avs’ core players and has the potential to become their top star. He was going to get a lucrative long-term deal. Should MacKinnon play up to expectations over the course of this deal, it’ll be money well-invested by the Avs.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Winnipeg Jets re-signed center Mark Scheifele to an eight-year, $49 million contract. The annual average salary is $6.125 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like MacKinnon, Scheifele gets a substantial pay raise coming off his entry-level contract. Unlike MacKinnon’s deal, the terms were more surprising to me, as I expected Scheifele would get a four- or five-year deal for around $5 million per season. After all, this is the budget-conscious Jets we’re talking about. But management obviously believe Scheifele was worth much more.
Since his rookie season in 2013-14, the 23-year-old center has steadily improved, reaching a career-best 61 points in 71 games last season. He was also impressive in Canada’s gold-medal victory at the 2016 World Championships, tallying nine points in as many games. He’s established himself as a key part of the Jets roster. This contract reflects their belief that the best is yet to come from Scheifele.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks acquired goaltender Jonathan Bernier from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2017. While the Ducks pick up Bernier’s full cap hit ($4.15 million) for next season, the actual salary is $2.15 million, as the rest was a signing bonus paid out by the Leafs on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And so Bernier’s disappointing tenure with the Leafs comes to an end. The only good thing that can be said about this move on the Leafs part is they shed cap space. Bernier struggled through injury and inconsistency during his three seasons with the Leafs.
He showed promise as a starter in 2013-14, but his performance fell off after that. Part of the reason was the horrible defense in front of him, but Bernier also bears responsibility for his inability to prove himself as a reliable starting netminder. He’ll be John Gibson’s backup this coming season with the Ducks. His performance in that role will determine if he has a future in Anaheim.
SPORTSNET: John Shannon took to Twitter reporting Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel underwent surgery to repair a hand injury suffered during the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel had a terrific postseason, leading the Penguins in scoring. Imagine how much better he might’ve been without that hand injury.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils management remain uncertain if they’ll sign unrestricted free agent forward Patrik Elias. Much will depend upon his rehab of his surgically repaired knee. They’ll continue to monitor his status throughout the summer.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: It’s official, now-former Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk signed a two-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.