The same is true for another guy Poile acquired in a big trade: PK Subban. Subban signed a two-year bridge deal for the lockout year and the season following, signed a big eight-year extension with a $9 million AAV, and got traded for political reasons two seasons later. Would Subban still be in Montreal if Marc Bergevin had given Subban a more judicious, lower-AAV, longer-term deal? Tough to say given the behind-the-scenes machinations, but he just wrapped up what would have been the fifth season of any long-term deal with the Canadiens, and the value he would have provided at, say, $6 million would be tremendous.
(Although, frankly, unless you’re Poile the odds that you’re going to still have your job a decade down the road are negligible.)
The Predators obviously aren’t the only team in the league dealing with bridge contracts. They’re still fairly standard practice around the NHL and one team in particular that deploys them liberally is Tampa Bay. Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson just wrapped twin three-year deals that paid them $3.33 million per. The circumstances with both of them were a lot like Johansen’s: they went from fringe performer to 50-point guys in a single season (at age 22 and 23, respectively) and Steve Yzerman likely wanted to see what he really had before committing even bigger money. Nikita Kucherov is currently working his way through a similar deal at a similar age (but with a little more AAV since that cap keeps going up).
Here, too, it helps because Tampa would have been in a bit of a cap crunch if it had given guys longer-term deals for bigger money, since they would have been buying UFA years in bulk. But it takes a guy like Yzerman, who’s an expert at wheeling and dealing, and finding suckers to take his various bad contracts (of which there are still too many), to maneuver out of it.
There are plenty of other bridge deals around the league, but it’s hard to find too many that definitively worked out for the teams in question. There aren’t a lot of examples where teams got deep into the playoffs or had phenomenal regular seasons because they used the free cap space a bridge deal provided to go get a great player, but there are several examples of bridge deals that became big, long contracts, the results of which are still very much up in the air.
This is a League where we love to talk about cost certainty in all its various forms. If you think you have a young potential superstar on your hands, it seems wiser to gamble that he’ll work out than to gamble that he won’t.
That kind of thinking probably saves you a few headaches and a lot of cap space five, six, seven, eight years down the road.
Anaheim Ducks: I think you’d have a hard time finding 15 defensemen in the entire league better than Hampus Lindholm, but here’s a blue ribbon panel that thinks he’s not even a top-20 player under the age of 25 for some reason.
Arizona Coyotes: Yeah yeah Rick Tocchet new to the job seems excited blah blah blah. They really need to bring back the acid-trip Coyotes jersey.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins shouldn’t pursue another undersized college UFA defenseman because they… already have Torey Krug? Am I getting that right? We’re talking about the Torey Krug who’s currently Boston’s second-best defenseman? The thing with these kinds of takes is pretty simple: How many times has a naysayer — or indeed, a supporter of acquiring a Will Butcher or Jimmy Vesey or Kevin Hayes — seen the kid in question play? I saw Butcher plenty of times over his four-year college career, whether on TV or, very occasionally, live. Point is: If you have reasonable expectations for what a player can be (i.e. not writing Vesey into your top-six in ink because he scored 25 goals in the ECAC) then you’re not going to end up disappointed with an asset that costs you nothing but money. Is Will Butcher an NHLer? Probably a decent depth puck-mover, if I had to guess. But the idea that you could get a guy like that for basically nothing and your take is, “Pass,” that’s just silly. Especially if you couldn’t pick the guy out of a lineup. I’ll have more on this in mid-August, when Butcher can actually hit the free agent market, but I can tell you for sure: This is another thing I’m right about.
Edmonton Oilers: What’s the ceiling on this team, you think? Last year’s success was heavily dependent on extremely good goaltending, and I’m not sure how repeatable that is. Connor McDavid obviously takes things a few steps forward, but I dunno. Are they even the third-best team in the West?
Florida Panthers: The Panthers allegedly said they would offer Jagr a contract and then just didn’t do it. Very strange.
Minnesota Wild: Can we please leave Bruce Boudreau alone with this “playoff disappointment” thing? Like, one year, just everyone let him go a whole summer without talking about it, with the implication always being “You must know what a loser you are.” At this point it’s perverse.
Philadelphia Flyers: Is the implication here that Claude Giroux was in some way at fault for the Flyers missing the playoffs last year? He didn’t have a great season (fewer than 15 goals???) but c’mon.
St. Louis Blues: What leads one to say something like this? I don’t understand it.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Vladislav Namestnikov is good at what he does. Tampa has a lot of guys like that, I guess.
Toronto Maple Leafs: At this point I tend to agree: Why not keep Tyler Bozak as your (slightly overpaid) No. 3 center? He’s okay there.
Vegas Golden Knights: The team is looking for an inspirational message like “Play like a champion today” or “Just win, baby.” For now, let’s go with “Don’t get your hopes up.”
A really very cool and great thing the Golden Knights are doing in looking for an ice crew is asking for applicants’ height, weight, and hair color. Originally (before some blowback) they also asked for marital status. Radical.
User “letsgooooooojackets” leads me to wonder how many centers the Leafs actually need.
James Van Riemsdyk
1st round pick 2018
Conditional second round pick
3rd round pick 2019
That’s the worst name I ever heard.
Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)
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