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3 winners and 3 losers from a costly Day 2 of 2017 NHL free agency

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Some notable extensions will have lasting consequences.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

We’re through the first weekend of NHL free agency, and most of the biggest names have already been scooped up. Many were done before the July 1 window-opening even occurred.

So Day 2 of free agency was all about some noteworthy contract extensions that will have ramifications for the entire league. Spoiler: there’s more bad news than good news ahead.


WINNERS

Carey Price

His new contract is massive: $10.5 million per year through 2025-26, making him the highest-paid goalie in the league. He’s absolutely worth it, and would’ve commanded somewhere near that on the open market anyway.

The Players

San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers - Game Two Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

This whole weekend has been a boon to their future prospects, really. Look at some of the dough being handed out right now:

  • Price: $10.5 million AAV
  • Shattenkirk: $6.65 million AAV
  • Schultz: $5.5 million AAV
  • Vlasic: $7 million AAV
  • Orlov: $5.1 million AAV

Player salaries are rising exorbitantly high while the salary cap only rose $2 million between last season and this upcoming season. That, friends, is the huge lockout red flag you’ve been looking for. More on that in a minute.

Devils

We marked them as a loser after Day 1, but they managed to add Marcus Johansson from the Capitals yesterday.

And now we can properly put their work over the last month into proper perspective:

New Jersey is still not a playoff team, but they’re also not a lottery lock anymore either. That’s a re-tooled forward group that can score with depth, and it’s something Ray Shero should be proud of.

LOSERS

Capitals

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Wow.

What a concerning day. GM Brian MacLellan signed Evgeny Kuznetsov to a massive eight-year, $62.4 million extension. That left about $4 million in cap space for the Capitals to sign a handful of RFAs, forcing MacLellan to trade Marcus Johansson with zero leverage.

That kind of move could’ve been made ahead of the expansion draft, when there was a feeding frenzy to acquire assets and/or trade them away. Leverage was highest a week ago, but the Capitals waited until Kuznetsov’s deal was final before moving Johansson. Oh, and this quote isn’t exactly promising.

Washington still has a ton of players and cap room tied up for the next few years, which will make off-loading moves like this more prevalent.

Canadiens

I mean, they have Price for the next near-decade. That is a win. But it’s just been a perplexing weekend for Montreal, who also signed Karl Alzner to a big contract on July 1.

Cap space and inability to re-sign Alexander Radulov aside, when’s the last time a long-term, expensive goalie contract paid off? Jonathan Quick is still a good goalie, but few would argue that he’s worth every cent of his $5.8 million AAV deal, or will be by the time it’s up in 2022-23. Goalies are fickle, and betting on any goalie to live up to those terms for a decade is a risky gamble. Even if that goalie is a world-class player like Price.

So, no: the Habs will not regret this deal for some time. But at some point, they will. They had to do it, though.

Hockey Fans

The collective-bargaining agreement is up in 2020, seven years after the 2012-13 lockout that cost us half a season. As I noted before, the dollars handed out this weekend either on the free agent market through extensions just don’t jive with the slow climb of the salary cap over the last few years.

Keep in mind that the cap could’ve gone up by five million dollars this year, but it didn’t. Something has to give at some point, and some players signed this summer already have lockout protections built-in. Another shutdown (the third in 20 years) isn’t a foregone conclusion, but it already feels that way.

And that makes everyone a loser.