NHL players who are virtually impossible to envision in any attire other than that of their current team still have something to play for as they approach unrestricted or restricted free agency in the summer of 2013.
Even if they do not intend to go elsewhere, nor does their team plan on letting them loose, some players need to earn more trust to garner more years and money on their contract renewal. Or, if nothing else, they need to be sure not to mishandle a delicate situation and let a steadily positive trend plummet.
Then there are those who are fully or relatively new to a given team and have between now and the season finale to prove they can work into the team’s long-term ambitions.
Come what may, here are 10 players who must sustain or improve their performances in the final months of their contract in order to stay where they are and/or elevate their income.
If Boyes wants to settle in anywhere, he will have to turn his yearly output back around.
His last full season as a St. Louis Blue in 2009-10 saw him dress for all 82 games and tally a career-low 42 points. His subsequent stint with the Buffalo Sabres saw him dress for 86 games in a year-plus and amass a mediocre scoring transcript of 13-24-37.
Meanwhile, if the New York Islanders are to restore respectability without much further delay, they will need a deep, dependable strike force. It is on Boyes to ensure that he can fill a prominent role in that area and thus earn an extension with his new employers.
Naturally, as he approaches the age of 32 this spring, Connolly has fewer years of playing ahead than behind.
The 35-year-old defenseman Wade Redden is living proof that not all is lost for Connolly. But time is slim if he wants to salvage his future in Toronto and/or any future contracts that match or eclipse his current two-year, seven-figure deal.
The Philadelphia Flyers need a year out of Fedotenko more like his 2012 playoff run than his 2011-12 regular season. After posting a minus-seven rating for the Rangers during the regular season, he was a team-best plus-seven and tallied a decent seven points in 20 postseason games.
Given the recent downgrade of the Flyers’ defensive corps, they will need as much defensive efficiency out of their forwards as possible.
Getzlaf’s 57 points in 2011-12 were the lowest in any of his first five full NHL seasons, and the spotlight became somewhat of a heat lamp on the Ducks captain after the team was eliminated from playoff contention.
This is not to say that Anaheim is very likely to relinquish Getzlaf if 2012-13 is no better, but he would be advised to step up in every department without fail in order to ensure a pleasing new contract.
With back-to-back seasons of double digits in the goal column and assists in the 30-range, the first two-thirds of the young defenseman’s entry-level contract with the Blues emits a strong, so-far-so-good vibe.
Now is the time for Pietrangelo to put a stamp on it and ensure a longer, more lucrative deal while helping St. Louis to new heights after winning the Central Division and reaching the second round of the playoffs.
The new No. 1 netminder in Boston, who will turn 26 on March 10, has yet to play under a contract as long as the three-year entry-level deal from 2007-08 through 2009-10.
Rask is currently working under a one-year agreement that yields his biggest single-season salary yet, but he will need to demonstrate maturity and instill stability to ensure a better-paying, multi-year contract before July.
Forty-something forwards Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr may or may not still be in Dallas or anywhere in the NHL, let alone in reckonable form, after 2012-13. In turn, Roy, their fellow summer 2012 import, stands an inherently good chance of extending his stay with the Stars.
With that said, Dallas heavily reformed its roster in order to halt a playoff drought at five years. If he is to ink an extension lasting multiple seasons, Roy needs to substantially factor into that quest and set a tone to, step by step, elevate the franchise back to Cup contention.
As lucrative as Semin’s first season with the Carolina Hurricanes will be, yielding a $7 million salary, it is still only a one-year pact.
The payday speaks to how much the Canes expect out of Semin as he, along with offseason trade import Jordan Staal, strive to copilot Carolina back into playoff contention. By the same token, the brevity of the deal speaks to how less-than-eager the Hurricanes will likely be to re-sign him if he underperforms.