NHL Players with Expiring Contracts Who'll Get Long-Term Deals in 2015 Offseason

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2015

NHL Players with Expiring Contracts Who'll Get Long-Term Deals in 2015 Offseason

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    Every NHL offseason sees a number of players with expiring contracts seeking new deals. Some of these restricted and unrestricted free agents will pursue long-term contracts.

    Several factors determine the types of contracts these players receive. Performance, age, skill levels and previous contracts are taken into account. Other important issues include a team's salary-cap space and the salaries of comparable players.

    Here's a look at the NHL players with expiring contracts this summer who'll get long-term deals in the 2015 offseason. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section.

Honorable Mention

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    Mike Green, Washington Capitals. Green, 29, has evolved into a strong two-way defender. However, he's coming off of a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $6.083 million and might prove an expensive unrestricted free agent. There may also be concerns over his injury history.

    Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers. Coming off of a two-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.25 million, the 26-year-old restricted free agent is in line for a significant raise. However, the Rangers' limited cap space could hurt his hopes for a long-term extension.  

    Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins. The 21-year-old Hamilton is seen as the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara. Given his impressive development, he could seek a long-term deal. However, the Bruins have limited cap space and could push for a two-year bridge contract. 

    Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, the 24-year-old Kadri is finishing a two-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.9 million. Inconsistent play and discipline issues could affect his chances for a long-term deal with the Leafs.  

    Anders Lee, New York Islanders. Lee, 24, enjoyed a breakout performance with 41 points. He's coming off of a one-year deal worth $851,000 and could push for a long-term contract. 

    Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks. The 31-year-old veteran goalie is completing a four-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $3.8 million. As the top goalie in the UFA market, Niemi could seek a lucrative deal. Given his age and a stalled cap ceiling, he might have to settle for a lesser term.  

    Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens. Petry's coming off a one-year, $3.075 million deal. The 27-year-old has effective two-way skills, but it remains to be seen if this season's performance translates into a long-term deal via unrestricted free agency.  

    Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks. Saad, 22, has blossomed into a skilled top-six winger. Coming off of an entry-level deal, he could pursue a long-term extension. Given his lack of arbitration rights and the Blackhawks' limited cap space, he might have to accept a shorter deal.

    Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings. Toffoli's breakout performance this season should earn him a significant raise. He could seek a long-term contract but the cap-strapped Kings could prefer a shorter bridge deal. He lacks arbitration rights, which won't help his case. 

10. Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings

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    Current contract: Detroit Red Wings right wing Gustav Nyquist is coming off of a two-year contract worth an average salary-cap hit of $950,000. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: Nyquist, 25, has become a reliable regular-season scorer for the Red Wings. He's reached or exceeded 27 goals twice and achieved a career-high 54 points this season. With top stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg aging, the Wings must retain younger scorers like Nyquist. 

    Prediction: Despite disappointing playoff numbers, Nyquist has performed well in the regular season. The Wings have plenty of cap space to re-sign their key free agents. To avoid arbitration, they could re-sign Nyquist to a four-year deal worth over $4 million annually.

9. Cody Franson, Nashville Predators

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    Current contract: Nashville Predators defenseman Cody Franson is completing a one-year contract worth a cap hit of $3.3 million. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: Dealt from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Predators in February, the 27-year-old Franson had a disappointing finish to the season. Still, he has good size (6'5”, 213 pounds) and offensive skills, reaching or exceeding 29 points four times

    Prediction: While the Predators aren't expected to re-sign him, Franson's youth, size and offensive skills should still make him a valuable commodity in this summer's shallow free-agent pool. He could end up with a four- or five-year deal worth over $4.5 million per season.

8. Drew Stafford, Winnipeg Jets

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    Current contract: Winnipeg Jets right wing Drew Stafford is completing a four-year deal worth an annual salary-cap hit of $4 million. He's an unrestricted free agent in July. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: Acquired in a mid-February multiplayer trade with Buffalo, the 29-year-old Stafford tallied 19 points in 26 regular-season games with the Jets. He also had two points in four playoff games. The Winnipeg Free Press' Tim Campbell reports Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff wants to re-sign as many free agents as possible.

    Prediction: Cheveldayoff is usually a cautious GM. After reaching the playoffs this year, he could splurge to retain his key free agents. A four-year deal worth around $5 million per season could keep Stafford in Winnipeg.

7. Andrej Sekera, Los Angeles Kings

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    Current contract: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Andrej Sekera is completing a four-year contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $2.75 million. He's an unrestricted free agent. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: Sekera, 28, is a skilled mobile defenseman who reached or exceeded 23 points three times in his career, including a 44-point performance in 2013-14. He's also a responsible player in his own zone. He led the Carolina Hurricanes last season in blocked shots and was third this season.

    Prediction: The Kings are pressed for cap space. Unless they can shed salary, they probably can't afford to re-sign Sekera. Given the limited depth of talent in this summer's free-agent market, Sekera could land a five-year deal worth over $5 million per season.

6. Mikkel Boedker, Arizona Coyotes

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    Current contract: Arizona Coyotes right wing Mikkel Boedker is finishing a two-year contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $2.55 million. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: Boedker was on pace to exceed his career-best numbers (19 goals, 51 points in 82 games) when sidelined in January by a season-ending spleen injury. The Coyotes are rebuilding with youth. The 25-year-old Boedker fits that criterion and could be an invaluable leader for the Coyotes' younger players.

    Prediction: The Coyotes have the cap space to pay Boedker a suitable raise. They likely see him as one of their foundation players going forward. A five-year contract worth $5 million per season isn't out of the question.

5. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers

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    Current contract: Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau is coming off of an entry-level contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3.194 million in base salary and bonuses. He's a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: The 2013 Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year rebounded from last season's sophomore slump with career highs in goals (15), assists (39) and points (54). He had terrific late-season chemistry with linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr. 

    Prediction: Having re-signed Nick Bjugstad to a six-year contract extension, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will likely do the same for Huberdeau. The 21-year-old could be a key piece in the Panthers' long-term future. A six-year deal worth $5 million annually could be in the cards.

4. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild

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    Current contract: Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk is coming off a one-year contract worth $800,000. He's an unrestricted free agent. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: After joining the Wild in a mid-January trade from Arizona, Dubnyk saved the team's season with a stellar performance. Overall, the 29-year-old posted career highs in wins (36), shutouts (6), goals-against average (2.07) and save percentage (.929). Those numbers also ranked among this season's top-10 goaltenders. 

    Prediction: The Wild have over $59 million invested in salary-cap payroll for next season. A buyout of Niklas Backstrom could free up sufficient space to ink Dubnyk to a four-year deal worth around $5 million annually. 

3. Derek Stepan, New York Rangers

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    Current contract: New York Rangers center Derek Stepan is coming off of a two-year contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3.075 million. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: Though limited to 68 games by injury, the 24-year-old Stepan still managed 55 points. He's been a model of consistency for the Rangers, exceeding 50 points three times. Stepan's a skilled two-way center capable of playing on the first or second line.  

    Prediction: On March 23, the New York Post's Larry Brooks speculated that Stepan could get over $6 million in annual salary if his next contract is decided via arbitration. The Rangers should avoid that. They have limited cap space next season, but could get Stepan inked to a five-year extension worth around $5.5 million per season.

2. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

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    Current contract: Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is completing a two-year deal worth an annual salary-cap hit of $1.85 million. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: Holtby has emerged among the NHL's elite netminders. He enjoyed career highs in wins (41), shutouts (9), goals-against average (2.22) and save percentage (.923). Those numbers also ranked among the league's top-10 goaltenders this season.

    Prediction: With over $48 million of salary-cap payroll invested in 14 players next season, the Capitals can easily afford a big raise for Holtby. He's also only two years away from unrestricted free agency. To avoid that, the Capitals could lock him up to a six-year deal worth around $6.5 million annually.

1. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

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    Current contract: St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko is completing an entry-level contract worth $900,000 in base salary plus $850,000 in bonuses. He's a restricted free agent lacking arbitration rights. 

    Why he'll get a long-term deal: The 23-year-old Tarasenko had a breakout performance this season. His 37 goals and 73 points made him the Blues' leading scorer while ranking among the league's top-10 scorers. With over $57 million of next season's salary-cap payroll invested in 16 players, the Blues can afford to give Tarasenko a significant raise. 

    Prediction: Don't expect a two-year bridge contract for Tarasenko. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong tends to re-sign his best young players to long-term deals. A seven-year contract worth around $7 million per season could be in the works for Tarasenko.

    Player statistics via NHL.com. Salary information via NHLNumbers.com.