Evolving Hockey has finally released their contract projections. They have a tremendous track record with these projections, proving to be eerily accurate, even with the uncertainty that Covid-19 provided last offseason.
And that’s great news for Blues fans. We are gearing up for a very stressful summer, with a lot of contracts expiring and a lot of tough decisions to be made. And, uh... these projections won’t ease any concern.
What to expect this summer
To get the full experience, definitely check out Evolving Hockey. They have projections for every pending-free agent and show how different term could change the price of a deal. For the sake of this article, we’ll break the signings into three groups.
Hey, Not too Bad - Signing Under $2 million
Players: Ivan Barbashev, Tyler Bozak, Jacob de La Rose, Carl Gunnarsson, Dakota Joshua, Steven Santini
The first group is about to be expected, with players that are nearing retirement or don’t have much leverage. But Tyler Bozak’s inclusion might be a bit of a surprise. He is projected to make $1.338 million on a one-year deal. That’s a nice deal, given the Blues cap-crunch. Blues fans have gone up-and-down on Bozak this year but he adds much-needed depth. If he is willing to sign for this cheap, how could anyone say no?
Yeah, That’s About Right - $2 million to $3.5 million
Players: Vince Dunn, Jordan Kyrou, Zach Sanford, Robert Thomas
Again, not much in the way of surprise. Although it’s worth mentioning that Robert Thomas is projected to be the cheapest among this group, with him and Vince Dunn making up the two extremes. That’s interesting, as there’s a very valid case to be made for Thomas being the best among the group. But, then again, none of the quartet are expected to sign for longer than three years.
Bridge deals definitely make sense. The Blues have a lot of cap tied up in their defense right now, that should be alleviated in a few years. Bridge deals would give the team a bit more breathing room before signing these future-stars to bigger deals.
Well, that’s it? - $4.75 million to $6 million
Players: Mike Hoffman, Jaden Schwartz
This isn’t shocking but it’s nice to see that the two big names this summer may not cost too much. Evolving Hockey provides a percentage likelihood of a player signing a certain deal. The highest-percentage deals for Mike Hoffman see him coming in between $5.5 and $5.8 million, on a deal that will lead him to the end of his career. Jaden Schwartz is projected to reach the upper-$4 million rank but his chance of breaking into $5 million isn’t particularly high.
That’s reassuring! Well, kinda. Knowing that Schwartz isn’t likely to break the bank with a $6 million deal gives the Blues a little breathing room.
Where that leaves us
If ever player re-signed for their projected value, the Blues will end up roughly $5 million over the salary cap. That leaves a tough choice to be made. Do the Blues part with cheaper options like Dunn and Sanford? Or do they make the tough decision between Schwartz and Sanford?
A lot is bound to change and young talent like Klim Kostin, Scotty Perunovich, Jake Walman, and Niko Mikkola will certainly force some hands. As will the expansion draft, which could very easily steal away one of the players in the aforementioned mid-tier. But for a Blues team that’s had a roller coaster year, maybe a wild summer will shake things up for the better.