Islanders Mid-Season Contract Predictions For RFA’s
By Matt O'Leary
The New York Islanders have three RFA’s who are due a new deal after the season. I’ll make a midseason prediction on what each will be.
While we still wait for Islanders hockey to return, I find my mind wandering to the future. Yes, I’m still worried about how this team finishes the rest of the season, I’m begging on my hands and knees for Lou Lamoriello to make a trade.
At the same time, I can’t help but look at the end of the season, when the Islanders have three important RFA deals to take care of.
We’re 49 games through the season, a reasonable sample size for each player to make a prediction on what their next contract is going to be.
Mat Barzal has 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists) which is a pace of 70 on the season. It’s a minor step forward from his production last year and would be the second time in three years he hit the 70+ point plateau.
With Barzal, I don’t think he gets a bridge deal. He’s someone you want to offer the max of eight years and let that deal become a bargain in three years or so.
It may seem high, but eight-years at $80 million ($10 million AAV) is probably pretty likely. It’s what Jack Eichel signed a couple of years ago and what Anze Kopitar signed in 2016 and with the cap continuing to go up anything less than $10 million is a steal for Barzal.
By the halfway point of this contract, Barzal’s age 26 season, it won’t seem like a lot of money.
Pulock is on pace to crack 40 points for the first time in his career and 30 for the third year in a row. He’s a good top-pair righty shooting defenseman with a cannon of a shot. It’s going to cost a pretty penny.
If Rasmus Andersson just got $4.55 million per year, it’s going to take at least $6 million to get Pulock locked in on an extension. For comparison, I look to Ryan Ellis who just signed an eight-year $50 million ($6.25 million) contract.
For Pulock, I’ll say six-years, $39 million ($6.5 million AAV). For a potential 40-50 point righty defenseman, you’d sign up for that in a heartbeat.
Toews is a tough one to predict for me. He’ll turn 26 next month, but this is only his second year in the league. He’ll likely finish with 30+ points this year, after near-identical production (18 points in 49 games vs 18 points in 38 games last year).
Toews might take another bridge deal. Of the three, I’d bet on Toews being the one to get another two-year deal. Right now, he’d probably get $4-$5 million AAV on a five year or more contract. Maybe go, two-years $8.5 million ($4.25 million AAV).
He’d be betting on himself. After his contract expires he’d be UFA eligible and could potentially see a nice payday vs taking a more team-friendly longer-term extension right now.
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All of these are subject to change as the year goes on but as of now, that’s how I’d expect the RFA contracts to go this summer. Hopefully, nobody is holding out and missing time.