Number 2: Nick Leddy
Nick Leddy has one more year of a seven-year $38.5 million deal remaining. While the first few years of that contract looked like great value, Leddy has seen a seemingly inexplicable regression since the second half of 2017-2018.
To be fair, he’s coming off his most productive offensive season in a while. He had 31 points in 56 games which paces out to 45 points over a full season.
He’s still a puck-moving defenseman that can play upwards of 21 minutes. Some teams value that, even if he has seemed to lose a step over the past couple of years. He may be a player who would thrive in a more offensive system.
Number 1: Jordan Eberle
Most teams aren’t exposing top-line players but the Islanders kind of have to. Eberle has three years left at $5.5 million. This past season, playing alongside Mat Barzal, Eberle had 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 55 games.
Over the past two years, Eberle has 73 points and 32 goals in 113 games. That’s a pace of 53 points and 23 goals. If you want someone who can give you 50 points on the wing then Seattle may claim him despite the term and AAV.
As for the Islanders, they probably wouldn’t be crying about freeing up a $5.5 million cap hit. Plus Barzal could probably use a change on his wing anyway.
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Most of the NHL is dealing with salary cap issues due to the flat cap once again. The expansion draft could be a useful tool for teams to strategically leave bigger money guys exposed in hopes that they are chosen.