What could Alex DeBrincat's second contract with Blackhawks look like?

USA Today

What could Alex DeBrincat's second contract with Blackhawks look like?

It’s hard to remember an NHL offseason like 2019, where a plethora of superstars were all coming off their entry-level contracts and due significant pay raises.

Here were the notable restricted free agents: Sebastian Aho. Brock Boeser. Kyle Connor. Patrik Laine. Mitch Marner. Brayden Point. Mikko Rantanen. Matthew Tkachuk. And we haven’t even mentioned the defensemen.

It took a while, but all of them are now signed and it finally offers a clearer picture of the market going forward. This is important because the Blackhawks will be in a similar situation with Alex DeBrincat next season, and perhaps even Dylan Strome.

But let’s focus on DeBrincat for now because Strome’s next contract largely hinges on what he does this season. DeBrincat has built a big enough sample size to give us an idea of what his second contract may look like.

If there’s anything we learned about the contracts that were signed, it’s that each situation was different. Some players wanted long-term security. Others settled for bridge contracts in hopes of maxing out even more in three years, when the NHL signs a new U.S. television rights deal, which could lead to a significant salary cap increase. 

One thing was consistent: the average annual value was high. Let's take a look at each of the players listed above and what their figures came in at, sorted by cap hit from highest to lowest:

— Marner: 6 years, $10.893 million AAV
— Rantanen: 6 years, $9.25 million AAV
— Aho: 5 years, $8.454 million AAV
— Connor: 7 years, $7.142 AAV
— Tkachuk: 3 years, $7 million AAV
— Laine: 2 years, $6.75 million AAV
— Point: 3 years, $6.75 million AAV
— Boeser: 3 years, $5.875 million AAV

So where does DeBrincat fit into all of this? For starters, it depends on what he’s looking for.

For example: Connor and Tkachuk carry similar cap hits, but you have to believe Tkachuk’s number would’ve been higher if he went for seven years too. Instead, Tkachuk wants to bet on himself and cash out in 2022-23 while Connor wanted security.

The other part of it is: Which category does DeBrincat fall into? Does he belong in the Marner and Rantanen AAV range, both of whom are elite wingers?

DeBrincat has 69 goals and 128 points through two seasons. For comparison, Marner had 41 goals and 130 points before turning in a 26-goal, 94-point season in Year 3 and Rantanen had 49 goals and 122 points before his 31-goal, 87-point campaign last season. The third year for Marner and Rantanen really launched themselves into a hefty second contract.

The difference between DeBrincat and Marner/Rantanen is that the latter are playmakers while the former is more of a pure goal scorer. While DeBrincat may not be a perennial 90-plus point player, he will score 35-40 every year and that's certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Based on a production standpoint, Laine — a three-time 30-goal scorer but whose career high in points is 70 — might be a better contract comparable for DeBrincat but you have to wonder how much his inconsistency in 2018-19 affected his deal. Laine scored 18 of his 30 goals last season in November after coming off a 44-goal campaign. 

If DeBrincat scores another 40 (or close to it) and finishes with 75-80 points, the length of his contract won’t be clear but his number will be and it’s likely to start with at least a 7. On a longer term deal, it very well could creep into the $8-9 million range.

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NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

USA Today

NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

The NHL general managers meetings are set to begin next week and one of the topics on the docket to be discussed may be emergency backup goalie (EBUG) procedures. The recent interest in reevaluating EBUG rules come after 42-year-old David Ayres suited up to play for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs this past weekend.

The issue of EBUGs comes up so rarely that NHL GMs don’t typically give it much thought. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke about EBUGs this Tuesday during the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets game.

“It's something we've given some consideration to over the years. As recently as last year, we discussed [it] with the general managers. It happens very, very rarely, but when it happens, it obviously raises everybody's attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue,” he explained. “We have to work with the [NHL] Players' Association. Who's a player? Who's not a player? What qualifies all of that? But obviously we want what's best for the game, and we want to make sure people aren't putting themselves in danger by playing goal in a National Hockey League game. ... So that's obviously something we have to continue to work through."

Currently, the 2019-20 NHL official rules state, “if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible."

Ayres drives the Zamboni at the Mattamy Athletic Center in Toronto and frequently practices with the Leafs. Ayres stepped in the net after Hurricanes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured. He made eight saves and is the oldest goalie in NHL history to make his regular season debut.

The Blackhawks had their own instance of needing an EBUG in 2018 against the Winnipeg Jets. Scott Foster, a then-36-year-old accountant stepped in the net at the United Center after Corey Crawford and Collin Delia were sidelined by injury. Foster saved all seven shots on goal, making him the first EBUG to make a save and a hometown hero in Chicago. 

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How Blackhawks are trying to stay upbeat despite roster subtractions

How Blackhawks are trying to stay upbeat despite roster subtractions

ST. LOUIS — The NHL trade deadline is a unique time of year for fans because it serves as a chance to get a read on what the management group feels about your respective team's current state.

There are the buyers who feel they're good enough to make a deep postseason run, the sellers who admit they're looking more towards the future and the ones who stand pat because they're somewhere in between. But to what degree is telling as well.

For example, the Columbus Blue Jackets went for it all last season by acquiring Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and two other players in exchange for a roster player, three prospects and seven draft picks that included a pair of first- and second-rounders, fully knowing all four players could walk away for nothing in the summer. And they did.

Last season, the Blackhawks stood pat. They didn’t have many assets to sell, but they were knocking on the door of a playoff spot and decided to let it ride.

This season was a different story.

Erik Gustafsson and Robin Lehner were traded in separate deals for asset management purposes, and intentionally or not, the message was sent that the Blackhawks weren't good enough to keep the group together for a legitimate playoff push. Despite how deflating the roster subtractions could make them feel, the Blackhawks are trying to maintain a positive attitude for the remainder of the season.

"No letdown, no taking any steps back," Jonathan Toews said before Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to the Blues. "Stay on your routine, stay on your commitment, keeping that upbeat feel in the locker room and going out there having fun, working hard and putting your best foot forward [for] a win and getting two points every night, so that's all we can do."  

Head coach Jeremy Colliton commended his group for how they reacted to the outside distractions leading up to the trade deadline. He expects them to respond after it.

"It's our job to compete at the highest level," Colliton said. "I give the guys credit, those two games before the deadline we responded really well to the uncertainty. Pulling a player at the last second and they played hard, and that's what we expect going forward. The team-first priorities at all times and sticking together and playing to the end no matter what. If we do that, we'll get our results and let's see what happens."

It would take a miraculous run for the Blackhawks to make the playoffs at this point after falling below .500 based on points percentage following Tuesday's loss to the Blues. But they're not waving the white flag just yet, even though it would psychologically be easy to pack it in.

"You always want to be in the hunt and just fighting for a playoff spot," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously we'd have to go on a pretty big run to make the playoffs this year, but just take it a game at a time here. We've been playing pretty well as a team to be honest with you. I know the results haven't been there, but we've been playing pretty good, we've been playing some tough teams. I think if we continue on this turn we're probably going to get better results down the stretch."  

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