Also posted today is a set of polls with your chance to play Ron Francis for the free agency. I will also post my thoughts in a free agency preview either at lunch time or tonight.
Wednesday was pure madness and excitement for the NHL. It only took about an hour away from digital media to miss Taylor Hall being traded for Adam Larsson, P.K. Subban being traded for Shea Weber and Steven Stamkos re-signing with Tampa Bay.
My post for Wednesday morning offered a scenario for the Canes to steal Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I added a short update on the situation after the Taylor Hall trade. The post also included a poll that had a significant percent (but importantly not the majority) say they would trade Faulk for Hall.
Amidst all of the fireworks the past few days, a few lesser events happened which could expedite the process of re-signing Victor Rask.
Reference points from past few days
–On Tuesday, 21-year old Filip Forsberg re-signed with Nashville for 6 years at $6 million per year. Forsberg is similar to Rask in age and NHL experience, but is not a direct comparable. Forsberg’s 63 and 64 points over the past 2 seasons are significantly higher than Rask’s 33 and 48 points over the same time frame in a similar number of games. Because of the different production levels, it is hard to pinpoint a comparable value for Rask, but I think something like $4.5 million or less could be figured.
–On Wednesday, we actually received a better comparable. 22-year old Tomas Hertl from San Jose re-signed for 2 years at $3 million per year. Hertl has 2 1/2 years of NHL experience (so slightly more than Rask’s 2 years). In the past 2 years, his scoring totals of 31 and 46 points are very similar to Rask’s totals.
–Also on Wednesday, Jason Zucker was re-signed for 2 years at $2 million per year. After 26 points in 51 games in 2014-15 (basically 40ish point pace), Zucker slumped to only 23 points in 71 games. As a player trending downward, Zucker is not a great comparable but somewhat like Forsberg he sets a lower-end reference point.
Time to strike while the iron is hot and the numbers are favorable
I think the Hertl contract puts the ball on the tee for Francis to re-sign Rask to a favorable deal. I have estimated Rask’s deal at $3-4 million per year partly depending on term and partly just negotiating. With a similar age, similar production player in Hertl coming in at only $3 million, I think Francis can make a decent case for 3-4 years at $3.3 (3 years, $10 million) or maybe $3.5 million (4 years at $13.5 million) per year. I think that is a decent term and price in terms of risk/reward.
Rask is a sound all-around/defensive player who slots well on a third line. His 48 points in 2015-16 are pretty good production for that role. $3-3.5 million per year is not dirt cheap, but it is a fair price for that role, so the risk of it turning into a bad contract is minimal. On top of that, there is upside if Rask continues to grow especially offensively. He jumped from 33 points to 48 between his first and second year. If Rask could take 1 more similar step up to 55-60 points, his production and skill set would be that of a pretty solid second-line center but with a price that is a few million dollars short of that.
Plus the marketing
There is no incredible rush, but at some point this summer Ron Francis will reach terms and re-sign Victor Rask. Francis has suggested a couple times that he is not a big fan of shopping during the chaos and often inflated prices on July 1. But July 1 is a day when all of the die-hard fans will be close to the internet and Twitter to check in to see what is happening. If Francis is otherwise quiet in terms of shopping the free agent market, a Rask announcement would make for great feel-good news for the fan base. It is not as if he would be doing a deal for the sake of doing a deal.
If nothing else, especially the Hertl signing should help Francis and Rask’s agent hone in on an acceptable salary for each side.
How about a Victor Rask announcement at about 2pm on Friday, July 1 with a new deal for a very reasonable 3 years for $9-10 million total ($3-3.3 million per year) or 4 years for $13-14 million total ($3.3-3.5 million per year)?