The next free agent Iíd like to look at is James Neal.
Neal will be a (soon to turn) 23 year old Restricted Free Agent next summer and will not be arbitration eligible. I believe he will have similar statistics next year scoring 20+ goals but less than 30, he could see a small rise in assists and points, and his ice time will probably be pretty similar.
At 23, Loui Eriksson (coming off a 14 goal/ 31 point regular season performance and a solid showing in the playoffs) signed for $1.6 million a year for 2 years ($1.5 and $1.7 million). I believe Nealís goal production (and the fact that he should repeat it) earns him a higher contract.
At 24, David Backes (coming off a 13 goal/ 31 point season) signed a 3 year, $2.5 million a year offer sheet. Offer sheets donít really reflect the true value of a player, but Backes and Neal are very similar. Plus, Neal should have 2 seasons of goal totals nearly double of what Backes was able to score. If Neal received an offer sheet, it would be higher than $2.5 million IMO.
My guess for Nealís contract is 3 years in the $2 to $2.5 million range.
I have to admit my primary motive of polling Stars fans on playersí contracts is to calculate a ridiculously early cap charge. Based on projections plus the 5% bump option by the NHLPA, next yearís cap could be $52.5 million.
I figured it was safe to assume Jamie Benn and Ivan Vishnevskiy will make the 2010-11 Dallas Stars.
If he repeats his production from last season, he should end up with a slightly better deal than Eriksson's last deal. Probably somewhere close to $1.8M or $2M. If he improves a good bit on last season, he could end up in the $2M to $2.5M range. Since he has no arbitration rights, the only way he will get substantially more than that is if he gets an offer sheet or scores 35 goals/60 points or something like that.
Most of the time, the Stars have only given NHL players coming off their ELC 2 years deals. Daley, Grossman, Ott, and Lundqvist all got 2 year deals. Fistric broke that model with his 3 year deal, but I think that one could fall in the category of too good for the team to pass up. And who knows what Nieuwendyk philosophy will be going forward...
I love Neal, but I think a small sophomore slump will be hard to avoid. So, I'll guess a 2 year at $1.9M cap hit. That's about 20% more than Eriksson's last deal.