Free-agent stock watch: Left-handed defensemen
With the new year upon us, the NHL season is in full swing. Teams are jockeying for playoff position, and many players with expiring contracts across the NHL are playing games that could ultimately determine what type of payday they might receive in the summer.
In a multi-part series, we’ll take a look at each position group of the upcoming free agent class and do a rundown on how those upcoming unrestricted free agents have performed this year. Which players have increased their odds of landing a massive contract? Which players have potentially hurt their earning potential with their play? We’ll break it all down here. 메이저놀이터
The Marquee Names
While Gostisbehere may not be the traditional free-agent “marquee name” whose acquisition can shape the fortunes of an entire franchise, his play as an Arizona Coyote has solidified his status as one of the top left-shot free-agent defensemen in his class.
Gostisbehere arrived in Arizona in the summer of 2021 with his former team, the Philadelphia Flyers, paying draft picks to the Coyotes in exchange for Arizona taking on Gostisbhere’s $4.5M cap hit.
After scoring 65 points in 2017-18, Gostisbehere’s descent from stardom was rapid, and his warts in his own end combined with declining offense forced his way out of favor in the Flyers organization.
While the trade to the Coyotes at one point seemed to be rock bottom for Gostisbehere’s professional career, the deal seems to have actually served as the catalyst for a career rebirth. Gostisbehere scored 14 goals and 51 points last season, which ranked him in the top-15 in defensive scoring.
It was the inconsistency of Gostisbehere’s production that caused him major issues in Philadelphia, but thankfully he has continued his strong play into this year as well. In 37 games so far this season Gostisbehere has 26 points, which is a 58-point full-season pace.
He’ll never be someone coaches trust for his play in his own end or away from the puck, but using the case of Tony DeAngelo as an example, it’s clear defensemen in Gostisbehere’s mold are valued leaguewide
Gostisbehere’s former team parted with multiple draft picks in order to acquire DeAngelo, who like Gostisbehere is a supremely talented and productive offensive defenseman without much off-puck or defensive value. It’s possible that in his trip to unrestricted free agency, Gostisbehere views the $5M AAV DeAngelo makes to be his target on any new contract.
Given that Gostisbehere, who will be 30 in April, was just two years ago seen as a salary cap deadweight at a $4.5M AAV, the possibility of him now receiving a new contract above that cap hit on the open market would be the perfect culmination of what has been a stunning career revival.