Andersson, 23, was due to become a restricted free agent in the summer but is now signed for all of his RFA-eligible years plus his first two years of unrestricted free agency. For a young defenceman just starting to show what he can be in the NHL, that’s really nice security.
“It’s about so much money and security and I just wanted to go out and play and didn’t want to think about this anymore, so we felt like we came to an agreement this morning and it was a pretty easy decision to make,” Andersson said after putting pen to paper.
Andersson has seen his ice time increase every season with the Flames and is now up to over 19 minutes a game, which is third highest on the team. He is also a key player on the second power-play unit, and has three goals and 12 points this season.
But this contract is more about what Andersson can be for the Flames in the future. General manager Brad Treliving has some questions to answer about his blue line this summer, with both T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic set to hit the open market on July 1, so locking up a young, right-shot defenceman long-term gives the GM some clarity ahead of an important off-season.
“There’s always projections involved, but he’s a good player who is only going to get better,” Treliving said. “What people don’t see is he’s a real competitive guy. The kind you want in your organization. You can never have enough of that. To get him locked in at that number… good deal for him. Nice to have that security at 23. And I think it will be a good deal for us.”
Andersson’s long-term contract follows a recent trend that is seeing young defencemen get paid early to give themselves and their teams peace of mind. Here are some other comparable contracts that can help explain how the Flames and Andersson settled on the number they did, and some upcoming restricted free agent defencemen who might benefit from Andersson’s contract.
All financial details courtesy of CapFriendly.com.
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes
Six-years, $27.6 million, $4.6 million cap hit | Signed Nov. 18, 2018 (age 20)
The closest comparable to Andersson is Chychrun, whose second contract is the same length and carries a similar cap hit. It also carries Chychrun to unrestricted free agency, like Andersson’s contract does.
The only notable difference between the two is Chychrun made his NHL debut at age 18, which made him eligible to sign an extension earlier than Andersson.
Chychrun needed a couple seasons to establish himself in the NHL due to some injuries, but now in his fourth-season — and first on this contract — he is emerging as a key player for the Coyotes. Chychrun is already one point from setting a career-high in points this season and has 10 goals for the first time. He is also averaging over 22 minutes of ice time — third best on the team — and seeing time on both the power play and penalty kill.
If Chychrun’s current production keeps up, this contract will soon look like a steal for Arizona. The Flames are hoping to get a similar bargain with Andersson.
Brian Dumoulin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Six-years, $24.6 million, $4.1 million cap hit | Signed July 24, 2017 (age 25)
Dumoulin isn’t flashy but he’s seen his role with the Penguins grow every season and has been Kris Letang’s primary partner since 2016-17. While he doesn’t get a ton of power-play time, Dumoulin does kill penalties and has had a positive plus-minus rating in all but one of his five NHL seasons.
This contract was Dumoulin’s third after he burned most of his entry-level deal in the AHL but was signed after he had played a similar number of NHL games to Andersson.
Like the Penguins with Letang, the Flames have Mark Giordano locked up as their No. 1 at close to $7 million. And also like the Penguins, the Flames are in win-now mode thanks to a strong core of players up and down the lineup. So slotting Andersson in at $4.55 million gives Calgary depth long-term but also some flexibility, especially if he can give them the minutes and positive impact Dumoulin brings to the Penguins.
Noah Hanifin, Calgary Flames
Six-years, $29.7 million, $4.9 million cap hit | Signed Aug. 30, 2018 (age 21)
If Andersson’s contract looks familiar to Flames fans, that’s because Treliving has already signed a young defenceman to a similar deal. Hanifin’s second contract came only a few weeks after he was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes, but it was a chance for the Flames to bet on a player with lots of upside.
Hanifin brings a bit more offence to his game than Andersson and has posted at least 29 points in each of the last three seasons. He is also used in all situations — including the penalty kill — and his 21:26 ice time per game is second on the team.
With Brodie and Hamonic potentially departing at the end of the season and Giordano now 36, Andersson and Hanifin represent the future of the Flames defence. To have them locked in for a combined $9.45 million for the long-term gives the team some stability to build around.
While Andersson is off the board, there are still a number of notable restricted free agent defencemen looking for new deals.
Leading the pack is Darnell Nurse in Edmonton, a 25-year-old top-pairing guy currently playing on a two-year bridge deal. However, with the Oilers needing to answer lots of questions up front, and already locked into some high-paying contracts on the blue line, another bridge deal might be in Nurse’s future.
The Oilers also have to negotiate a new agreement with rookie Ethan Bear, who has emerged as a reliable player for them this season after two seasons in the AHL.
Travis Dermott of the Maple Leafs is in a similar position. The Maple Leafs have close to $50 million committed to their forwards for next season but only two defencemen signed beyond this year — which could make it difficult for the team to commit to more than a bridge deal.
Erik Cernak with the Lightning could be the closest comparable for an Andersson-type contract. The 23-year-old is coming off his entry-level contract, averages close to 18 minutes a game and kills a lot of penalties. While he doesn’t put up a ton of points, Cernak is a reliable defenceman on a team looking to win now and locking him up long-term at a reasonable price will give the team peace of mind as some older defencemen move out.
Some other defenders set to become restricted free agents this summer that could get similar deals to Andersson include Vince Dunn (Blues), Mikhail Sergachev (Lightning), Victor Mete (Canadiens), Ryan Graves (Avalanche), Marcus Pettersson (Penguins) and Devon Toews (Islanders).