From MacKinnon to Scheifele: Seven of the NHL’s best value contracts

Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov chases Jets' Mark Scheifele during the NHL Global Series match in Helsinki, Finland on Thursday, November 1, 2018. (Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva via AP)

Every time the NHL salary cap rises, older contracts hold a little more value for the team that signed them. A rising cap brings contract inflation, so players with comparable point productions who signed their deals four years apart could have vastly different average annual values (AAV).

Because of this there are plenty of value contracts around the NHL. In coming up with this list below we stayed in the present, and took into account the AAV relative to today’s market. Some of these deals may not have been such steals when they were signed, but they sure are now.

We also considered term left on the deal — the best ones don’t just come with low cap hits for this season or next, but well into the future, too.

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Brad Marchand: $6.125 million through 2024-25

Signed just before the start of the 2016-17 NHL season, the Bruins locked in Marchand for the long-term just before he had a career-year. The agitator saw a 24-point year over year improvement that season, finishing with 39 goals and 85 points and has been a top five points-per-game player in the NHL ever since.

Nathan MacKinnon: $6.3 million through 2022-23

Though MacKinnon won the Calder Trophy after a 63-point rookie season, he followed it up with seasons of 38 and 52 points — closing out his entry-level contract nowhere near the player he has become since. He signed his seven-year deal in July of 2016 and was the 51st highest-paid NHLer at the time, but scored just 53 points in the first year of the contract and went through the first four seasons of his career with one 20-goal season. But the first overall pick in the 2013 draft arrived as one of the league’s best last season, scoring 39 goals and 97 points. Showing that wasn’t a fluke, he continues to centre the NHL’s highest scoring line and already has 56 points through 37 games.

John Klingberg: $4.25 million through 2021-22

A fifth-round pick in 2010, Klingberg had only played 65 NHL games when his entry-level contract ran its course, but posted 40 points and averaged 21:50 of ice time per game. He locked in to a seven-year extension that counted for 6.16 per cent of Dallas’ cap, which is a little less than Noah Hanifin got on his six year deal with the Flames this year. But since signing his deal, Klingberg is the fifth-highest scoring defenceman in the NHL and has evolved into Dallas’ No. 1, being entrusted with one of the heaviest workloads in the league.

Viktor Arvidsson: $4.25 million through 2023-24

There are a few notably great value contracts on the Predators roster — including Mattias Ekholm ($3.75 million) and Roman Josi ($4 million) — but considering Arvidsson just signed his deal in 2017 to lock in through the 2023-24 season, a contract providing incredible value already will just get better and better over the next five years. Arvidsson has averaged 30 goals and 61 points in each of the past two seasons and was on a point a game pace in 2018-19 before an injury forced him to the sidelines. Arvidsson won’t put up superstar numbers, but he brings a high level of consistency and productivity and his low AAV will help open up the Predators to more expensive options through the life of the contract.

Mark Scheifele: $6.125 million through 2023-24

It didn’t always look like Scheifele would be the dominant centre he is today. It’s easy to forget he was returned to junior two years in a row after being drafted seventh overall in 2011, and his point totals in his first three NHL seasons rose from 34 to 49 to 61. But it wasn’t until after he signed an eight-year deal in July of 2016 that he really exploded. Scheifele scored 82 points in 2016-17 and has been better than a point per game player since. He’s a top 20 player in both goals and assists since signing the deal.

Jonathan Marchessault: $5 million through 2023-24

Since coming out of nowhere with a 51-point season in 2016-17, Marchessault is the 38th-highest scoring forward in the NHL. But after being sent to Vegas in the expansion process and having a career-year, Marchessault signed a long-term extension months before becoming UFA eligible for a $5 million AAV that makes him tied for the 169th-highest paid player in the league.

Aleksander Barkov: $5.9 million through 2021-22

Although he hadn’t yet scored 40 points in a season when he signed in January of 2016, Barkov was in the midst of a career-high 28-goal campaign that started to etch his place in yearly Selke Trophy talk. He came the closest to claiming it just last season when he recorded a career-high 78 points and over the past two seasons no forward averages more than his 22:21 per game.


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