FREE AGENT RAISE-O-ME­TER

There are plenty of well-known names heading to free agency, but only some will strike it rich. Who’s due for the big­gest pay hike – and cut?

The Hockey News - - BUZZ - BY MATT LARKIN

TRUCK BACK UP THE BRINKS

JOHN TAVARES

Tavares’ six-year deal with a $5.5-mil­lion AAV was a steal from Day 1. At that cap hit, he ended 2017-18 as the NHL’s 108th-rich­est player – but was the NHL’s sev­enth-lead­ing scorer over the course of the contract. As a UFA, Tavares should be­come the NHL’s sec­on­drich­est player be­hind Con­nor McDavid.

NOU­VEAU RICHE

RI­LEY NASH

Nash was a $900,000 player in 2017-18. He’ll be a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire by sum­mer’s end. He’s a phys­i­cal check­ing cen­ter who has the skill to han­dle scor­ing-line duty, as he proved every time he filled in for Pa­trice Berg­eron be­tween Brad Marc­hand and David Pas­tr­nak.

UP HOPE YOU SAVED

TO­MAS PLEKANEC

He av­er­aged $6 mil­lion the past two sea­sons but is now 35 and no longer a vi­able of­fen­sive cen­ter. He’s a two-way vet­eran whose scor­ing con­tri­bu­tions are gravy. Plekanec’s days of making com­par­a­tively big money have ended.

CAP­I­TAL TO GAIN

JOHN CARL­SON Carl­son’s a right-handed shot in his prime in a bru­tally bar­ren year for UFA blue­lin­ers, so his ser­vices couldn’t come at more of a pre­mium. Given that he logs mon­ster min­utes and led all D-men in scor­ing this sea­son, he de­serves at least $7 mil­lion an­nu­ally, but the suped-up mar­ket will bring him more than that.

TAK­ING A HAIR­CUT

PAUL STASTNY Stastny will still com­mand a pretty penny given he’s prob­a­bly the sec­ond-best cen­ter on the open mar­ket, but he fin­ishes up a contract with a $7-mil­lion AAV. No way he gets that much again at 32 – un­less some team out there is ma­ni­a­cally des­per­ate.

THERE BET­TER BE A DIS­COUNT

RICK NASH Nash man­aged just

59 goals in 198 games over Years 6 to 8 of his

$63-mil­lion deal. He was get­ting paid for a ser­vice he wasn’t pro­vid­ing. Teams should treat him as a 25-goal threat now and com­pen­sate him ac­cord­ingly.

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