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Free agents: we realize how expensive defensemen are in the NHL
Connor Clifton, 3 years / $3.33 M per season.

Justin Holl, 3 years / $3.4 M per season.

Radko Gudas, 3 years / $4M per season.

Erik Johnson, 1 year / $3.25 M.

Ian Cole, 1 year / $3M.

Carson Soucy, 3 years / $3.25 M per season.

Niko Mikkola, 3 years / $2.5 M per season.

Dmitry Orlov, 2 years / $7.75 M per season.

Ryan Graves, 6 years / $4.5 M per season.

On this opening day of the free-agent market, we realize one thing in particular.

Defenders have paid their dues.

In the end, it just goes to show how expensive a good defenseman can be. After all, the names I’ve mentioned don’t necessarily include any superstars, as you might expect…

And the guys will still earn a significant amount of money over the next few years. There are easy connections to be made with the CH, which will see Justin Barron, Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj, Lane Hutson, David Mailloux and even David Reinbacher out of contract in the next few years.

Yes, the payroll is likely to increase over the next three, four, even five years. But…

Kent Hughes had better play his cards right, or his hands could be tied at some point. Of course, he won’t be able to keep all the defensemen I’ve mentioned, but the parallel is interesting nonetheless.

Especially in view of the fact that, up front, guys like Suzuki and Caufield are already getting a lot of money. Dach should also receive a nice salary increase if he continues to perform like he did in 2022-2023 :

(Credit: Cap Friendly)

It’s not for next year, we agree.

But I’m thinking that if the market for defensemen looks like this right now, and in a few years, the salary cap is going to go up…

It could be even worse. It’s been said over and over again: you win championships with defensive players, and the GMs know that very well.

Does this explain why the Habs drafted David Reinbacher?

It also explains why so much money is spent on defensemen who can do the job in the NHL.

The time for big decisions may not be here yet, but it’s going to happen faster than we think. Until then, Kent Hughes needs to make the right choices… and I’m not worried that he knows it.

It will be interesting to see the GM’s plan and the salary structure with which he decides to build his club in the coming seasons.

In brief

– One year in Toronto.

– It’s a big contract.

– Things are hopping in New York.

– Lars Eller gets a job.

– Nicely done.

– Small contract in New Jersey.

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