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Best Contract On The Books: Tom Wilson

October 22, 2020, 9:56 AM ET [0 Comments]
Brian Sickles
Washington Capitals Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Hello All,

News relative to the Capitals has been relatively quiet this week. With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at some of the contracts on the books. Today I am looking at three contracts I like. Next post I will be assessing three contacts on the books I am not a fan of. Before I even defend why I like some of these contracts, I will be openly candid and say it was difficult me to really choose any contract I was overwhelming excited about. A lot of the contracts on the books are bad, some of them are just “meh”, and then there are a handful of them I like. The Capitals do not have any overwhelmingly amazing contracts on the books. An example of an amazing contract to me is something like Seth Jones on the Blue Jackets with two years left at a $5.4 million AAV. The guy could easily be top-three in Norris voting next season. That is a steal.

Here are three contracts I like:

1. Tom Wilson - 4 years left, $5.16 Million AAV
2. Lars Eller – 3 years left, $3.5 Million AAV
3. Henrick Lundqvist – 1 year deal, $1.5 million AAV

Tom Wilson - Say what you want about Tom Wilson, but he has cleaned up his act since the Oskar Sundqvist hit and suspension from the 2018-2019 preseason. The league came down on him hard and deservedly so! I believe Tom Wilson genuinely learned from this experience and he took it as an opportunity to grow both as a hockey player and an individual. Since returning from 14-game suspension on November 13th, 2018, Wilson has not had one egregious hit or penalty that has even warranted consideration of a hearing from the league. He still plays physical but never crosses the line anymore. He slows up on hits where he would have previously tried to kill a guy on the ice. Following his suspension to start 2018-2019, Tom Wilson had a career year and put up 22-18-40 in 63 games played (.634 points per game). For 2019-2020, he posted a 21-23-44 stat line in 68 games played. This averages out to .647 points per game. Since he returned from the suspension, Wilson ranks 55th across the entire league with 43 goals. That is tied with TJ Oshie, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Sidney Crosby. Anders Lee has an AAV of $7 million per year. Brock Nelson has an AAV of $6 million a year. Tom Wilson even has more points than Lee in less games played during that span of time. Wilson has the opportunity to be a real stud in a Peter Laviolette system that is typically known for offensive production. I think Wilson has potential to hit 30-35 goals in a normal 82-game regular season.

I would also like to point out there was a point of time when the Capitals for years were cycling guys out of the first-line RW role trying to find a best fit opposite of Ovechkin. Here are the some of the names…Semin, Erat (woof), Fehr, Brouwer, Beagle, Ward, Burakovsky, Chimera, and Johansson. They could never get a perfect fit. I think it’s pretty funny that of all people to be the best fit to play opposite of the greatest goal scorer of all-time, it’s Tom Wilson. Make no mistake, they play very well together! In terms of the money, yes, there are better contracts in the league compared to Wilson’s. But there are also a ton of bad contracts for players at similar positions (Loui Erickson, Kyle Okposo, Jeff Skinner, Milan Lucic, Josh Anderson…I could go all day). I like this contract because of the current and potential point production Wilson brings to the table, his fit and experience with Ovechkin, and lastly the overall dollar amount.

Lars Eller – Lars Eller is coming off a career best 39 points and he did it in only 69 games. He previous best was 38 points in 81 games back in 2017-2018. He almost always plays third-line center but he will move up to the second if there are injuries. Eller is as consistent as they come. In his four years in Washington, Eller has posted 25, 38, 36, and 39 points. The Capitals third line of Eller, Hagelin, and Panik are ranked third best third-line in the league by dailyfaceoff.com. All three players are locked in for three more years. More Laviolette optimism here but I think this line continues to produce and potentially even scores more in the future. We just started to see Panik get comfortable toward the end of the season. If he can get going and this line can continue to produce, all three of these players contracts will look like great deals.

Henrick Lundqvist – For a seasoned veteran like Lundqvist. $1.5 million cap hit is a great deal. The Capitals were able to maneuver this because Lundqvist was bought out by the Rangers. Lundqvist is owed $5.5 million this year by Rangers. That buy-out alone is more than a lot of goalies make in the market right now. This gave Lundqvist the flexibility to sign for less with a contender. It is a win-win for both parties. Lundqvist gets paid and the Capitals get an experienced veteran goalie who gives you a chance to win. Lundqvist is certainly declining and coming off a career worst year but for $1.5 million, it is a gamble most contenders probably make to add goaltending depth. I am excited to see what Lundqvist can do on a more competitive team this year. The Rangers defense wasn’t doing him any favors last year.

Thoughts? Which of the bigger name contracts do you like on the team right now?

As always, thanks for reading! GO CAPS
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