Did you know a year in advance that P.K. Subban would get traded (again), Patrick Marleau would find his way back to San Jose, and Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky would split from Columbus after the playoffs?
We’re not guaranteeing all of these nine NHL predictions will come to pass in the next 365 days, but if you want to become a very rich fan, feel free to place a prop bet or six based on our supreme clairvoyance.
1. Backstrom stays, Holtby leaves
The salary cap has broken up more bands than creative differences. And with the mighty Washington Capitals laying claim to both the most proven impending UFA centreman, Nicklas Backstrom, and the most proven UFA goaltender, Braden Holtby, we find it difficult to see how all the pieces can fit.
Toss in the fact that Radko Gudas, a welcome addition to the back end, is also heading toward free agency, and that the cap ceiling is only supposed to rise by about $1 million, and there simply isn’t enough dough to go around.
Backstrom makes $6.7 million, well short of market value, and we take it as a positive sign that the veteran is acting as his own agent in negotiations with the franchise that has shown him loyalty. Talk has been quieter on the Holtby front, and the 30-year-old Cup winner would be in his rights to ask for a payday in the ballpark of Sergei Bobrovsky’s $70 million and negotiate down from there.
Holtby’s security has already survived the great Philipp Grubauer scare of 2018, but the Caps have another good one on the rise in 22-year-old first-rounder Ilya Samsonov. It’ll be time to give the affordable, young talent the net and let Holtby seek his raise elsewhere.