Who’s at fault for the NHL lockout is a pointless discussion. Both sides deserve the same amount of blame for not finding any common ground on the core economic issues.
Leading up to the lockout, though, a number of players and owners were winners in the past 72 to 48 hours as an interesting dynamic is how the uncertainty of the CBA led to so many long-term signings of restricted free agents and players with one year left on their contract in the final hours before the CBA expired on Sunday morning at 12:01 a.m.
What we saw here was some teams getting good bargains on long-term deals for core players like in Washington with John Carlson signing a 6 year, $23.8 million contract and a number of players making out very well with long-term security from the likes of Evander Kane and Kari Lehtonen.
The uncertainty of the new CBA brought an urgency for teams and the players to get deals done that would not have been there if a lockout wasn’t going to happen. In fact, since Saturday, September 8th, NHL teams combined to dish out over $220 million in contracts to almost 20 players. The big winners could end up being the owners of these particular teams who locked up a core player at the last minute for multi-years than might get the benefit of salary rollback for that contract if Gary Bettman gets his way of salary rollbacks from the players for when a new CBA is agreed upon.
Last minute signings on Friday and Saturday before CBA expired on Sunday morning
*Forward Evander Kane signed a 6 year, $31.5 million contract extension with the Winnipeg Jets. Kane had a career-high 30 goals and 57 points in 74 games last season — Is Evander Kane a five million a year player? I’m not sure but this is an important signing for the Jets who are not going to lure top free agents to Winnipeg.
*Goaltender Kari Lehtonen signed 5 year, $29.5 million contract extension on Friday — A pricey signing for the Stars but Lehtonen has found a comfort zone in Dallas.
*The Washington Capitals resigned defenseman John Carlson to a 6 year, $23.8 million extension – With the rising prices of signing a top-4 defenseman, this was a great deal for the Capitals, while Carlson gets long-term security.
*Winger Shane Doan signed a 4 year, $21.2 million contract with the Phoenix Coyotes — Out of this group we’ve mentioned, Doan was the only UFA.
*Defenseman Cam Fowler signed a 5 year, $20 million contract extension with Ducks — The 20-year-old had five goals and 24 assists with the Ducks last season, appearing in all 82 games. He also averaged 23:15 of ice time per game. The Ducks get a potential star locked up in Fowler with a cap hit at just $4 million per season.
*Winger Alexander Burrows signed a 4 year, $18 million contract extension with the Canucks – Some believed that if Shane Doan would have picked the Canucks, there would have been no extension for the 31 year old Burrows before the CBA expired. Signing Burrows for another four years is a win for the Canucks over Doan accepting their four year deal.
*Winger Milan Lucic signed a 3 year, $18 million contract extension with Bruins — One of NHL premier power forwards at age 24, Lucic becomes the Bruins highest paid forward.
*Defenseman Kevin Klein signed a 5 year, $14.5 million contract extension with the Predators — A solid defenseman who gets long-term security.
*The New York Islanders and forward Matt Martin agreed to a 4 year, $4 million contract.
*Forward Craig Smith signed a 2 year, $4 million extension with the Nashville Predators.
*The Buffalo Sabres resigned Forward Tyle Ennis to 2 year, $5.625 million contract.