Have a contract year like Viktor Arvidsson had for the Predators and you'll be celebrating like this, too.
Pro hockey players are judged by their performances every season, month, week, game and shift.
Scrutiny intensifies, especially from GMs, during contract years. With free agency looming, a strong season could be the deciding factor that results in a lucrative, long-term contract as a team decides a player will be part of its core for the next five seasons or more.
For prospects about to exit their entry-level contracts (ELCs), a poor campaign could result in a show-me offer (or bridge contract) for a year or two or three in which the young player is expected to show he deserves more money and a longer term. If a team doesn’t see much potential in a player after an unimpressive season, he might find himself moving on.
We examined the Eastern Conference last weekend to see which soon-to-be-FA prospects helped or hurt their contract situations. This week, we feature select prospects from every team in the Western Conference:
LW Nicolas Kerdiles, 23 RFA: The 2012 second-round draft pick had a disappointing season, but it wasn’t his fault. Lingering concussion symptoms kept him out of action until the end of January, after which he posted seven goals and 15 points in 27 AHL games. His aggressive nature was reflected in 25 PIMs. Kerdiles helped his contract status with four goals and four assists for the San Diego Gulls in eight post-season games. Six PIMs further hint that he hasn’t abandoned his edgy style due to the concussion. Outlook: A short-term contract offer.
G Kevin Boyle, 24 RFA: An undrafted NCAA signing, the UMass grad had better numbers in the AHL than the ECHL. No. 1 for the Utah Grizzlies, he was called up to the AHL’s Gulls in mid-season when both San Diego goalies were hurt. Boyle, who returned to Utah, finished 9-6 overall with a 2.69 GAA and .908 save percentage. Outlook: His 10-5-1 record for the Gulls, with 2.27 and .924 peripherals, guarantees the Ducks will offer a short-term deal while they gauge what kind of future Boyle might have in Anaheim.
RW/LW Teemu Pulkkinen, 25 RFA: Already abandoned by Detroit and Minnesota, the sublimely skilled yet maddeningly inconsistent Finn likely did enough to earn a short-term contract offer. As well as a goal in four games for Arizona, he had 18 goals and 36 points in 47 AHL games. Outlook: The next season or two in the desert will decide whether he has a successful NHL career or possibly returns to Europe.
LW, Mitch Moroz, 23 RFA: The Oilers gave up on their would-be power forward when they dealt him to Arizona for disappointing former first-rounder Henrik Samuelsson. After three points in 17 AHL games before the trade, Moroz showed his excitement with a paltry six points in 24 games with his new AHL team. Outlook: The 6-2, 214-pounder’s truculence comes with a history of bad penalties and not many points. He’s just 23, and could be on the move again.
G Jon Gillies, 23 RFA: The 2012 third-rounder got into his first NHL game, although his AHL performance was underwhelming (18-14-4, 2.93, .910). Gillies’ development was delayed by hip surgery that limited him to seven games for the Stockton Heat in 2015-16 and he has slid under 2016 second-round pick Tyler Parsons as Calgary’s top puck-stopping hopeful. Gillies, a 6-6, 225-pound behemoth, keeps his cool under fire, though. Outlook: Although the Flames have stockpiled netminding prospects, he should get a short-term deal