The upcoming week (January 31st - February 6th) is a very important week for the Devils. Why? Well for one, we have our first home game against Our Hated Rivals. But also there are 5 birthdays on the team!!!! That locker room is gonna be crazy. Here are the birthdays. Courtesy Hockey-Reference.
|Kyle Palmieri||24||February 1, 1991|
|Jordin Tootoo||32||February 2, 1983|
|Jonathon Merrill||23||February 3, 1992|
|Lee Stempniak||32||February 4, 1983|
|Adam Henrique||25||February 6, 1990|
That's right, the Devils have 5 birthdays in 6 days and--what's even crazier--4 consecutive birthdays!
The probability of that is just over 1%. If you think that sounds high, then read up on your probability -- in particular, the well-known Birthday Paradox. If you want a problem more applicable to this situation, check out stackexchange. The math is (32*30*31*29)/(365^3).
So what do these birthdays mean -- if anything.
Kyle Palmieri turning 25 years old on February 1st.
|CONTRACT:3 yr(s) / $4,400,000||AVERAGE SALARY$1,466,667||FREE AGENT:2016 / RFA|
Kyle Palmieri is the new franchise. Yeah, I'm starting off big. But, he's going to need to be the franchise. The last time the Devils had a 25-or-younger player score over 50 points was in 2010 when Zajac and Parise did it (Palmieri currently on pace for 57). Parise eventually got 13 years / $98 million from Minnesota and despite decreased production, Zajac was good for 8 years / $46 million. Palmieri is an RFA in 2016 which means that he will almost definitely get an offer sheet if we don't lock him up. When Parise was in the same situation, he was given a 1-year / $6 million deal but he had made $5 million the year before so that wasn't a huge jump. Offer sheets are extremely rare in the NHL, so expect the Devils to offer either a generous 1-year contract or jump on it a lock him up long-term. If not, an offer sheet will happen. With that investment, he will be expected to carry the torch long after Cammy and Stemper are gone.
Jon Merrill, turning 24 years old on February 3rd.
|CONTRACT:3 yr(s) / $2,700,000||AVERAGE SALARY$900,000||FREE AGENT:2016 / RFA|
This is one of those RFAs that will probably be given a bridge deal, but probably doesn't need to. I've been anti-Merrill a while now so I'll try not to let my personal bias affect my assessment of this colossal waste of space......
I just don't see the upside to this guy. I mean I see what people say his upside is, but I just don't see it on the ice. I could be wrong. Larsson struggled for a while, but he figured it out at 22. Merrill is pushing 24 and shows no signs of improvement. The signings of guys like Schlemko and Moore demonstrate the lack of confidence in Merrill, and the replaceability of his talent.
I expect, but begrudge, a 1-year deal to bring him to his age-25 season.
Jordin Tootoo turning 33 years old on February 2nd.
|CONTRACT:1 yr(s) / $825,000||AVERAGE SALARY$825,000||FREE AGENT:2016 / UFA|
Tootoo is a mainstay on our 4th line who has had occasional stints of production. He is replaceable for sure, but he will probably be a cheap and efficient 4th-liner. I don't think Ruutu will re-sign. He is pointless in 15 games this year. I don't mean the adjective. I mean it is an adjective, but I -- HE HAS NO POINTS. In 15 games? C'mon man. Shero is not gonna let that fly. Tootoo is the bet there. Farnham has been a viable 4th liner as well and there's really no point talking about this anymore because projecting a 4th line is like saving yourself for marriage. Sure it sounds nice in concept, but s*** happens.
Tootoo is a body that is reliable, flexible, and cheap. He can get 1-year deals until he's worn out his usefulness.
Lee Stempniak turning 33 years old on February 4th.
|CONTRACT:1 yr(s) / $850,000||AVERAGE SALARY$850,000||FREE AGENT:2016 / UFA|
By far the most interesting one. Lee Stempniak is basically on pace for a 60-point season -- a feet he has never accomplished in his 10-year NHL career. He is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. We are giving Shero a lot of credit for this signing and he deserves it, but if you asked Shero in camp what he thought the odds of Stemper getting 60 points was he probably would have said "BAHHHHAHAHAHAHAH OOOOOOOOOOHH Haaa ...whew.. okay. Sorry. Ahem. Not great." And even if we keep the SCAR line together another couple years, it's tough to see a 33-year old continuing to put up career highs.
It's tough to project the market for him. I'd say 2-years / $5 million could happen if Shero decides we are going to make a run. That $2.5million AAV would tie the highest of Stemper's career. If Shero continues the "faster, younger" reboot, the Stemper may be too much. Shero would try to strike gold again elsewhere for a bargain.
Adam Henrique turning 26 years old on February 6th.
|CONTRACT:6 yr(s) / $24,000,000||AVERAGE SALARY$4,000,000||FREE AGENT:2019 / UFA|
The Golden Boy. The Ranger-killer. The Kyle Palmieri of 2013. Henrique is all grown up. I realize that he's only one year older than Palmieri, but he's been on this team for 4 full years and is in his 5th. He growing is over. He's on a 50-point pace this season and that's probably the range we can expect him to stay unless he lucks into a Kovy-Parise line somewhere down the line again.
Rico is part of the future of this team as he is signed to a reasonable contract through 2019. The interesting thing to watch is the guys we put around him. the SCAR line is him and 2 (soon-to-be) 33-year-olds. Within this contract, Stemper will probably be gone and Cammy will probably see a significant dip in production. This is not a line that is built for multiple years of dominance. Rico is the best forward on a bad team (2015 Devils) and a contributing top 6 forward on a good team (2016 Devils).
What do you think of these 5 guys? What do you think of their future with their team? How was my salary cap/ contract parlance? I learn something new about NHL contracts everyday so feel free to teach me new things if I got something wrong -- particularly with the young guys.
Should I never include probability math in an article again? Was this an arbitrary way to pick players to examine? Leave your thoughts below!