Rasmus Dahlin, Connor Hellebuyck, and MarkScheifele ink massive extensions
Today’s NHL News follows up on several high-profile contract extensions issued Monday afternoon.
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About 36 hours before the first puck drop of the 2023-24 NHL season, massive contract extensions were announced on Monday afternoon, with the Buffalo Sabres locking up Rasmus Dahlin long-term and the Winnipeg Jets retaining Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele.
Although Dahlin was in no danger of leaving the Sabres, there were countless rumors surrounding the futures of Hellebuyck and Scheifele. Instead of being potential sellers at the upcoming NHL trade deadline, the Jets know their future is secure and can focus on acquiring more pieces to win the Stanley Cup someday.
Meanwhile, the Sabres, who have not skated in the postseason for 12 seasons, continue solidifying the core of their franchise by retaining homegrown stars like Dahlin. Ultimately, with the way the roster is shaping up in upstate New York, Buffalo is on the verge of becoming a playoff team and a serious threat to win their first championship by the decade’s end.
Rasmus Dahlin joins exclusive club
According to CapFriendly.com, there will be 15 players set to have a cap hit over $10 million in 2024-25, with Dahlin becoming the group’s latest member. After signing a massive eight-year deal worth $88 million, carrying an AAV of $11 million, he will become the second highest-paid defenseman behind reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson ($11.5 million).
Although sorting through all the contracts the Sabres have ever signed is challenging, Dahlin’s new deal will become one of the most lucrative agreements in team history. As a former first-overall pick (2018), he’ll join Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), and John Tavares (Maple Leafs) as top picks, all making over $10 million.
Surprisingly, Dahlin has yet to win any awards in the NHL but participated in the 2022 and 2023 All-Star Games. Statistically, after 355 games, he’s netted 233 points with 46 goals and 187 assists, with a career-high 73 points in 2022-23. After being a negative player (minus-78) during his first four seasons, Dahlin was plus-12 last year.
Winnipeg retains two cornerstone players with matching Hellebuyck and Scheifele deals
Last year, many in the hockey community wondered if the Jets could not extend Hellebuyck and Scheifele or if they would trade their two-star players at the deadline. Ultimately, no one left, but the Jets got bounced in the Stanley Cup playoffs opening round in just five games.
Since relocating in 2011, the Jets have yet to win a division title and only advanced to the Western Conference Final once, in 2018. However, they have qualified for the playoffs six times in the past decade, with Hellebuyck shouldering the workload yearly to make that happen.
Because of his nightly efforts, he won a Vezina Trophy (2020) and was a three-time finalist. Highly regarded as one of the best goalies in the NHL today, Hellebuyck’s new deal of seven years for $59 million (AVV $8.5 million) will make him the fourth highest-paid netminder in the league behind Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens), Sergei Bobrovsky (Florida Panthers), and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning).
Statistically, since entering the league in 2015-16, Hellebuyck ranks first in games played (445), games started (436), saves (12,456), shots against (13,604), and ice time (25,689.51). Additionally, he’s second in wins (238) and losses (154).
Meanwhile, after relocation, Scheifele, Winnipeg’s first-draft pick in 2011, continues his 12-year career with the team after signing a seven-year pact worth $59 million (AAV $8.5 million). Thus far, he’s skated in 723 games, collecting 645 points with 272 goals and 373 assists.
Heading into 2023-24, Scheifele ranks second or third in the team’s record books regarding games played, goals, assists, and points. Realistically, by the end of his career, he’ll be the Jet’s best statistical player of all time.
Since becoming a regular in the NHL during the 2013-14 season, when he finished eighth in team scoring, Scheifele has not finished lower than fourth in any preceding seasons, winning the Jets’ scoring title in 2016-17 and 2020-21. After his extension begins next year, he’ll become the 18th highest-paid center in the league, sharing the same salary as Pierre-Luc Dubois (Los Angeles Kings), Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Mika Zibanejad (New York Rangers), and Bo Horvat (New York Islanders).