On Friday afternoon, the Nashville Predators announced a long-term extension for Ryan Johansen. Johansen’s new 8-year deal is worth $64 million. Johansen’s new contract is like the one that the Capitals just handed Evgeny Kuznetsov on July 2. Kuznetsov’s new 8-year deal is worth $62.4 million.
Johansen and Kuznetsov were first round picks back at the 2010 NHL Draft. Johansen was taken 4th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Kuznetsov was taken 26th overall by the Capitals.
Johansen, who turns 25 next week, has more NHL experience than Kuznetsov. Johansen made his debut with the Jackets in 2011-12. In 433 NHL games, Johansen has recorded 101 goals and 288 points. Johansen has hit over 20+ goals twice in his 7-year career and has hit over 60+ points 3 times in his career.
Johansen recorded 3 goals and 13 points in 14 games during the 2017 NHL Playoffs.
Kuznetsov, 25, made his NHL debut with the Capitals near the tail end of the 2013-14 season. In 261 games, Kuznetsov has tallied 53 goals and 182 points. Kuznetsov has hit the 20-goal plateau once in his career and has hit over 50+ points twice in his career.
Kuznetsov recorded 5 goals and 10 points in 13 games during the 2017 NHL Playoffs.
Evgeny Kuznetsov has averaged 0.69 points per game over his NHL career. Ryan Johansen has averaged 0.67 points per game.
When it comes to total ice time, Johansen sees the ice more for the Predators than Kuznetsov does for the Capitals. Johansen led all Predators forwards in time on ice. He averaged 18:50 on ice per game and led all Predators forwards in powerplay time on ice.
By comparison, Kuznetsov led all Capitals forwards in time on ice at even strength, but he was 4th among Capitals forwards in total time on ice. Kuznetsov averaged 16:57 of ice time per game, which was 5th among Capitals forwards. He also ranked 6th among Capitals forward in powerplay ice time per game.
Overall, Kuznetsov sees the ice less than Johansen does. A primary reason for this is because Kuznetsov did not spend much time on the Capitals top powerplay unit in 2016-17. While the time on ice numbers are very close, the primary gap between the two players lies within the powerplay usage.
While both players are very similar and post similar point production, Johansen may have a bit more polish to his game. Johansen has shown that he can score some goals under the right circumstances. Johansen has also shown more of a complete game as he can win draws inside the faceoff circle. Johansen had his best year in the faceoff dot in 2016-17, as he won 54.55% of his draws. He has won over 50% of his draws every year since his rookie season. By comparison, Kuznetsov won just 43.97% of his draws in 2016-17. He has not cracked over 50% in any season in his NHL career.
THESE CONTRACTS ARE THE NEW NORMAL
Johansen and Kuznetsov are both talented 25-year old players at the NHL level. Both players have given their respective franchises a hope for the long-term future. Both players are getting close to the peak of their games and have excited the fans in their respective towns.
Players that put up the level of production that these two players do are hard to find for any franchise. With the salary cap rising every season, these contracts may not look as high 3-5 years down the road.
When general managers develop contracts like this they hope that the player continues to grow their game and develop. Both players have shown a lot of promise and have shown a level of consistency to where they have earned long-term deals.
By: George Foussekis