Players who shine in the playoffs get rewarded. Players who shine in the playoffs and are in the final year of their contracts get rewarded immediately.
That’s going to be the case for the following four players, who are all free agents-to-be. They might have been marginal free agents before, but now that they’ve headlined for their teams in the playoffs, they are in line for some big paydays.
Here’s a look at four free agents whose stock has risen in the playoffs.
Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks
Bickell has earned a living crashing the net and being a big, unmovable force in front of it. However, he’s going to be living much better when he signs his next contract this offseason thanks to a newfound scoring touch around the cage.
Bickell made a modest $600,000 this season, but that will likely skyrocket. He’s scored seven playoff goals for the Blackhawks (the current favorites on the Stanley Cup odds at +110). That’s a big surprise considering he’s only scored 40 goals in the last six years. For those keeping track at home, Bickell’s seven playoff goals are four more than Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews combined.
Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins
Horton has long been a steady NHL scorer when he’s been on the ice. The trouble is that he always seems to be battling injury. He hasn’t played a full 82-game season since 2007-08.
However, Horton has managed to stay relatively healthy this year (only missing five regular-season games), and he’s reminding all potential free agent suitors why he can be a valuable asset. After finishing the regular season with 22 points, Horton has collected a whopping 17 in the playoffs. Only one player has registered more playoff points this postseason, and that’s teammate David Krejci (21).
He’s winding down on a nice payday with the Bruins and should earn another lucrative contract shortly.
Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins
Dupuis may have been the best bargain player in the NHL this year. Making a modest $1.5 million, Dupuis produced a huge return on investment, pouring in 20 goals and 38 points in the regular season. That stellar performance has continued in the playoffs with 11 points and seven goals, which ties him for the team lead.
Although he’s 34 years old, he can expect a nice raise come free agency.
Damien Brunner, Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings signed Brunner to a one-year, entry-level contract last July worth $1.35 million. Given how he played in the playoffs, they may have wished that contract was a little bit longer, because they’re not likely to get the same affordable rate.
Brunner led the Red Wings with five playoff goals and finished third on the team with nine points, behind Henrik Zetterberg (12) and Dan Cleary (10).
After his playoff performance, he’ll likely earn at least double what he made this year.