NHL Restricted Free Agents Still Unsigned

NHL Restricted Free Agents Still Unsigned

Here’s a list of the few most notable restricted free agents that remain unsigned

Mitch Marner- Signing Marner may be the story of the offseason. Toronto is in a pretty tight cap situation and Marner wants to get paid. They currently have an estimated $3.2 million for next season which is not even close to getting Marner. So they will have to shed serious salary in order to get him. Some believe Marner wants a deal close to his teammates Auston Matthews and John Tavares. Matthews makes $11.64 million while Tavares was signed for $11 million AAV last July. But Jeff Veillette from faceoffcircle.ca values Marner at $9.1 million when comparing him to players of a similar age and production level most notably Patrick Kane and Nikita Kucherov.

photo: Mark Terrill/ Associated Press

The problem for Toronto is that a player’s worth is hardly an indication of what he will make. Marner may not accept being paid less than his two teammates considering he led the team is points this year. The three-year pro has incredible speed, puck skills, and dominates in the offensive zone and on the rush. If he holds out for a big contract, there is likely a team that will give him an offer sheet putting the Leafs in a tricky situation. A contract as rich as the one that Marner would sign for means multiple first round picks going back to Toronto. If they can’t match, they may consider letting him go and collect the draft picks. It would come at the expense of a hometown star.

Patrik Laine – The losses of three defensemen and two forwards have allowed Winnipeg to free up $23 million which they’ll use to sign Patrik Laine. They also need to sign Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp, and the newly acquired Neal Poink. They should be able to sign all four, but the only uncertainty is with Laine’s deal. Laine is intriguing in that he’s considered by many to be the next great NHL sniper garnering comparisons to Alex Ovechkin. But after scoring 21 goals before the month of December, Laine only had 9 the rest of the season recording his lowest point total in his career. Laine does not dominate the puck possession game, and some say he may want out of Winnipeg. If he wants the big bucks and to be paid like one of the highest paid players in the league, the Jets may balk at that idea. An offer sheet could come.

photo: NHL.Com

Nearly as important for Winnipeg to sign Patrik Laine is them signing Kyle Connor. He was a huge contributor to their offense a season ago. Something could happen with Connor because the assumption would be that the Jets will pay Laine a lot more than Connor. If there is another team that values Connor and Laine closer than the Jets do, they could try to offer-sheet Connor. A team like the Canadiens comes to mind. His combination of speed and shot make him a deadly offensive force and a guy that teams who struggle to score would cherish.

Charlie McAvoy- The Bruins have a little more than $8 million in cap space to sign Charlie McAvoy and fellow right-shot defenseman Brandon Carlo. This is not going to be enough as McAvoy is widely considered one of the game’s best young defenseman and he may get that $8 million hit himself. The B’s have to dump salary. The two most logic cap casualties are defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller. Ideally, they would likely want to trade David Backes and his $6 million AAV. But, its unlikely any team would want to take on that contract considering Backes was a healthy scratch for nine playoff games this spring. If Miller and Moore are both traded, $5 million would open which should be enough to get Carlo and McAvoy signed. If its not, Boston could look at trading goalie Jaroslov Halak but this seems far-fetched as he was a more than serviceable backup a season ago and the Bruins’ are adamant about getting Tuukka Rask adequate rest.

Brayden Point- 40 goal scorers don’t grow on trees. Unless you live in Tampa where they seemingly fall from the sky. Point joined that club a season ago pocketing 41 to join teammates Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos who also reached that feat last year. Now, with his rookie contract expiring, Point is going to get a pay raise. The forward from Calgary has increased his production in each of his first three seasons culminating in his 92-point effort in 18-19. But he’s a clear third fiddle to Stamkos and Kucherov and fairly or not, is hardly ever in the conversation of the NHL elite. Still, he should garner anywhere from $7-9 million.

photo: NHL.Com

Right now, Tampa only has $5.5 million available, but they will get a little leniency because of untimely injury and imminent retirement of Ryan Callahan. If Callahan starts the season on the long-term injury list, Tampa would be allowed to go over the salary cap by Callahan’s $5.8 million number essentially doubling their available salary to $11 million with the current $5.5 million they have now. This would allow them to sign Point and should have some left over to sign another restricted free agent, Adam Erne. But the issue is that tapping into the salary of a player on the long-term injury list handcuffs the team a bit come the trade deadline. At the deadline, a team can go over the salary cap if they acquire a player in the final year of their deal. But, if Tampa is using Callahan’s money on Point, they can’t do that. Still, this is likely something the Bolts will just have to accept. They need to bring back Point.  

Zach Werenski- After a tumultuous offseason so-far, the Blue Jackets have one last major job to do; sign Zach Werenski. The University of Michigan product has been a fixture in Columbus’ lineup since he broke into the NHL three seasons ago. His signing would sure up one of the best defensive tandems in the league with him and Seth Jones going forward. They would additionally provide a great core to build around in the future. Bobrovsky’s replacement in net is a question for another day. But with $15 million in salary following the departures of many players this offseason, Werenski could essentially name his price and the Jackets would be smart to pay it. His final salary hit may be around what Charlie McAvoy signs for. The two are similar ages and while McAvoy is a bit bigger, Werenski has played more games and is out-pacing him in points. I can’t see any scenario where Werenski does not end up back in Columbus.

featured photo: BostonSportsExtra

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