Updates on Notable NHL RFAs – August 23, 2016
Latest updates on this summer’s notable unsigned NHL restricted free agents.
THE SCORE: Ian McLaren recently listed several impact NHL players still on this summer’s unsigned restricted free agent list. The notables include Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Arizona’s Tobias Rieder and Ottawa’s Cody Ceci.
NHL NETWORK (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculates it could cost the Calgary Flames more than Sean Monahan’s recently signed seven-year, $44.625 million to re-sign Gaudreau, citing the latter’s strong offensive numbers over the last two seasons. He believes both sides are looking for “term”, meaning the dollars will be high. Gaudreau said he doesn’t want to talk contract during his participation in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
Friedman notes things have been very quiet regarding negotiations between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Kucherov’s agent, suggesting the latter understands it’s not a good idea to leak information to the media. Friedman will be curious to see if the Lightning sign Kucherov to a long-term deal, speculating they could do what they did with Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, “They’re going to say, ‘Look, this is where we’re looking at and this is where it’s going to be,” said Friedman
Friedman also said he’s heard for a while now that Lindholm’s negotiations with the Anaheim Ducks could be tricky, in part due to the defenseman recently changing agents. He said there’s a number of variablse here and currently no information suggesting it’s close to getting done. He also said he’s a bit surprised Rakell hasn’t been re-signed yet and admitted he hasn’t heard a lot about his status.
As for Trouba, Friedman said it’s one “we’ve all be kind of waiting to happen.” He notes the blueliner intends to play in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey whether he has a contract or not. Trouba and Gaudreau have purchased extra insurance for the tournament in case they’re still not under contract with their respective clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s really nothing new to report on any of these notable unsigned players. We’re at the stage in the offseason when both sides tend to button up over the status of the contract talks. With the World Cup of Hockey starting soon and NHL training camps also opening in mid-September, I expect the negotiations are starting to intensify.
The teams want to get these players under contract for the upcoming season. The players don’t want to miss training camp as it could adversely affect their play at the start of the season. In recent years, we’ve seen very few lengthy contract holdouts stretch throughout training camp and into the regular season. While some of these players could remain unsigned when training camp opens, I expect all to be signed before the preseason schedule ends.
It’s possible a rival club could attempt to sign away one of those players via offer sheet, but I doubt we’ll see that happen. The best opportunity for that was earlier in the summer when teams had more salary-cap space and a willingness to spend. Offer sheets are rarely used nowadays.
As for what these players might get, I’m guessing Gaudreau gets a seven-year deal worth close to $7 million annually, Kucherov gets a seven-year deal for around $6 million per and Lindholm receives a seven- or eight-year contract worth over $5 million annually. The rest could receive short-term deals.