Have the floodgates finally opened?
After months of inactivity, two of the biggest RFAs on the market – Mitch Marner and Charlie McAvoy – finally inked new deals this past weekend. It was a waiting game most fans were getting sick of, and with training camp now underway, it's important to make sure the league's top stars are ready to go. It's territory like we've never seen before in the NHL, with so many top players left waiting until the last minute to secure their spots on NHL rosters.
If teams want unsigned RFAs up to speed by the time the regular season kicks off on October 2, the ink needs to start flowing. The hope is that with two of the top players signed to deals, the remaining dominos are set to fall. There might not be a hockey fan opposed to that idea as the clock starts kicking. So, who are the RFAs still looking for contracts?
RFAs: Matthew Tkachuk
Step 1: Sign Sam Bennett and David Rittich. Done. Next? Sign Tkachuk. He’s coming off a 34-goal, 77-point season and should get a long-term deal with a cap hit upwards of $8 million. In terms of all-around players, he's among the best options still on the market.
RFAs: Saku Maenalanen
He's not one of the bigger name RFAs, but he still can be an impact bottom-six player in the NHL. The big-bodied winger had a notable playoff performance from a physical standpoint, but he doesn't have much offensive value. Look for him to sign for under a million. Fun fact: there's a Twitter account dedicated to Maenalanen's contract status.
RFAs: Mikko Rantanen
Avs fans have a reason to be anxious: Rantanen had a fantastic 87-point season in Denver and Colorado has enough momentum to be a true Stanley Cup contender this season. Look for him to sign an eight-year deal worth $9.5-million per year.
RFAs: Julius Honka
Honka is in need of a new home after struggling to be a full-time NHLer over the past few years. He recently asked for a trade out of Texas, with Montreal coming out as a top candidate to acquire him. He’s not worth a lot right now, but he could be a good reclamation project for some team.
RFAs: Jesse Puljujarvi
If he's going to play in the NHL again, it's going to be on a different team. At 21, he's still young and could still have a breakout season at some point. He's off to a great start in Finland with Karpat and seems to be gaining confidence again, albeit in a lower level than the NHL. But the real question right now: what are his rights worth?
NEW YORK RANGERS
RFAs: Anthony DeAngelo
Jacob Trouba is all good to go, so the last name on the docket is DeAngelo. A two-year bridge deal at $3 million will be good for both sides and give him arbitration rights upon the deal’s expiration. Larry Brooks has reported that the Rangers don't want to move off of the $925,000 deal they signed Brendan Lemieux to, so if DeAngelo agrees, it's hard to see him signing longer than a one-year deal and seek more money next summer.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
RFAs: Brayden Point
Point is due a monster raise, and Tampa Bay is going to have to pay up to keep him on the roster. Does he get Marner money, given that he had two fewer points than the Leafs star? It's hard to imagine the Lightning want to give Point more than the $9.5 million AAV Nikita Kucherov holds, but it's fair to say that was a major discount for the NHL's top scorer. He's the No. 1 RFA still around and one Tampa won't want to miss on opening night.
RFAs: Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine
Oh boy, this is starting to get ugly. Laine is off to train in Switzerland until a new deal comes through, while Connor has been the topic of offer sheet talk as of late. With $15.45 million in cap space, signing both to long-term deals will be challenging unless they can get them both for $7 million.
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