By: Vinny Cannamela
As training camps are getting closer and closer to starting, the off-season has been fairly boring since the free agent frenzy at the beginning of July. We have seen a bunch of players switch teams just as we do every year, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Matt Duchene is heading to Nashville, Artemi Panarin is heading to the Big Apple to dawn the blue and red sweater, and Sergei Bobrovsky is now the highest paid goalie down in Florida. While that might just be the Columbus UFA situation, there’s been quite a few new destinations for high-end players. The reason that this news comes as no shock is due to the fact that the media leaks these signings before July 1st, so there were really no surprises.
Switching over to the RFA side of things, the only crazy thing that has taken place is the offer sheet presented to Carolina for Sebastian Aho from Montreal. Carolina countered the offer sheet immediately, but that is only one name on a long list of prized restricted free agents yet to be offered a contract extension. Some of these other names include:
Mitch Marner (Toronto)
Brayden Point (Tampa Bay)
Mikko Rantanen (Colorado)
Zach Werenski (Columbus)
Charlie McAvoy (Boston)
Brandon Carlo (Boston)
Patrik Laine (Winnipeg)
Kyle Connor (Winnipeg)
Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary)
Brock Boeser (Vancouver)
Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia)
It’s hard to believe that training camp is only a few weeks away and none of these players have signed. Guys like Marner, Rantanen, and Point are key pieces on their respective rosters, so it’s perplexing why teams have not been more proactive in reaching a deal with them. Is it because of the lockout rumors? Is it because of the expansion draft in 2020 for the Seattle team?
Let’s start with Mitch Marner. Where could he end up?
He is the only player on Toronto’s roster that has not been signed yet, and with players on the LTIR, they have roughly $10 million to try and sign him. Could he be asking for $12 million? That would be the only reason why a player like Mitch Marner is not already gearing up for training camp.
The only teams with enough cap space to make room for a $10 million cap hit without moving anybody are Philadelphia, Ottawa, Columbus, Colorado, and Winnipeg. Every team on that list besides Ottawa has at least one big-name RFA to sign, so will Marner get an offer sheet from the Senators? You have to think that if they offer $12 million, Toronto will not be able to match. Only time will tell. This is something to watch closely as the first games of the preseason start.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in a similar situation with Brayden Point. In his second season, Point had 41 goals and 92 assists while being named an All-Star. The Lightning have just over $9 million to sign him. From here, it’s either Point or Marner that will set the market for the RFA class. According to reports, both are looking for a deal over $10 million.
If you are Boston or Winnipeg, you hate to see that, as they have minimal cap space to sign two restricted free agents. It’s going to be an interesting situation to keep an eye on in the coming month.
Cover photo via: The Toronto Star
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