With a number of unrestricted free agents snapped up and a few still available, teams are turning their collective attention toward a number of restricted free agents.
A few RFAs have been signed recently, including Alex Galchenyuk, Oscar Lindberg and Zach Hyman. Some have filed for salary arbitration and some teams are beginning to negotiate, which means we’ll be seeing some money change hands over the next while.
In some cases, big money will be up for grabs.
Take Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund, for example.
The 25-year-old centre had a 2016-2017 cap hit of $3 million and was a Lady Byng finalist. He put up 26 goals and 43 assists, plus he registered 177 shots on goal. Granlund opted for arbitration in light of Minnesota’s qualifying offer, which was to a one-year deal worth a reported $3.2 million. He is coming off a bridge deal, so it’s hard to imagine the Wild not wanting to ink this guy for the long-term. Or at least the longer-term.
What’s more, Minnesota isn’t getting any younger down the middle. Granlund would assure them a top-tier centre for years to come.
Plus, the Wild traded away Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella in part to free up the money to offer Granlund something compelling. You have to imagine a deal will arrive in the next while.
Another big name on the list is Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak.
The 21-year-old had a 2016-2017 cap hit of $925,000 in 2016-2017 and collected 34 goals with 36 assists. He had 262 shots on goal.
So, what’s the hold-up in Boston?
The Bruins have made moves to free up the green to offer Pastrnak a fair deal, with the buy-out of Jimmy Hayes at the top of that list. And according to general manager Don Sweeney, discussions are “ongoing.” That’s a good sign.
The issue for Boston is that they hold some of the cards. Pastrnak does not have the right to an arbitration hearing, which could impact how those ongoing discussions proceed. It’s tempting to suggest that the Bruins could subsequently lowball Pastrnak in light of the bargaining chips he does not have, but that’s not likely – especially if they want a happy winger in camp.
Bo Horvat is another big name out there. The Vancouver Canucks centre should be a big part of whatever’s coming next for the team.
The 22-year-old accounted for a $894,167 cap hit in 2016-2017 and was Vancouver’s All-Star representative. He had 20 goals and 32 assists and you have to imagine the Canucks want to get something done to solidify him as part of the club for many years to come. He’s likely to be Henrik Sedin’s replacement as the top centre, after all.
There’s also talk that Horvat could be a future team captain, which means he could be looking at a six or even eight-year deal. That theorizes that the top years of production for a given player are around the 24-to-27-year-old window, which means that a team wants to buy the best years – so to speak. In the case of Horvat, you can see a contract going down that road without fail.
And then there’s Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton, who should benefit from Connor McDavid’s monster deal.
In 2016-2017, Draisaitl made $925,000 and had 29 goals. In his first full season with the Oilers, he scored 0.71 points per game. He’s fully capable of centring a line and could be the linchpin for Edmonton down the line as McDavid draws the bulk of opponent attention. That means Draisaitl’s value goes up.
Right now, the issue is probably one of term. Draisaitl will want to settle in Edmonton for a good long while, especially when there’s a lot of silver seemingly in the team’s future. For this reason, it’s likely we’ll see a deal in the neighbourhood of eight years for…let’s say eight million a year.