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Top NHL RFAs Yet to be Signed: Revisited

Since our last RFA article, there have been many exciting updates to cover. We will revisit our three marquee RFAs and see where they stand today as we are approaching the start of the regular season. First, here is a recap on the difference between an RFA and a UFA.

In the NHL there are two kinds of Free agents. There are Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) who are eligible to sign for any team and there are Restricted Free Agents (RFAs). The latter are players whose signing rights belong to the team that drafted them, provided that the team tendered the player a qualifying offer at the expiration of their “Entry Level Deal.”

As a note, all NHL deals, including Canadian ones are made in U.S. Dollars and AAV stands for Average Annual Value. Regardless of how much money a player makes per year, the AAV is what counts against a teams cap space each season.

  1. Brayden Point – Tampa Bay Lightning
    Our first update is a major one as the Lightning and Point came together on a 3-year bridge deal valued at $20.25 million (or an AAV of $6.75). As was predicted, after negotiations around the league began to come to a conclusion, many RFAs would get more serious in their contract talks. With Point not being interested in practicing in Europe or an offer sheet, it was only a matter of time until Point and the Bolts reached a deal, as it just came down to what Tampa Bay was able to afford. The good news for Tampa is that after Point’s three-year contract expires, he will still be under team control, meaning he will have RFA status.
  2. Patrik Laine – Winnipeg Jets
    Unfortunately for the Jets, things don’t look much better than when we last examined the Laine RFA negotiation standstill. On the positive side for the Jets, Josh Morrissey (whose contract had not yet expired) re-signed for 8 years for $50 million (or an AAV of $6.25 million). Now that’s where the good news ends for the Jets as their situation with Laine has been the most notable of the bunch from a media perspective as he is now training with S.C. Bern in Switzerland along with Colorado RFA Mikko Rantanen. But Laine also made comments on his role with the Jets, signaling that he was discontent with his usage and would be given a higher role in any other team. According to Laine (and Rantanen’s agent), the 2016 second overall pick and the Jets organization are not close to a deal and right now it is unclear if the two sides will come to an agreement before puck drop on opening night. Notably, the Jets are still yet to sign RFA Kyle Connor and as we saw with William Nylander last year, holdouts are on the table for both these players.
  3. Mitch Marner – Toronto Maple Leafs
    The big RFA fish of the summer, Mitch Marner has signed a 6-year deal valued at $65.358 million (or $10.893 AAV) according to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman. With this signing, the Leafs seem to have all their ducks in a row in preparation for the 2019-2020 campaign. After much speculation throughout the summer, Marner only ended up missing one day of camp. This contract may present some cap complications for the Leafs during the 2020 offseason as they will have five defensemen looking for new deals, most notably, Codi Ceci, Tyson Barrie and Jake Muzzin. Hockey analysts regard Marner’s contract as the contract to set the market and many agents say they will be using it as a comparable when discussing deals with their client’s GMs.

    Honorable Mentions:
    Matthew Tkachuk (Was skating with the London Knights of the OHL, Has just signed at 3 years for $21 million, with an AAV of $7)
    Mikko Rantanen (Skating with SC Bern of the Swiss league with Laine, not close with Colorado, Colorado will have 6 RFA’s next season)
    Brock Boeser (Signed, 3-year bridge deal for $17.625 Million USD, $5.875 AAV)