Even though the 2019-20 NHL season is less than a week away, there are still some key restricted free agents who have yet to sign a new contract.
The extensive RFA list that started the off-season highlighted by Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brayden Point and Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner still has players without a deal despite the fact that the two superstars got new contracts over the past two weeks.
While Point signed a three-year, $20.25-million US contract with the Lightning on Sept. 23, Marner locked into a $65.35-million deal through six years with the Maple Leafs 10 days earlier. They were the top two players on the Toronto Observer top 10 RFAs this off-season.
Another high-ranked name on the board was Matthew Tkachuk (No. 5), the Calgary Flames’ left wing who signed a three-year, $21-million extension last Wednesday.
Tkachuk was the most recent signing among the biggest RFAs this off-season, leaving Mikko Rantanen, Patrik Laine, and Kyle Connor as the only remaining players in the top 10 with an uncertain status for the upcoming regular season. They have until Dec. 1 to sign a new deal to be eligible to play.
Here’s how the top 10 restricted free agents are set up contract-wise after almost four months into the off-season.
|#||RFA||Team||2018 season (goals/assists)||Contract situation|
|1||Brayden Point||Tampa Bay||92 points (41/51)||Signed: 3 years, $20.25 million|
|2||Mitch Marner||Toronto||94 points (26/68)||Signed: 6 years, $65.3 million|
|3||Mikko Rantanen||Colorado||87 points (31/56)||Unsigned|
|4||Sebastian Aho||Carolina||83 points (30/53)||Signed: 5 years, $42.27 million|
|5||Matthew Tkachuk||Calgary||77 points (34/43)||Signed: 3 years, $21 million|
|6||Patrik Laine||Winnipeg||50 points (30/20)||Unsigned|
|7||Charlie McAvoy||Boston||28 points (7/21)||Signed: 3 years, $14.7 million|
|8||Kyle Connor||Winnipeg||66 points (34/32)||Unsigned|
|9||Zach Werenseki||Columbus||44 points (11/33)||Signed: 3 years, $15 million|
|10||Timo Meier||San Jose||66 points (30/36)||Signed: 4 years, $24 million|
Here’s a look at the current unsigned restricted free agents:
Mikko Rantanen (RW, Colorado Avalanche)
2018 season: 74 games played, 31 goals, 56 assists (87 points).
NHL Draft: 10th overall, 2015
Mikko Rantanen and the Colorado Avalanche have been discussing a new deal frequently in the past week. TSN’s Pierre Lebrun reported that the Avalanche have been focused on a long-term deal that would include $8.5 million a year during seven seasons. But Rantanen, who will turn 23 years old later in October, would consider only offers starting at an AAV of $9 million, in order to sign a long-term contract. This gap between what Colorado has been offering and what the player is looking for creates a scenario without a concrete timetable.
Rantanen’s 56 assists were only behind Nathan MacKinnon’s 58 in the 2018-19 season for the Avs.
Patrik Laine (RW, Winnipeg Jets)
2018 season: 82 games played, 30 goals, 20 assists (50 points).
NHL Draft: 2nd overall, 2016
Pierre Lebrun also reported that there’s still a money gap in the negotiations between the Winnipeg Jets and Patrik Laine. Both sides also spoken in the past week and while they are likely set on a short-term deal, the AAV is still an issue. That’s because the 21-year-old would rather be north of $7 million a year, which is one million ahead of what Winnipeg has offered thus far. Laine had down season in 2018-19 scoring 30 goals after 44 in the year before. A bridge contract now would create an opportunity to re-prove himself, potentially earning a long-term deal in the near future.
Laine finished third in goals for the Jets in the past season.
Kyle Connor (LW, Winnipeg Jets)
2018 season: 82 games played, 34 goals, 32 assists (66 points).
NHL Draft: 17th overall, 2015
Kyle Connor is another name under negotiations for Winnipeg. According to Bob McKenzie from TSN, the contract talks are pointing for a six-year deal, although a four-year term would be considered from Connor as well — Similar to Timo Meier’s deal with the San Jose Sharks. But the Jets, again, don’t appear to be close with the negotiations with the 22-year-old, whose 34 goals put him second on the team behind Mark Scheifele (38) last year.