Unsigned RFA’s: Lots of Quality Left

“Show me the money!” Who doesn’t remember this catch phrase and what movie it comes from? That’s right, Jerry MaGuire, a football players’ agent played by Tom Cruise, who has to start all over again with only one client, Rodney “Rod” Tidwell (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.), who is asking for nothing less than… the money! NHL teams’ General Managers and owners must feel like Maguire as it seems like that’s all they’re hearing these days, and coming from younger and younger players, earlier in their career than ever. They must be thankful to the rookie salary cap otherwise their teams’ pay scales would be even more out of whack than it already is.

A handful of prominent Restricted Free Agents have recently signed with their respective teams, going for money that just a few years ago, only long time veterans would be getting. The league is getting younger and players are contributing more than ever and they want their piece of the pie immediately. Mitch Marner, Thomas Chabot, Brock Boeser, Travis Konecny, Charlie McAvoy, Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski, Clayton Keller, Samuel Girard, Timo Meier, Sebastian Aho and Brayden Point are all 23 years old and under and all have received their millions this summer. And there is still a list of key RFA’s who are waiting for their day at the bank.

KYLE CONNOR, LW
AGE: 22HEIGHT: 6’1″WEIGHT: 182HAND:LCAP HIT:$925,000
GP:82GOALS:34ASSISTS:32POINTS:66+/-:-7TOI/GP19:15
SCOUTING REPORT:Has a projectable frame and plenty of speed and quickness (he’s strong in his lower body). Can score goals at every level, as well as set up his linemates with aplomb. Thinks the game well and has plenty of two-way upside. Needs to fill out his 6-1 frame and gain greater upper-body strength in order to maximize his long-range potential at the National Hockey League level. Must also become a more consistent player in all three zones.
TEAM CAP: With Dustin Byfuglien currently suspended without pay, the Jets currently sit $1.75 million below the limit of $60.2 million set by the NHL, with 19 players with NHL contracts. It’s safe to say that with just one of Connor and/or Laine signed, they’ll be perfectly fine and that, no matter what Byfuglien decides to do with his career.
PATRIK LAINE, RW/LW
AGE: 21HEIGHT: 6’5″WEIGHT:206HAND:RCAP HIT:$925,000
GP:82GOALS:30ASSISTS:20POINTS:50+/-:-24TOI/GP:17:13
SCOUTING REPORT:Has great size and even better hands. Can play either wing position with aplomb and is a natural goal-scorer. Can use his big frame effectively in tight spaces. Needs to work on his quickness, since he tends to need a little time before getting to top speed. Is not very physical, which somewhat negates his tremendous size in the NHL.
TEAM CAP: See above, same situation for Kyle Connor.
MATTHEW TKACHUK, LW
AGE: 21HEIGHT: 6’2″WEIGHT:202HAND:LCAP HIT:$925,000
GP:80GOALS:34ASSISTS:43POINTS:77+/-:+14TOI/GP:17:35
SCOUTING REPORT:Owns a terrific nose for the net, plus enough size to produce quality numbers at the highest level. While not as tough as his father (Keith), he is also plenty feisty. Does his best work in front of the net. Needs to continue to get physically stronger. Also needs to continue to work on his defensive game and improve his play without the puck for the professional ranks. Is only an average skater.
TEAM CAP: With a 22 men roster, the Flames have approximately $6.3 million to spare under the cap, but Tkachuk should take it all, if not more, even if he decides to sign a bridge deal.
MIKKO RANTANEN, RW
AGE: 22HEIGHT: 6’4″WEIGHT:215HAND:LCAP HIT:$894,167
GP:74GOALS:31ASSISTS:56POINTS:87+/-:-2TOI/GP:20:50
SCOUTING REPORT:Owns a tremendous combination of NHL size and elite skill. Skates very well for his size and is a great playmaker. He is also quite versatile and can play all three forward positions, which adds value. In order to maximize production at the highest level, he will need to amp up his physical play (and take full advantage of his 6-4, 211-pound frame). Could also stand to improve his shot a little.
TEAM CAP: Even counting a 23 men roster, the Avalanche have $15.6 million available under the cap so there’s no doubt that they can get this done. One has to wonder what’s taking so long?
JESSE PULJUJÄRVI, RW
AGE: 21HEIGHT:6’4″WEIGHT:201HAND:RCAP HIT:$925,000
GP:46GOALS:4ASSISTS:5POINTS:9+/-:-14TOI/GP:11:57
SCOUTING REPORT:Owns outstanding size and terrific game-breaking talent. Skates very well in a straight line but could stand to improve his quickness (as well as his decision-making with the puck). Has a great release. Knows where to go in order to score goals. Can also be a physical presence. Is a great playmaker. Like most young players, he needs to improve his defensive-zone coverage. Also needs to be more game-to-game consistent in order to maximize production in the National Hockey League.
TEAM CAP: We know the situation. Puljujärvi has requested a trade and he’s playing in Finland while waiting for the Oilers to make their move. Edmonton is in a tough spot with only $1.5 million available. But what exactly is his value on the market? Will he be another Yakupov or will he put it all together with another team? So far, their asking price is too high for any NHL team to pull the trigger on a trade.
SAKU MAENALANEN, RW/LW
AGE: 25HEIGHT:6’4″WEIGHT:207HAND:LCAP HIT:$925,000
GP:34GOALS:4ASSISTS:4POINTS:8+/-:0TOI/GP:9:25
SCOUTING REPORT:Complements skilled linemates very well, due to his size, reach and ability to win puck battles. Is an imposing figure who can make his presence felt when on the ice. Has solid offensive instincts, too. In order to thrive in the National Hockey League, he will need to completely fill out his big frame and become even stronger so as to battle in the corners (and also to fill a role in front of the net).
TEAM CAP: Thanks in part to the Montreal Canadiens’ offer sheet to Sebastian Aho, the Canes are about $2 million over the cap ceiling, although with a 25 men roster (without Maenalanen). This is very much unfamiliar territory for Carolina and it will be interesting to see how they will manage, considering that owner Tom Gordon has to pay Aho $21 million in the first 11 months of the season, when the team managed a hockey related profit of… $25 million all season!
JULIUS HONKA, D
AGE: 23HEIGHT:5’11”WEIGHT:180HAND:RCAP HIT:$863,333
GP:29GOALS:0ASSISTS:4POINTS:4+/-:-2TOI/GP:13:42
SCOUTING REPORT:An impressive skater and offensive defenseman, he moves the puck very well and has the ability to put up good point totals at all levels. Is an asset on the power play, due to sound hockey sense and a good point shot. Will need to add significant strength, since he doesn’t own ideal size for a National Hockey League defenseman. Also needs to continue to work on his play without the puck, especially his defensive-zone coverage.
TEAM CAP: With a 22 men roster, the Stars have less than $1 million available under the cap but it sounds like they are shopping the rights to their young defenseman. The issue is that he has yet to live up to the expectation so his value is much lower than Dallas was hoping for.

So Habs’ fans, which one(s) would you like to see in a Canadiens’ uniform? Forget offer sheet as the team doesn’t have enough cap space available to do that but… some of them could be available through trade. In that case, what price do you think that the other team would accept for their player(s)? Go Habs Go!

*Scouting Reports: Sports Forecaster

Advertisements