When looking at the 2019 RFA crop last year, little did we know how much ink would be spilled, and how many controversies begun with that group at the centre. This coming year doesn’t have the same number of high-profile names, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see some similarities between this year and last. The teams that take care of their players most, such as San Jose (Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc) and Pittsburgh (Jake Guentzel, Marcus Pettersson) may get a few RFAs signed early, but for the most part, the RFA class may end up holding out again until later in the summer, waiting for the first couple dominoes to fall. Unlike this past summer with Sebastian Aho, it is unlikely we see an offersheet.
The forward group this year is highlighted by some top-line players in Sam Reinhart, Anthony Mantha, Max Domi, and Kevin Labanc. There isn’t the same star power as last year, however with Domi, Mantha, and to a lesser extent Reinhart on the list there are a few players that could see some lengthy negotiation periods. On the positive side of getting deals for these players done are a few factors. In the case of Mantha, there’s the Yzerman involvement to consider. For Domi, there’s the fact that he really seems to want to be a part of the Habs, and may be a bit more of a team-first guy than Mitch Marner *ducks*. On Reinhart’s end, Buffalo has done a good job of locking up core players such as Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen early. Meanwhile in San Jose, Kevin Labanc’s extension is likely singed already, and is just post-dated to January first.
Aside from the names above there are also many notewor