As I looked at what to write for this week, I realized the list of Restricted Free Agents this year is really long. I figured it worth while to spend this week going over the omitted. Let's skip the preamble and dive right in:
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild ($925K, Age 23)
The great thing about writing these articles is the ability to make up and/or break rules as you go. While Alex briefly discussed Kaprizov pre-season and I said last week I wouldn't cover players in that article, his in-season performance makes it well worth revisiting him.
This guy is money in every sense of the word and arrived as advertised. I don't think the Wild should mess around with Kaprizov. Anything short of five-years is going to cost them valuable cap-space down the road.
With 34 points in 38 games, he is having a lights-out rookie season and is on pace for 50 points. When looking at the last two players of similar age that had impressive rookie seasons coming from the KHL, Dominik Kubalik and Artemi Panarin, a shorter deal makes sense. We have yet to see a player come from the KHL perform well as an RFA and sign a long-term contract. That really needs to change with Kaprizov.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. At 23 years of age, we're looking at a 70-point floor moving forward. For the next couple years his next deal should provide really good value. A longer contract at $7M to $8M will likely still look like a bargain compared to what he will receive in two or three years if he gets a bridge deal.
Pavel Buchnevich, New York Rangers ($3.25M)
It seems like we have been waiting an eternity for Buchnevich to solidify himself as a top-six forward and legitimate fantasy option. At .92 points-per-game this year, it appears he has finally figured things out.
Assuming he avoids any serious injury over what remains of this shortened season, Buchnevich will crest the 300 games played mark. At 6-3 he qualifies as a 'big-man' and remains about 100 games shy of his breakout threshold. Most will take a .9-point per game player. One with potential upside remaining should make owners very excited.
Three RFA comparables to Buchnevich are Kevin Fiala, Jakub Vrana, and Anthony Mantha. How these contracts shake down will be interesting. Buchnevich is having the best season of the bunch (Fiala is quickly changing that narrative) but we likely end up with two distinct tiers of contracts. With Fiala and Buchnevich earning a million or more per year over Vrana and Mantha.
Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres ($5.2M, Age: 25)
If I am Reinhart I want to get paid to stay in Buffalo. They appear ready to tear it down and rebuild the rebuild. I think there's an even money chance Reinhart goes to arbitration on his next deal, all things considered.
Coming off a one year $5.2M deal Reinhart really bet on himself. With 24-points in 36 games that bet doesn't appear to be paying off in any definitive way. The Sabres appear destined for another lottery