Top 10 Interesting Restricted Free Agents

Tom Collins

2022-06-20

Everyone loves free-agent-frenzy day, but in my mind there’s no topping what might happen with restricted free agents. They don’t have a specific day, but these decisions can impact a team’s future.

Of course, for those of us in cap leagues, we want all these players to sign for the league minimum if they are on our roster.

Sometimes, it’s smart for a team to sign a RFA to a long-term deal to save money down the road. Think of how cheap the contracts are for Nathan MacKinnon and David Pastrnak and how that has allowed their teams to keep other players. Or maybe a team signs a bridge contract for short-term cap space, but it backfires on the player’s next contract, a la P.K. Subban.

There are risks/rewards for each situation, which makes RFAs more fun than UFAs. You can usually tell immediately if a UFA signing is bad or good, but a RFA signing can take a few years before the value is realized.

Below are 10 restricted free agents who you could argue would be better for either a short-term or a long-term deal.

10. Kaapo Kahkonen

As it stands now, the Sharks can go into next season paying three NHL netminders, but Kahkonen is not one of them. The Sharks already have James Reimer and Adin Hill on their roster for another year and are paying Martin Jones for the next five seasons not to play for them. Where does Kahkonen fit into that? He posted the best numbers with the Sharks (though just a 2-6-1 record) with a team-best 0.916 SV%, 58.3% QS and a GSAA of 1.66 – also a team best. But the Sharks look ready for a rebuild. Many had pegged Kahkonen as the next great goalie prospect a couple of years ago, but he didn't beat out Cam Talbot in Minnesota for the top job. So, what is a player like that worth to a rebuilding team? Maybe the Sharks want him as the goalie of the future. Or maybe they want to sign him to a one-year deal so he, Reimer and Hill are all free agents next summer and the team can go after the one they think is best at that time. This contract will tell us the story.

9. Dylan Strome

Strome needs to be in a top-six role to succeed. That may sound obvious for so many players, but maybe that is truer than for Strome than anyone else. When he is playing with Mike Hardman and Reese Johnson, like at the start of the season, Strome gets three points in 12 games. When he’s alongside Patrick Kane, he has 45 points in 57 games. He’s not great defensively, so that’s a downside, and there are rumors he will be dealt this off-season. However, he’s hit an 82-game pace of 54 points in three of the last four seasons, so he can be productive when put into the right situation.

8. Brock Boeser

Usually, when a player is in a contract year, they produce at a crazy high level, which