The Contrarian: The Selfish Seven

by Demetri Fragopoulos on October 2, 2016

What are the chances that each of the unsigned RFAs holds out?

Fantasy owners cannot wait for the regular season to start in about ten days. Until then, we hope that our guys manage to come out of the remainder of the pre-season free from injury.

If you own Jaden Schwartz (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Mattias Janmark (SportsDay Dallas Morning News) or Clarke MacArthur (Ottawa Citizen), you are wondering why this had to happen right now. You are also thanking that at least some parts of their recovery will take place before the season begins.

There are other injuries to other players too, and all of the above still applies.

Injuries happen, and they are part of the risk when drafting and trading for your roster. It still sucks, but it could be worse.

Yes, those times when your normally healthy player decides that they need more money or opportunity. We have seven such restricted free agent cases at the moment.

In order of NHL team:


Estimated Wants

Player Agent

Rickard Rakell

$24M over 6 years

Peter Wallen (Octagon)

Hampus Lindholm

$48M over 8 years

Claude Lemieux (4Sports Entertainment)

Tobias Rieder

$5.4M over 2 years or trade

Darren Ferris (Definitive Hockey Group)

Rasmus Ristolainen

Unknown. Skating w/team

Mike Liut (Octagon)

Johnny Gaudreau

$8M per season

Lewis Gross (SPM Sports)

Nikita Kucherov

$6M per season

Scott Greenspun (Eclipse Sports Management)

Jacob Trouba

$56M over 8 years or trade

Kurt Overhardt (KO Sports)


Since these players are restricted free agents, the ball is in the team’s court. If they remember how Steve Yzerman handled the Jonathan Drouin situation, nothing is imminent.

Most analysis like this one by Jared Clinton of The Hockey News follows comparisons to other players with similar statistics. This would be approximately what the player should be asking for and receiving as remuneration for their services. It is all about the money.

If a player’s wants are higher than their comparables, then we think of them as a selfish, non-conforming, greed bum. Sit down, shut up, sign on the dotted line, jump on the ice and get some points for me. Thank you very much.

If a player’s wants are in-line or below the comparables then we think of the club’s management as a bunch of collection of penny pinching, tight wad, Grinches and Scrooges. Sit down, shut up, give my player what they deserve, open the locker room door and let them get some points for me. Thank you very much.

Why did I list the player agent alongside the player?

I list the agents involved to see if there are any patterns with other players they represented. Can we determine the likelihood a holdout will occur?

Rakell (35%) – His agent, Peter Wallen, also represents Gabriel Landeskog, Victor Hedman, Patrik Berglund, Jonas Brodin, Jhonas Enroth, Elias Lindholm and Jacob Markstrom. Nothing suggests that he deploys the holdout strategy as a weapon in negotiations.

Lindholm (35%) – Again, I could not find any pattern of holding out. There might have been contract issues with Cody Hodgson and TJ Galiardi, but I could not find anything substantive to support the suspicion. Lemieux happens to be Mathieu Perreault’s agent.

Ristolainen (50%) – While everything looks good because Rasmus is skating at camp, there is a chance that things could go astray. Octagon represents many players but of ones that I know Liut handled, R.J. Umberger (held out with Vancouver and eventually ended up as a Ranger) and Jeff Halpern (brief holdout in 2001 with Washington). If you want a positive, he represented and assisted Alexander Burmistrov’s come back to Winnipeg.

Rieder (75%) – I could not determine any pattern of holding out from his agent. Since the apparent gap in money is so small you would think that a deal will be made and a trade will follow some time later but it looks like he now wants out of the desert before signing a deal. A perceived insult damages as bad as an actual insult.

Trouba (100%) – Talk about wanting a top four role in a right-handed spot on defense is partially true but also a slight misdirection. It is a way to justify what they are asking for. I do not fault him for it nor any of the other restricted free agents. They want to get as much as they can now because you never know what the future will hold. Brendan Morrison, Marty Turco, Kyle Turris and Ryan Johansen all have sat out as leverage in negotiations.

Kucherov (100%) – No history of holding out by his agent but this is a case where it is about money, more accurately how much space the Tampa Bay Lightning have under the cap. What will happen here is either another player will be moved or enough games will be played so that the pro-rated amount of his contract for the remainder of the year will fit underneath the cap. If it is the latter, then Tampa Bay will have bought some time to figure out which of their players will be trade later.

Gaudreau (100%) – If you have enough nerve to tell a champion team to give your client more money, then you will have the guts to do the same with the Calgary Flames. Lewis Gross represented Denis Potvin when he said he was worth more than what the defending Stanley Cup New York Islanders were willing to give him. He also did the same with John LeClair and his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. For some reason Calgary has had some big names, Jarome Iginla, Joe Niewendyk and even Theoren Fleury for a short time, withhold their services.

If you have any of these seven guys this year, especially Kucherov and Gaudreau, I feel bad for you. However, if it means my fantasy team ends up beating yours then it is a magnificent development for me.

It is okay to be a bit selfish, right?