Ramblings: Restricted Free Agents and When to Worry

by Dobber on August 10, 2016


Rambling about the 23 remaining restricted free agents, Connor Hellebuyck and more….


I updated the Fantasy Hockey Guide on Monday. It was my fourth update, just to give you an idea of the frequency. This one had my projected goals-for by team article added. I also updated the Draft List so the unrestricted free agents have projections now (at least – the ones I can be sure will land jobs, that is). Thanks again for your support.


And of course, right after I do that…one of the UFAs I add points for signs to play in the Swiss League. Nick Spaling’s signature on a contract with Geneve-Servette is apparently only “a formality”.

Switzerland again, eh? Do players read my work here?


I love this story about Sidney Crosby seeing a giant sign on the highway asking him to sign a jersey – and how he actually popped in there two weeks later and did so. Great story.


The Oilers canceled their ‘Oilers Octane’. In other words: no more cheerleaders. Can’t say I’ll notice, or care. You?


Clayton Keller, who was drafted seventh overall by Arizona this past summer and is one of the more offensively dynamic prospects out there, has decided to go the college route. He could have signed an ELC and played in the OHL. This generally means he’ll be there for two years as I rarely see a player go to college for just one. And I rarely see a Top 10 pick stay in college for all four – not when there’s money to be made. Just in case you were hoping for an NHL debut in 2017-18.

My Fantasy Prospects List will be out around noon Wednesday and Keller ranks 22nd.


The Columbus AHL affiliate Lake Erie Monsters have decided to change their name. They will be henceforth be known as the Cleveland Monsters. They are the defending AHL champs.


We’re not quite at the point where we need to start getting worried over the RFA players on our team who have yet to sign. In about three weeks we can start squirming a little, and at five weeks we can seriously worry. I don’t like it when more than a couple of days of training camp are missed because I believe that it increases the risk of injury. Here are the 23 players who are restricted free agents. I will comment on the relevant ones:

Louis-Marc Aubry, Detroit

Reid Boucher, New Jersey – The Devils have a ton of cap room and Boucher has to clear waivers to be sent down. So the issue is term and money and I don’t think this is a difficult contract to get done so I expect it will be.

Cody Ceci, Ottawa – It’s not often that a 22-year-old has 205 games under his belt already. Despite not yet breaking out offensively, I suspect that he values himself with all the other young stars who have signed huge deals. Connor Murphy (six years at $3.85M per) is a great example and no-doubt Ceci is claiming to be the better player and deserving of more. This one could be trouble if Ottawa sees things differently.

Stefan Elliott, Nashville – I don’t think he has a leg to stand on. He made $650,000 last season and should probably just accept his qualifying offer. And thank them for giving it.

Brian Ferlin, Boston

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary – Why hasn’t he signed yet? My guess is that the Flames are trying to lock Johnny Hockey down for six or seven years. So the dollars are what’s being discussed. I’m not concerned

Christopher Gibson, NY Islanders

Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo – He’s looking to gloss over last season and just point to 2014-15 instead. But the fact is the Sabres don’t need him for offense anymore. He’s a checking-line player and they’ll want to pay him accordingly. Meanwhile, he’s looking at his 2014-15 numbers and he’s looking at the contracts signed by Vincent Trocheck, Sean Couturier and Andrew Shaw. I’m sure he acknowledges that he’s not as good as those guys nor has he shown enough, but he is probably angling for something close. Those demands will come down by September, but this is another potential problem situation. Thankfully he has little fantasy relevance.

Freddie Hamilton, Calgary

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay – I have full confidence in GM Steve Yzerman here. Kucherov should be getting $7 million per season for the long term. But the Lightning need to shed salary. For now, they only need to shed about $2 million – they’ll just have to worry about next year, next year. Getting a team to take Braydon Coburn off their books would be an easy way to solve their problem. But such a deal would cost them a quality prospect like an Adam Erne or a Brayden Point – something they’re not in any rush to do.

Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim – The 22-year-old will want more than Murphy money because he is already a much more significant part of his team’s roster and everyone involved knows it. The Ducks have about $8 million in cap space and need to figure out how best to divide it between Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. I’m not worried about either RFA.

J.C. Lipon, Winnipeg

Sean Monahan, Calgary – The Flames have $15M in cap space and the delay is in figuring out how best to split the pie between Monahan and Gaudreau. I have a feeling we’ll have a ‘double announcement’ before long, for two long-term deals. Similar to Toronto’s Kadri/Rielly announcement a couple of months ago.

Nikita Nesterov, Tampa Bay

Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas – This is a tricky one because Nichushkin missed a season and then last year he struggled to get the ice time necessary to make any strides. But his upside is as good as anyone’s on this list. The Stars have plenty of cap room ($8 million), but I can see this one going well into September. Could be trouble.

Dmitry Orlov, Washington – Like Nichushkin, Orlov came back from an injury last season. But Orlov put up better numbers (considering the positions they play). His eyes certainly lit up at seeing the Olli Maatta contract (six years, $4.083M per). This one could be trouble because the Caps barely have $3 million in cap space.

Rickard Rakell, Anaheim – See my Lindholm note.

Tobias Rieder, Arizona – A 23-year-old coming off a 37-point season. This is going to be similar to Victor Rask (likely a shade under). Definitely not deserving of it, as his numbers will go down the way Girgensons did when the ‘real’ scoring-line players joined the team. I think Rieder needs to hit 50 points next season because if he doesn’t he’ll be shoved out of the top six in 2017-18.

Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo – Not worried. This one is likely a matter of length (six years or eight?). Sabres have roughly $9 million in cap space.

Ryan Sproul, Detroit – Sproul has to clear waivers to be sent down but the Wings don’t have a spot available for him and I don’t think he’s NHL-ready anyway.

Ryan Strome, NY Islanders – You can bet that Strome, who is coming off of a disappoint season, is eyeing Chris Kreider’s contract. That was a contract that was offered based on potential and not production. Strome wants the same. If he gets it, then it increases his chances of success. Coaches won’t sit $4.625M (Kreider’s contract) on the bench.

Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg – The Jets have plenty of cap space ($10M). I think this one will get done and probably soon. But I think Trouba is looking for Tyson Barrie money while the Jets are more interested in giving Connor Murphy money. The gap will close and they’ll meet in the middle.

Tyler Wotherspoon, Calgary


Here is an interesting ESPN article about where members of the World Cup teams developed. The London Knights and the Kitchener Rangers each have five former players in this tournament, and the OHL has a whole has 33 players in it!


And this piece over at jetsnation discusses Connor Hellebuyck’s chances of make the Jets over one of Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson. He brings up a good point in that Eric Comrie would lose precious playing time if Hellebuyck was down there.


August 9, 1988: