NHL’s 5 Top RFA’s for 2021

NHL’s 5 Top RFA’s for 2021

By using Capfriendly as many of us die hard hockey fans do, we can see how all the contracts fall in place and who are the NHL’s top 5 RFA’s that have still yet to sign their 1st big contract in the league.

Top RFA’s as per Cap Friendly

I’ve assembled my Avengers team; well at least Big Bang Theory of talented hockey writers who cover their teams with their every fiber. To answer direct questions as to what the update is on their Matthew Barzel or Vince Dunn.

Mathew Barzal – New York Islanders

Guests – From IslesBlogRob Taub and from NYI Hockey NowChristian Arnold

What’s the update on Barzal?

  • Rob: Right now, nothing. Everything is tight-lipped. I do expect the team to get him signed before the season starts
  • Christian: Only thing I’m hearing is what LeBrun reported yesterday. We won’t know anything until the deal is done.

What type of Contract are we looking at here : Bridge, one year or long term?

  • Rob: Three years
  • Christian: I’d say it’s a bridge deal. Think Barzal will want to fully cash in a few yards from now.

If we look at money, whats a rough salary estimate?

  • Rob: 7
  • Christian: For bridge? $7 mill per year for 2/3 years

If we are looking at some kind of comparables around the league, who would it be?

  • Rob: For only three years, not really sure. Hmm.
  • Christian: Hmmm that’s a good question I’m not sure. But If I had to, I feel like I’d want to point to Leafs and Marner.

If another team out there would make an RFA offer sheet, who would it be?

  • Rob: There isn’t. Not in this current climate. But let’s say Chicago. LOL.
  • Christian: Hmm, I just don’t think there’s any that could or would. I’d say maybe Rangers.

Last question, is there a possibility of a holdout?

  • Rob: After what I was told this morning, I’m not gonna say it’s not impossible.
  • Christian: I don’t think so. I think it gets resolved before even coming close to that prospect.

With our 3 heads put together; we are looking at a 3 Years, 7 million dollars contract with a rare chance at either an offer or buyout.

Anthony Cirelli – Tampa Bay Lightning

Guests – From Raw ChargeAchariya and Matthew S Esteves

What’s the update on Barzal?

  • Acha: HE IS FINE EVERYTHING IS FINE WE ARE ALL FINE!
  • Matthew: Crickets. The Lightning isn’t an organization that allows much to leak out. All we know is that talks are “ongoing”. Kucherov uncertainty entering the season probably helps the negotiations. (Update: It’s been said Kucherov is out for regular season since this blog was posted)

What type of Contract are we looking at here: Bridge, one year, or long term?

  • Acha: Heck, Yzerman gave Kucherov a bridge deal. If JBB (GM Briesbois) has any of his Jedi skills he’ll do the same.
  • Matthew: Bridge, like Sergachev. Assuming 3 yrs.

If we look at money, whats a rough salary estimate?

  • Acha: I hope for 3.5 for 3 years, Justin (also from Raw Charge) thinks more about 4 million.
  • Matthew: between 3-4M per year.

If we are looking at some kind of comparables around the league, who would it be?

  • Acha: well, Vasilevskiy was on a bridge deal that was 3.5 for 3 years, but it’s not really a comparable position. Johnson & Palat both had 3.3~ bridge deals for three years. Cirelli is arguably better so 3.5-3.7. Sergachev got 4.8 x 3 but again the positions aren’t comparable.
  • Matthew: Nah, Serge in sense of length. Killorn’s bridge could be one. Also could see Couturier’s bridge from a while ago be one. Cirelli hadn’t put up the counting numbers that makes me think he will get a ton of money. His defensive game should make up for that. TB have consistently given out 2-3 year bridges to just about everyone before giving them, larger paydays. They paid Kucherov barely over 3M for 3 years before he got paid. So, the culture is to take less early and bank in later.

If another team out there would make an RFA offer sheet, who would it be?

  • Acha: Who even has space? Detroit would be a coup. I wonder if rangers still have a lot of space.
  • Matthew: Anyone with the cojones to do so. If there hasn’t been an offer sheet yet, there won’t be one once the camps start.

Last question, is there a possibility of a holdout?

  • Acha: Yeah, always. He should get some bites, just like Kucherov – if he doesn’t like the contract offered.
  • Matthew: Columbus, Nashville, and New York (Rangers) would be teams that should be throwing offer sheets IMO.

Lightning fans we are looking at another bridge deal. What else is new in the Bay? We’ll what do you say with 3 years at 3.7 million. Is it possible that there’s an offer sheet? Maybe, but not anymore with Kucherov going on LTIR in our estimates.

Pierre Luc Dubois – Blue Jackets

Guests – From – The CannonWill Chase and from JablamSportsLogan Proskurniak

What’s the update on PLD lads?

  • Logan: Shouldn’t be much to worry about. They’re talking.
  • Will: I have had no doubt he will be signed and last I heard talks have heated up. I can look for the specific tweet/story on that but I expect it to be soon.

What type of Contract are we looking at here: Bridge, one year or long term?

  • Will: That’s a good question. Jackets have been tough in similar scenarios before ala Josh Anderson. I could see Dubois maybe wanting bridge if he wants to test FA but Jarmo has had a propensity for dishing out long-term deals. Much like Cam and Foligno guess it depends on Jones and Werenski in a few years but they need the center depth
  • Logan: I don’t know for sure what they’re working on. I just know both sides are confident they’ll have a deal by camp. My guess is a bridge for 6M a year.

If we look at money, whats a rough salary estimate?

  • Will: I’ve seen projections (potential suggestions) around 6.9 cap hit. Dubois has some leverage in that he’s dependable and durable. He’s never missed a game (reg season or playoffs). But I guess the team might operate based on pandemic and thinking about the future signings. Maybe he signs close to the three years 15 mil deal that Werenski got last year. They also have Domi up in a few years so a lot of make or break on the horizon.
  • Logan: I just know it’s gonna get done. Werenski got $5 a year and I assume they’ll give PLD more for a couple of reasons. But I think the bridge deal makes sense for everyone.

If we are looking at some kind of comparables around the league, who would it be?

  • Will: He’s similar to guys like Clayton Keller (7.1). I was looking at Barzal and he’s rumored to be in the 6-7 range so that’s what I imagine for Dubois. That for Barzal was mainly on the short term but maybe either way.
  • Logan: Werenski is for this team I’d think so. I mean they could probably do more for PLD. So I guess somewhere between 6-7 is my guess.

If another team out there would make an RFA offer sheet, who would it be?

  • Will: Yeah I’m not sure about the offer sheet. I know it’s so rare in a regular year, let alone during a pandemic. Jackets cleared a lot of cap space letting go of Murray, Nutivaara, Wennberg. Fans have been clamoring for the jackets to sign someone and others think there’s an internal cap. So I think they’re well set up to match any offer. Plus the added impact of what someone would have to give up
  • Logan: I honestly don’t see that happening. I just would be stunned at this point if anyone did.

Last question, is there a possibility of a holdout?

  • Will: You never know, but I just doubt it. I really think something gets done very soon. Anderson and Ryan Johanson both had their negotiating issues but eventually signed. I don’t see Dubois holding out. They really need him because finally, for only the second time, the jackets have 2 legit centers.
  • Logan: I mean it’s always possible until it’s signed but I just feel like both sides have an interest in getting it done. It’s not like some of the discussions they’ve had in the past.

Expect the Dubois deal do get done quickly as they will want to get him signed for sure. A bridge 3 year deal at roughly 6 million sounds fair for both sides.

Dylan Strome – Chicago Blackhawks

Guests – From – Bleacher NationMario Tirabassi and from The Hockey WritersBrooke LoFurno

What’s the update on Strome, you know the one in Chicago, umm. Dylan right?

  • Mario: I all know is Strome’s side is trying to find their leverage, but he doesn’t have much. I’m positive a deal will be done before training camps end
  • Brooke: Nothing much, unfortunately. Other than Stan saying that they’re still negotiating and he is staying optimistic that a deal will get done!

What type of Contract are we looking at here: Bridge, one year or long term?

  • Mario: I’d be shocked if it ends up being any longer than 3 years.
  • Brooke: Considering that there has been no trade speculation around him, I do believe a deal will get done with the Hawks. As far as a deal goes, I don’t see long-term. I believe it could be more of a one-year, “prove it” deal, type of situation.

If we look at money, whats a rough salary estimate?

  • Mario: My estimate is probably around $3M.
  • Brooke: About 1.5 million.

If we are looking at some kind of comparables around the league, who would it be?

  • Mario: Best comparison I can think of is Roope Hintz’s deal. !!!
  • Brooke: I would think a deal as what Erik Haula just got would be a good comparison. Maybe a little bit less than $1.75 million for 1 year.

If another team out there would make an RFA offer sheet, who would it be?

  • Mario: LA. Though no one is offering in reality.
  • Brooke: The first two teams that come to my mind are maybe the Sabres and the Oilers. They could both use a center of his caliber.

Last question, is there a possibility of a holdout?

  • Mario: Doubt it.
  • Brooke: I don’t think so. It’s not a situation like William Nylander where we all knew he could command $6+ million a year. Strome can’t really command enough to cause a holdout, in my opinion. Like my partner at The Hockey Writers, Greg says, Strome doesn’t have a whole ton of leverage.

In the case of Dylan Strome, he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on compared to even his peers. We are looking at a 2-year deal at about 2 million.

Vince Dunn – St.Louis Blues

Guests – From St. Louis Game TimeLaura Astorian and The Hockey WritersCarter Chapley

What’s the update on Dunner?

  • Laura: Hey! I haven’t heard a dang thing.
  • Carter: Talks are happening but I don’t think Dunn is in a rush to sign something that isn’t right. I’ve heard a lot of different things but it’s hard to weed out what’s true. It’s all in the air.

What type of Contract are we looking at here: Bridge, one year or long term?

  • Laura: I don’t think there’s any reason to not sign him to a longer-term deal, TBH.
  • Carter: I Heard he doesn’t mind holding out or signing a 1-year bridge.

If we look at money, whats a rough salary estimate?

  • Laura: That’s tough because he’s in for a raise but I don’t know how the Blues will (or can) use what they have from Steen. I’d say 1.75-2.25 mil.
  • Carter: About in the 2-3 million range. The team wants to hold onto some cap space for a forward this year.

If we are looking at some kind of comparables around the league, who would it be?

  • Laura: No one earth-shattering – Rasmussen Andersson, probably is as close as I can figure.
  • Carter: On the ice, he’s been similar in production and impact to a guy like Jacob Trouba or Ivan Provorov to a lesser extent.

If another team out there would make an RFA offer sheet, who would it be?

  • Laura: Ottawa could probably use someone with any sort of skill. I don’t know if they have the guts to offer sheet anyone but he’d help them. A pylon would help them right now.
  • Carter: Without looking too deeply a team like the Rangers might like what he brings and be willing to give up the picks if they think they can win now.

Last question, is there a possibility of a holdout?

  • Laura: That I haven’t heard – I mean, I guess there always is, especially if Armstrong’s not throwing the world at a player. Honestly, he never does.
  • Carter: Blackhawks might also make sense. Yea absolutely. I don’t know how likely but I could absolutely see it happening. Probably not long, but into training camp.

Dunn seems the least likely to be re-signed by the team and they would love an outside offer coming in. Is it possible, it’s still very rare. If he does sign an estimate would only be for 1 year at 2.5 million.

As Carter continued: The issue is that the cap situation makes him really in flux coming off his ELC. The team is cap-poor and it’s not like anyone is going to offer sheet him. I doubt he wants to sign a long-term deal when he knows he won’t be getting fair value (which is probably something in the 4-6 range long term). So it is hard to ballpark exactly what type of deal he’s going to get.

Overall it’s a tough pandemic world we are all dealing with right now. NHL’s top 5 RFA’s just want to just play and the owner, well we know where most of their minds are at (protecting their world’s). I believe, just as well as my misfit crew of nerdy avengers does. That they’ll all be signed come January 13th, but maybe not Vince Dunn.

Thank you for the help from all my colleagues, this was fun.

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