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Listing five noteworthy September RFAs

Sep 2, 2013, 9:30 AM EST

pietrangeloshootsgetty Getty Images

We looked at five significant unrestricted free agents yesterday. There are still some helpful players looking for jobs, but there are some great restricted free agents that also need contracts.

Most of the time, RFAs that hold out all summer end up agreeing to terms either just before or shortly after the start of training camp. But sometimes these negotiations drag on into the regular season or prompt a trade. There’s even a chance that an opposing club could decide to make life a little more complicated for a team near the salary cap by extending an offer sheet.

With that in mind, here are five restricted free agents to keep an eye on:

1) Alex Pietrangelo — The Blues’ cap situation is healthy and the 23-year-old Pietrangelo is a vital part of the team, so you would think that the two sides would be able to work something out before the start of the regular season. Of course, you could point to P.K. Subban‘s talks with the Montreal Canadiens, which dragged into the 2013 campaign, but the lockout makes those situations largely incomparable. Drew Doughty‘s situation in 2011 works a little better though and he ended up missing the entire preseason before inking an eight-year, $56 million contract with the Los Angeles Kings. The main thing to keep in mind though is that Subban, Pietrangelo, and Doughty have something in common: They are all represented by Newport Sports’ Don Meehan. At the same time, Pietrangelo insists that he’s “not even thinking about holding out.”

2) Nazem Kadri — The Toronto Maple Leafs spent freely this summer and they consequently have less than $5 million in cap space left to ink Kadri and fellow RFA Cody Franson. Kadri noted that worrying about the Leafs’ cap situation isn’t his job and it’s gotten to the point where he’s frustrated with the way the negotiations have been going. At the same time, he denied a report that he’s demanding a six-year, $30 million contract. After all that, he decided to just stop talking about it until he has a deal. We’ll see if the Leafs and Kadri end up agreeing to a bridge contract to determine if his 44-point 2013 campaign is genuinely representative of the type of player he is now.

3) Derek Stepan — Like Kadri, Stepan broke out last season with 18 goals and 44 points in 48 games. The difference is that Stepan has a longer history of success in the NHL and therefore can make a better case for a lucrative long-term deal, if that’s what he’s after. The only problem is that the New York Rangers don’t have the cap space to give him that kind of contract right now. With roughly $2 million in projected cap space, they aren’t even really in a position to offer him a bridge contract without getting creative. Stepan is content to let his agent and the team handle the ongoing negotiations, although he recently spoke on the matter and said that “these things take time.” Not that there’s much time left before the start of training camp.

4) Cody Hodgson — The Buffalo Sabres have shifted their focus towards building for the future and as a consequence of that, they have plenty of cap space. That doesn’t mean they’ll be liberal with their money when it comes to Hodgson, but it does lessen the possibility of them being outmaneuvered by an offer sheet. Hodgson had 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games last season, but the 23-year-old still has plenty to prove at the NHL level. He seems like an ideal candidate for a bridge contract, although he might have held out this long in the hope of getting something better.

5) Marcus Johansson — If there was a loser in the Washington Capitals’ decision to sign Mikhail Grabovski, it might have been Johansson as they now have a little under $2.7 million in cap space. Johansson scored six goals and registered 16 assists in 34 games last season while getting some playing time with Alex Ovechkin. With the Capitals lack of cap flexibility, it is possible that Johansson will be dealt before the start of the 2013-14 campaign, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see him sign a one-year contract just below Washington’s limit in the hopes that he earns a regular spot with Ovechkin and is a stronger negotiating position next summer.

  1. thailer35 - Sep 2, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    I know there was already an article about him yesterday, but besides alex pietrangelo, boedker should top this list. The coyotes are a pretty different team if they dont have boedker.

  2. icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 2, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    I really don’t think the Caps will skip a beat if Johansson isn’t brought back. He isn’t a bad player but he isn’t one to become a game-breaker.

    • phlyerzpwnu - Sep 2, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      Luckily…there isn’t much of a beat to skip anyway.

  3. stakex - Sep 2, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    The Rangers have more then $2 million in cap space to work with.

    They already have 14 forwards and 8 defensemen on the roster… which means in theory that when Stepan is singed they could shed as many as 5 contracts before the season starts. There is some argument that due to Hagglin and Callahan being injured the Rangers might need to carry 14 players to start the season, but that’s just speculation. Even then they will be able to trim two defensemen and one forwards, giving them about $2.4 million more in cap space. $4.4 million is a lot more to work with then $2.

  4. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 2, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Leafs actually have about a little over $6M to play with, not under $5 as stated. Capgeek shows the Leafs only have $4.9M in cap space, but they’re including Trevor Smith (550k) and Korby Holzer ($787k) who will both be with the Marlies. It’s not a big difference in space, but $6.2M they actually have could be enough if Kadri and Franson are both willing to sign for around $3M per year. I still think they’ll end up having to do something with Liles to make enough space, whether it’s trading him, stuffing him in the minors, or buying him out.

    • skuba7 - Sep 2, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      @Lupy, ok, so Holzer and Smith aren’t necessary going to be playing in the NHL, at least to start the year. But the Leafs only have 19 skaters under contract including Holzer and Smith. Take them out, and you are left with 17 skaters. Sign Kadri and Franson, you’re back to 19, but then are short 1 or 2 contracts. Teams carry 23 NHL contracts. $5M is a realistic number for the Leafs, and if they can get Cody and Nazem to both sign for $5M (per year) total, Nonis is the frontrunner for GM of the year.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 3, 2013 at 10:25 PM

        Yeah that must have been why I said “I still think they’ll end up having to do something with Liles to make enough space, whether it’s trading him, stuffing him in the minors, or buying him out.”

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