Skip to content

With training camps looming, a look at some key unsigned RFAs

Sep 2, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

Ryan Johansen Getty Images

Potential holdouts, anyone? Here’s your primer for all the talented youngsters than remain unsigned into September…

Ryan Johansen, Columbus

The most talked about of the group, Johansen’s currently embroiled in a contract stalemate that could result with him missing training camp. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s on record saying he doesn’t want the 22-year-old to miss any camp time (“It’s very, very important that we start as a team,” he told the Dispatch) but at this point, there’s a reported $3-$3.5M gap between what the club is offering and what Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, is asking for.

Both sides have a decent amount of leverage. Columbus will argue that Johansen only has one quality NHL campaign on his resume, doesn’t have arbitration rights and has yet to receive an offer sheet from another club. The Johansen camp will counter that last year’s effort was much more than a quality campaign (he finished 11th in the NHL with goals, 33, and was the team’s most important player not named Sergei Bobrovsky.) Overhardt could also use the Jackets’ success against them — the club is coming off the best season in franchise history. Do they really want to kill that momentum by playing hardball with their brightest young star?

Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, Boston

Both players have fallen victim — thus far — to the Bruins’ ugly cap situation, explained here by the Boston Globe:

The Bruins are in a jam. They have approximately $69 million committed toward 2014-15. This includes Marc Savard’s $4,027,143 annual cap hit and roughly $4.75 million in overage penalties (bonuses achieved last year by Jarome Iginla, Torey Krug, and Dougie Hamilton) they must apply toward their number.

By opening night, they will use the long-term injury exception on Savard to exceed the cap by his average annual value. But even when accounting for that deletion, the Bruins have little breathing room to re-sign Krug and Reilly Smith.

It would be possible to re-up Krug and Smith without moving salary; it would not be preferable. Management would have close to zero roster flexibility to trade or sign players or carry extra bodies.

A trade, therefore, is coming.

Neither Krug nor Smith have suggested they’d hold out of camp but, earlier this summer, reports surfaced of Krug getting a “big” offer from a KHL club.

Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has a tricky situation on his hands — he must deal with this year’s RFAs while keeping an eye on next year’s class, which will include the likes of Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula. As such, Fletcher has repeatedly stressed the importance of making the “right deal” for Niederreiter and Kuemper, and it sounds as though the latter is looking for a bigger (or, better) deal than the one Minnesota is offering.

“Darcy certainly has great potential and played very well in stretches for us this season, but at the end of the day I think he’s played around 30 games in the NHL,” Fletcher told the Star-Tribune earlier this month. “Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league and once he does that it’ll be a little simpler to come up with terms.”

That said, it doesn’t sound like the Wild are anticipating Kuemper to miss significant training camp/preseason time, as head coach Mike Yeo already said Kuemper would play one of Minnesota’s first three exhibition games.

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis

Very quiet on this front lately. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has a reputation for dragging out RFA negotiations (see: Alex Pietrangelo) and playing hardball — just ask the Vladimir Sobotka camp. That said, the Blues do have approximately $2.7M in available cap space and a bit of roster flexibility, so the pieces are in place to get a deal done by the time training camp starts.

Tyson Barrie, Colorado

Many pundits figured the blueprint for Barrie’s new deal came last week, when Edmonton signed offensive defenseman Justin Schultz to a one-year, $3.675M contract. But that blueprint might not have looked like the one Colorado originally drew up — per the Denver Post, the Avs were reportedly looking at a deal that would pay Barrie $2.4-$3.5 million next season.

Danny DeKeyser, Detroit

In terms of value to his team, DeKeyser is right up there with Johansen in Columbus — the 24-year-old rearguard averaged 21:38 TOI for the Wings last year (upped to over 23 minutes per night in the playoffs) and scored 23 points in 65 games. But I sort of buried him in this piece because his new deal in Detroit is fait accompli — DeKeyser said he wants to be in Detroit and has no worries about a deal getting done, and GM Ken Holland has re-iterated most of the same.

Others…

Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin remain unsigned in Dallas, but it’s important to remember that Stars GM Jim Nill came from the Detroit organization, where RFA deals often lingered right up until the start of training camp… Nashville and Ryan Ellis sound as though they’re still a ways apart on a new deal…The Rangers, who are approximately $1.5M away from the salary cap ceiling, still need to get something done with defenseman John Moore… Anaheim is still working on a contract for forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who had a fantastic postseason and led the team in playoff goals, with five.

Latest Posts
  1. Arbitrator awards Marcus Johansson $3.75M contract

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Marcus Johansson Getty Images

    That’s close to the middle between his and Washington’s requests.

  2. Maloney: RFA Domingue will play in Europe

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Louis Domingue Getty Images

    The decision surprised Arizona’s general manager.

  3. Siegenthaler signs entry-level contract with Caps

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT

    Jonas Siegenthaler Getty Images

    The defenseman spent the 2014-15 campaign in the Swiss League.

  4. One month later, Mike Richards’ future remains murky

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers Getty Images

    There is a key deadline approaching though.

  5. Subban working out with former Olympian Ben Johnson

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT

    P.K. Subban Getty Images

    Johnson won a gold medal in 1988, but it was taken away because of a positive steroids test.

  6. Quebecor seeks partners in Quebec City bid

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators Getty Images

    There’s a $500 million expansion fee to consider.

  7. How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos?

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Because once Voracek’s eight-year contract kicks in, they’ll be part of that list.

  8. Report: Further coaching hires expected for Sharks

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:27 PM EDT

    Peter DeBoer Getty Images

    Former NHL stars are among the list of likely candidates.

  9. Habs’ Galchenyuk inks two-year extension

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:52 PM EDT

    Alex Galchenyuk Getty Images

    The deal is reportedly worth $5.6 million.

  10. Flames prospect Kylington cleared to play in North America

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT

    Oliver Kylington Getty Images

    At one point he was listed as the top European skater in the 2015 draft.

  11. Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:52 PM EDT

    Jakub Voracek Getty Images

    The Flyers also have forwards Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier locked up.

  12. Zubrus clears waivers, is ‘surprised’ by buyout

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:22 PM EDT

    Dainius Zubrus Getty Images

    The 37-year-old still wants to continue his career.

  13. Coyotes want long-term deal with Glendale

    Jul 30, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT

    PNI Coyotes Deal 0611 PNI Coyotes Deal 0611

    “Nobody benefits from a short-term deal like this, in particular, our hockey department.”

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Stepan (2475)
  2. L. Couture (1666)
  3. J. Toews (1637)
  4. G. Bettman (1532)
  5. A. Chiasson (1446)
  1. A. Larsson (1364)
  2. B. Gionta (1289)
  3. C. Wilson (1270)
  4. B. Holtby (1228)
  5. M. Johansson (1199)