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. Oilers, Flames AHL affiliates to play outdoor game

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

    gshr_raley

    Bakersfield and Stockton will play in West Sacramento, Calif. on Dec. 18.

  2. Report: Hawks’ Kane has not been asked to waive his no-move clause

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Patrick Kane Patrick Kane

    As many as five teams are reportedly interested in acquiring the 26-year-old.

  3. Wings’ Franzen: ‘I’m excited to try to get back and have a good year’

    Sep 2, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT

    Johan Franzen Johan Franzen

    The Swede hopes to be cleared of his latest concussion in time for the season opener.

  4. Blackhawks sign Nordstrom to a one-year deal

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT

    Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    The 23-year-old appeared in 38 games with Chicago last season.

  5. After recovering from serious bike crash, Sarich holds out comeback hope

    Sep 2, 2015, 1:57 PM EDT

    Colorado Avalanche v Calgary Flames Getty Images

    “I’m a realist. If nothing happens, that’s the way it is.”

  6. Trade target Cowen says Sens’ support has been ‘awesome’

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT

    Jared Cowen

    “I know that it’s not just me that feels I can be a lot better and be the player that I know I’m going to be and I want to be.”

  7. Ex-‘Hawks goalie Raanta tees off on former club

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT

    Antti Raanta Antti Raanta

    He also wanted them to get swept in the opening playoff round against Nashville, apparently.

  8. Report: Devils captain Salvador to retire this week (Update: Official)

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT

    Bryce Salvador #24 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the New York Islanders at the Prudential Center on September 19, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.
(September 18, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    After missing most of last season with a back injury.

  9. Sharks to honor original owner Gund with banner

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    It will be raised before the home opener on Oct. 10.

  10. Canes coach Peters making tweaks with emphasis on being more dangerous offensively

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT

    Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    They were near the bottom of the league in that regard last season.

  11. Eichel planning to move in with Moulson

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    “The way he offered his house to me shows what kind of person he is.”

  12. Lightning’s trip to Stanley Cup Final boosts season ticket sales

    Sep 1, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT

    Stamkos Getty Images

    They had strong attendance numbers last season too.

  13. St. Louis offers Upshall a professional tryout

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT

    Scottie Upshall Getty Images

    The Blues have a vacancy with Patrik Berglund out for at least four months.

  14. Crosby, Toews, Weber, Price lead pack in NHL 16’s ratings

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Stadium Series - Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    A few players have leapfrogged Steven Stamkos.

  15. Marchand rehabbing from offseason elbow surgery

    Sep 1, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT

    Brad Marchand Getty Images

    He played through the injury in 2014-15.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1724)
  2. P. Kessel (1489)
  3. M. Richards (1252)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1084)
  5. N. Backstrom (1063)