NHL Free Agency: A look at which restricted free agents are still unsigned and why

Summer is over, days are getting shorter and NHL teams are getting ready to officially open up their training camps and kick off preseason in a mere matter of days. And yet, still, there are a number of big name restricted free agents without new contracts across the league. What gives? 

It's been a pretty weird offseason for the NHL, especially in the RFA department. With a slew of very young and talented stars in the market for big pay raises, it's been strangely quiet on that front -- at least in terms of actually putting pen to paper. 

Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner was the most notable RFA "holdout" before finally agreeing to a six-year extension right at the start of camp, but there are many other big pieces that are still without contracts as we head into a new season. It seems as though there's been a lot of standing around and waiting for shoes to drop over the past few months, and there's likely to be a rush of signings over the coming weeks. 

Let's go ahead and take a look at which top names are still unsigned and why. 

2018-19 salary cap hit: $894,167

Perhaps it's because he plays in the hub that is Toronto, but Marner, 22, is essentially leading the way as the most notable marquee RFA of this year's class. He's been the Leafs' leading scorer in each of the past two seasons and set career highs in goals (26), assists (68), points (94) last year. 

As result of his elite production, Marner is seeking a massive payday -- one similar to what teammate Auston Matthews got (five years, $11.6 million AAV). The Maple Leafs are in a bit of a cap crunch and don't seem to want to go that high on Marner's deal, presumably because he plays on the wing while Matthews plays down the middle. They have, however, reported offered Marner multiple long-term offers that carry an AAV of around $11 million. 

Only two wingers in the league -- Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane -- have a cap hit over $10 million annually, but Marner's production and versatility could make him the third guy in that group. The young winger's camp seems to be adamant that he lands very close to Matthews' number on his next deal, whether it's in his hometown of Toronto or elsewhere.

Update: Marner has signed a six-year deal worth $10.893 million annually, making him the second-highest paid winger in the league.


2018-19 salary cap hit: $686,667

Point is emerging as an elite two-way center and, at just 23 years old, he's an incredibly valuable piece to a Lightning team with no shortage of weapons. Point put up career highs in goals (41) and points (92) last season while finishing top 10 in Selke voting for the second year in a row. 

Point is reportedly flexible on the terms of his next deal, whether it be a bridge contract or a long-term extension, but the Lightning are in a tight spot with the cap. New Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois has done a decent job freeing up some money in spots this offseason but they still only have around $8.5 million in cap space and things have still been surprisingly quiet on the Point extension front. 


2018-19 salary cap hit: $894,167

Rantanen,  22, makes up one-third of one of the league's most dangerous and dynamic forward lines. His work alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog in Colorado over the past few years has been awesome, and he's due to cash in on that work soon.

The Finnish winger is coming off two straight 80-point seasons with the Avs, including a career year last season. He also led the team in playoff scoring during their postseason run this past spring. 

Though there hasn't been a ton of movement on the extension front this offseason, the Avs have over $15.5 million in cap space to get a deal done prior to opening night. For a team that is positioning itself to be a Western Conference power not only this season but for years to come, Rantanen will most certainly figure into their plans.


2018-19 salary cap hit: $925,000

The Jets made Laine the second overall pick in 2016 and he rewarded them with 80 total goals over his first two NHL seasons, including 44 in 2017-2018 -- second-most in the NHL that season. He seemed to be emerging as one of the league's most fearsome finsihers but Laine regressed last year and struggled with consistency. That being said, he still ended up putting 30 goals in the back of the net and is just 21 years old.

Extension talks haven't exactly gone well between the two sides this summer. Though they continue to discuss a new deal, recent rumblings out of Winnipeg suggest that the Jets could possibly be looking to move on from the Finnish winger with a deal sending him elsewhere. Winnipeg has a little under $15.5 million in cap space with Laine and Kyle Connor -- another productive young winger -- still unsigned. 

2018-19 salary cap hit: $916,667

A first-round pick in 2016, McAvoy has begun to hit his stride as a top-pairing defenseman at the NHL ranks. He was a huge piece of the blue line on a Bruins team that reached the Stanley Cup Final last season, and he's expected to serve as the pillar that holds the defensive corps up once Zdeno Chara retires, which could come as soon as next offseason. 

McAvoy, 21, is turning into a two-way force, shutting down opponents' top talent while also putting up decent offensive numbers. He led all Bruins defensemen in ice time and even-strength points last season, but he has struggled to remain consistently healthy during his short career thus far. 

The young defenseman doesn't seem to be interested in going elsewhere, and he can't be signed to an offer sheet due to service time. Though he's publicly stated that he wants to stay in Boston "forever," he's already turned down a long-term deal from the Bruins, who are tight on the cap. (Boston has about $7.3 million in cap space with both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo unsigned.)

The contract that RFA Jacob Trouba signed with the Rangers earlier this offseason (seven years, $8 million AAV) could serve as somewhat of a benchmark for McAvoy's demands. His camp is reportedly looking for a deal that carries an AAV somewhere around the $7.5 million mark.

Update: McAvoy has signed a three-year bridge deal with the Bruins. The extension carries an AAV of $4.9 million.

2018-19 salary cap hit: $925,000

Over the course of his first three seasons in the NHL, Tkachuk has not only established himself as one of the league's most effective and annoying pests, but also a versatile and productive force on the wing. The 21-year-old is coming off a great year in which he set career highs in goals (34), assists (43) and points (77).

He's become an integral part of the Flames both on and off the ice, so it seems like only a matter of time before the two sides strike a deal. It'll be interesting to see what AAV and term Tkachuk commands, but he could very well be the team's highest paid player when negotiations are said and done. Calgary has about $7.75 million in cap space remaining with Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane still unsigned.


2018-19 salary cap hit: $925,000

Boeser, 22, has become one of Vancouver's young pillars as they look to build toward the future. He's been productive on the wing, scoring a total of 55 goals and adding 56 assists over the past two seasons. He's struggled with his health a bit (he has yet to play 70 games in a season) but he's proven that his great shot translates to production at the NHL level. 

The Canucks only have $4.1 million in cap space available and that probably won't be enough to get Boeser signed, but he's ineligible for an offer sheet and Vancouver is still reportedly exploring ways to shed money. The most sensible solution would be to shed winger Loui Eriksson via trade, though they'll still likely have to retain a portion of his $6 million cap hit over the next three seasons.

Either way, Boeser is very likely to stick around in Vancouver.

Update: Boeser has signed a three-year bridge extension carrying an AAV of $5.875 million.


2018-19 salary cap hit: $925,000

Connor, 22, has turned into quite a piece for the Jets. He has somewhat quietly put together back-to-back 30-goal seasons in Winnipeg, including a 2018-2019 campaign in which he set career highs in goals (34), assists (32) and points (66) while playing on the Jets' top line. He's a two-way player who also contributes on special teams. 

While Laine might be commanding most of the headlines, Connor is still very much an important RFA in Winnipeg. With less than $16 million in cap space to get them both signed before the start of the season, it will be interesting to see how things shake out and which shoe will drop first. 

2018-19 salary cap hit: $789,167

Though he doesn't have quite the offensive upside as McAvoy, Carlo is another important young pillar on the Bruins' defensive unit. Last season he really came into his own as a second-pairing shutdown guy and, at just 22 years old, he was a major piece in their playoff run that carried them to within a win of hoisting the Stanley Cup. Boston hopes he'll continue to be a defensive stalwart on their back end for years to come .

But with about $7.3 million available to get McAvoy and Carlo signed, Boston is in a really tight spot heading into camp. It's very unlikely both of those guys get long-term extensions and Carlo is probably more of a candidate for a short-term bridge deal.

Update: Carlo has signed a two-year bridge extension with a $2.85 million AAV. 


2018-19 salary cap hit: $894,167

Konecny, 22, has been a steady contributor on the wing in Philly over the past few years. He's scored 24 goals in back-to-back seasons while averaging an additional 24 assists in each of those two years.

The Flyers opened up negotiations with the winger over the summer and, although they haven't yet struck a deal, the team has over $13.4 million in cap to get him and Ivan Provorov signed before the season.

2018-19 salary cap hit: $894,167

After a very good season in 2017-18, Provorov saw his performance slip last season. He went from 17 goals, 41 points and a plus-17 rating to just seven goals, 26 points and a minus-16 rating on a Flyers team that really struggled to keep it together on the back end.

Still, he's a talented 22-year-old with upside and he's in line for a big pay raise this offseason. The three-year, $15 million contract that RFA defenseman Zach Werenski signed with the Blue Jackets could be a comparable for Provorov. 

Update: Provorov has signed a six-year extension worth $6.75 million AAV.

2018-19 salary cap hit: $863,333

Fiala, 23, has shown flashes of offensive brilliance over the first three-plus years of his NHL career, but he regressed this past season after scoring 23 goals for the Predators in 2017-18. He struggled with consistency and scored just 13 goals in 83 regular season games split between the Preds and Wild last year after being traded at the mid-season deadline.

Though he hasn't yet reached an extension in Minnesota, you may be able to chalk that up to the fact that the Wild's front office situation has been a mess this offseason. They fired GM Paul Fenton in late July -- after the draft and free agency -- and recent brought in Bill Guerin to replace him. Guerin has a little under $8 million in cap space to work out a deal with Fiala so it shouldn't be much of a problem to get him inked before the start of the season.

Update: Fiala has reached a two-year, $6 million ($3 million AAV) extension with the Wild.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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