Restricted Free Agency In November?

November 3rd, 2009 by Fantana Leave a reply »
Jonathan Toews is one of 3 Chicago Blackhawks that are RFA's this summer.

Jonathan Toews is one of 3 Chicago Blackhawks that are RFA's this summer.

Unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) are the most hyped free agents in the NHL but are they the best free agents? Last week, we looked at unrestricted free agents in October and today, we’ll look at restricted free agents in November.

Since the lockout, things have changed and the league has become a younger league. Top draft picks used to require a few years of ‘seasoning’ because they could crack the NHL, and even then, it would take a few more years before they became impact players. Yet in today’s league, we have 18 year olds that flat-out dominate men in their 30’s. The emergence of young talent across the league makes restricted free agents (RFA) a better deal that UFA’s. Here are some of next summer’s top RFA’s:

Bobby Ryan – Anaheim Ducks

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $765,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $3.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Bobby Ryan exploded into the NHL last season, his first full year in the league, where he scored 31 times and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy. With the likelihood of retirement looming for Teemu Selanne, Ryan becomes an even more critical component of Anaheim’s future. $3.5 Million per season might seem pretty rich for a guy who will only have 2.5 years of NHL experience under his belt, but if stretched over 4 or 5 years, could look like a steal.

Ondrej Pavelec – Atlanta Thrashers

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $850,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $3 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: After watching Pavelac steal the show against the Sens on Halloween (he made 50 saves!), I’m convinced he’ll be Atlanta’s future starting goalie. During the game, CBC’s Garry Galley said that Pavelac was a few years away from becoming a star goalie in the NHL but I think it’ll happen sooner than that. This year looks like his breakthrough season and keeping Pavelac around long-term could help Atlanta keep Kovalchuk in the fold too. The key in resigning Pavelac won’t so much be about money, but rather, giving him the starting goaltender position next season.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks

Value of Toews Contract on September 1st, 2009: $850,000/season
Value of Kane’s Contract on September 1st, 2009: $875,000/season
Value of Keith’s Contract on September 1st, 2009: $1.9 Million/season

Value of All 3’s Contracts on November 1st, 2009: $4.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Chicago have a big problem and the clock is ticking. Three of their best players are RFA’s and they’re all due for big raises next year. Chicago’s best bet is to try and negotiate with all three together to keep the core of their team in tact. Having said that, I think it’s clear that something, rather someone or some people, have to give. Names like Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg come to mind. And if the Hawks are really lucky, they’ll find a team willing to take Brian Campbell, but don’t count on it.

Kyle Quincey – Colorado Avalanche

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $550,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $3 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Quincey broke out last year with L.A. and looked great quarter-backing their powerplay, scoring 38 points. He’s one of the reasons why Colorado are off to such a torrid start too, scoring 8 points and being +4. Comparable salaries are Marek Zidlicky in Minnesota ($3.5 Million) and Joe Corvo ($2.75 Million), though I think Quincey is better defensively than Corvo and Zidlicky.

Josh Harding – Minnesota Wild

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $1.1 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $2.75 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Minnesota are off to a slow start and as usual, it’s their offense that’s letting them down. Well, that and all their injuries. Either way, you have to wonder how long they’re going to hold on to Josh Harding, who happens to be their best trading chip to acquire another forward. I think Harding will get $2.75 Million next season, but it won’t be in Minnesota. Like Pavelac, the most important aspect of the negotiation will be whether Harding’s a starter next year or not.

Marc Staal – New York Rangers

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $765,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $3.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Marc Staal is probably one of the most underrated defensemen in the league, though that may change with his next contract next year, especially since he’s on pace to have a career season. When you watch the Rangers play, Staal is their go-to guy when it comes to shutting down the opponent. The only problem is that New York will be tight against the cap next year, and they’ve got Dan Girardi and Vinny Prospal, among others to resign.

Braydon Coburn – Philadelphia Flyers

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $1.4 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $3 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: I’m still amazed Atlanta traded Coburn for Alexei Zhitnik! Having said that, Philadelphia may have to trade Coburn themselves as they’ve already got $46 Million committed for next year including only 3 defensemen and no starting goalie. Coburn’s easily worth $3 Million a year, especially if that can be stretched out to 4+ years. The only way the Flyers can keep him is by trading one of their forwards – Scott Hartnell is most likely to go but the Flyers would like to move Daniel Briere first.

Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $625,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $3 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: If the NHL goes to the Olympics in 2014 in Russia, I think Letang will be on this team. He seems to get better with every month and he didn’t look out of place last year when Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar went down with big injuries. His 33 points last year, plus the 13 points he scored in the playoffs make him a value part of Pittsburgh’s future. The problem is money, and I can’t see Pittsburgh going much higher than $3 Million a year so I expect Letang to resign in Steeltown for only 2 or 3 years.

Devin Setoguchi – San Jose Sharks

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $765,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $3.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Playing alongside guys like Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton will certainly help you score some goals. Just ask Setoguchi, who scored 31 goals last year for San Jose. He’s in the same boat as Bobby Ryan in terms of experience and goal scoring and I think they’ll wind up with similar-sized contracts. Expect both to point to Phil Kessel’s deal in Toronto as a comparable for dollars and term.

Jonas Gustavsson – Toronto Maple Leafs

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $810,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $2.75 Million/season

Jonas Gustavsson will be an RFA this summer.

Jonas Gustavsson will be an RFA this summer.

Fantana’s Thoughts: The Monster has finally arrived in Toronto, having played well on the team’s road trip this past week. Notably, he scored the Leafs’ only victory of the year against Anaheim. If Gustavsson continues his strong play, it’s very likely he’ll become Toronto’s starting goaltender next season. I’m sure that won’t stop the ‘J.S. Giguere to Toronto’ rumour though.

Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $1.75/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $4.5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Ryan Kesler is the straw that stirs the drink for the Canucks and Vancouver can’t afford to let him go. Dave Nonis will get him resigned, but I hear Kesler doesn’t want to take a ‘hometown discount’. Regardless, it’s hard to place a value on Kesler and consequently, Vancouver have no choice but to pay Kesler market value.

Nicklas Backstrom – Washington Capitals

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $850,000/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $5 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Backstrom is one of the elite playmakers in the NHL and I’d be shocked if Washington didn’t resign him. I’d also be surprised if he didn’t want to stay to play with guys like Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green. Based on Backstrom’s point-per-game average over his 2 season career thus far, I’m expecting Washington to sign him to a long-term deal, somewhere in the 5-8 year neighbourhood.

Alexander Semin – Washington Capitals

Value of Contract on September 1st, 2009: $5 Million/season
Value of Contract on November 1st, 2009: $6 Million/season

Fantana’s Thoughts: Apparently contract negotiations have already begun and they aren’t going very smoothly. There’s still plenty of time to get a deal done, but Semin has a reputation for tough bargaining – he did go and play in Russia rather than reporting to the Caps AHL team during the lockout season and it wouldn’t be a big surprise if he defected to Russia again. I’m sure the KHL will offer him a lot of money. If it comes down to it, I think Washington would keep Backstrom over Semin.

Your Reporter in the Field,

Fantana

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3 comments

  1. Burgundy says:

    Do you really think Marc Staal is worth $3.5M per season? I’m not sure his play this season is on par with that. I was thinking approx $2.5M. Add to that the emergence of Del Zotto and Gilroy and Staal’s value goes down a bit.

  2. Fantana says:

    I’d say Staal’s worth $3.5 Million. He’s still very young and has a big upside. If the Rangers can get him at that price, it would be a good deal, especially if the length of that deal could stretch out to 4 or 5 years.

  3. Burgundy says:

    But I think that’s more of an example of paying for potential, rather than performance. If you are basing the $3.5M estimate on his performance (especially last year and this season so far), I think that number takes a dive.

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