9 Teams Face RFA Issues Going into Camp
September has finally come upon us, meaning we are that much closer to hockey season, and more importantly for the teams, training camp. Many choices are made during this period, mostly on who’s staying and who’s going back down to the minors for the upcoming season, or at least the beginning of it. But for 9 NHL teams in particular, things could get a little tense and anxiety may start to rise, as they have to deal with their restricted free agents before camp begins. New York (John Moore), Minnesota (Nino Niederreiter, Darcy Kuemper), Boston (Torey Krug, Reilly Smith), Dallas (Brendan Dillon, Cody Eakin), St. Louis (Jaden Schwartz), Columbus (Ryan Johansen) Nashville (Ryan Ellis), New Jersey (Eric Gelinas), and Anaheim (Devante Smith-Pelly) all have to deal with this issue.
Albeit most of these players are not eligible for offer sheets, each team still has a mountain to climb with these players. Most of these young guns are coming off of good years, or are anticipated to have good ones in the near future. As the cap goes up and players get bigger contracts, the younger players begin to ask for them too, which becomes a problem for contending team, particularly from this list the Boston Bruins (highlighted in our article from our Bruins writer here.). Here are the cap situations for all the aforementioned teams:
New York: 1.3m cap space
Minnesota: 9m cap space
Boston: -800k cap space
Dallas: 5m cap space
St. Louis: 2m cap space
Columbus: 14m cap space
Nashville: 11m cap space
New Jersey: 4m cap space
Anaheim: 10m cap space
Now, for Anaheim, New Jersey, Nashville, Minnesota should be okay in their current spots. Dallas may be a stretch with two players, but they could get the job done on two bridge deals. New York will have a little trouble shifting around pieces to get Moore under contract, however, and Boston is totally in trouble. Cap wise, St. Louis and Columbus are not bad off, but there’s a bigger storm brewing on that front, and it’s not looking good for either parties in both cases.
The players up in the air for St. Louis and Columbus are Jaden Schwartz and Ryan Johansen respectively, and they pose and interesting task at hand for their current employers. Johansen and Schwartz, both 22, are both equally coming off career years, at 43 points for Johansen and 56 for Schwartz. Both players represent young talent, and the possible cornerstone for offense in the future for their clubs, more specifically Johansen. Jarmo Kekalainen seems intent of keeping Johansen no matter what, but how far does that interest go?
We would match any offer sheet he could possibly sign, if anyone wants to waste their time with that”
-Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen
Rumor has it that both players are way far apart in negotiations with their teams. Schwartz and the Blues recently broke off, and Johansen is reportedly asking for 7 million a year, yes 7 MILLION per YEAR, and he and Columbus have not been talking recently either. (View The Hockey Chat’s take on Johansen here.)
Johansen and Schwartz are great players in their own, but may be over extending at this point in their careers. They will be great players, but it’d be wise to accept bridge deals right now and build upon it for the future, because any negotiation that stretches into camp can be as detrimental to relationships as arbitration.
It should be a very interesting September for these 9 teams, St. Louis and Columbus in particular, to see what they do with their young players and how far they are able to commit to giving them what they want.