In the last post, I put together a First All-Star team of unrestricted free agents. Though restricted free agents tend to attract less attention, there could be some intriguing situations. While I broke down the last list of players into forward positions (left wing, center, right wing), this time I’ll just choose three forwards, plus two defensemen and a goalie.
Joe Pavelski, Bobby Ryan and Devin Setoguchi
There’s a big gap between the top forwards and the rest in both the unrestricted (Marleau, Kovalchuk) and restricted free agent forward pools (Pavelski, Ryan). I agree with PHT readers that Bobby Ryan is worth Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry type money, while Pavelski’s situation will be very interesting.
Setoguchi is my guess as the third-best forward, although Wojtek Wolski and Blake Wheeler are also good candidates. I give Setoguchi the nod because he’s younger and therefore might have a “higher ceiling.”
Erik Johnson, Braydon Coburn
I’m not sure how much either of these RFA defensemen will make. Johnson is a No. 1 draft pick ahead of the likes of Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Toews and Jordan Staal but has had some lows (the golf cart incident) to go with a few highs. The Flyers robbed the Atlanta Thrashers blind when they traded for Coburn, but will they be able to afford him this summer? It should be interesting to see how much these two receive, but theirs might be the clearest cases in which restricted free agency hurts a quality player’s earning power.
There’s no doubt that Antti Niemi greatly increased his value by winning the Stanley Cup, but I still think Halak impressed people the most. It’s probably more likely that the Montreal Canadiens will retain him than fellow RFA Carey Price, but you never know if someone might throw a huge offer his way. PHT readers voted for him to make between $5-$5.5 million by a small margin, but we’ll have to wait and see what the Slovakian goalie will make this summer.