Why restricted free agents don't see much action

marcstaal.jpgSo you’re a bit disheartened that things have slowed down on Day 2 of the free agency frenzy and you’re still wondering when Ilya Kovalchuk is going to either come to his senses or run away and hide with a huge contract. That’s understandable, but what gives with the lack of action for all of those restricted free agents (otherwise known as Group II free agents, full list found here) from teams that aren’t their own? Oh sure, we remember past offer sheets for Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner drawing the ire of Darcy Regier and Brian Burke alike (and earning Kevin Lowe an instant enemy in Burke), but those were different, more spend-crazy times.

Now? The price for offering up an offer sheet to a player and having the team holding his rights giving that player away are steeper than you might understand, and not just from the standpoint of creating an instant front office enemy either. Say you’re interested in Bobby Ryan in Anaheim and want to fulfill his wishes for a short-term, big money deal. Or say you’re interested in the Rangers’ Marc Staal or the Wild’s Josh Harding, what will that cost your team should they end up signing with them? Depending on the salary, it could turn out to be really pricey.

OFFER                                         COMPENSATION

$1,020,348 or below                       None
Over $1,020,348 to $1,545,981        Third-round choice
Over $1,545,981 to $3,091,963        Second-round choice
Over $3,091,963 to $4,637,944        First-round and third-round choice
Over $4,637,944 to $6,183,925        First-round, second-round and third-round choice
Over $6,183,925 to $7,729,907        Two first-round choices, one second- and one third-round choice
Over $7,729,907                             Four first-round choices

If you’re looking for reasons why it’s harder for teams to justify going after restricted free agents, look no further than those compensation points. If a player only commands little in salary, you can likely find unrestricted players at similar salaries and don’t need to risk giving up the picks, or the compensation is so much that going after them may not be worth the risk at all.

Most restricted free agents available aren’t going to command a price of over $7.7 million dollars, so coughing up an astounding four first-round picks won’t be necessary. But what about the $5 million a year that Bobby Ryan wants? Would you want your team to give up a first, second and third-round pick to get him? That’s a tough call, one that requires you to believe that strongly in a player to pull the trigger on such a deal.

One fun part of that is that a team that doesn’t have their own picks to give as compensation cannot make an offer for a restricted free agent if they don’t have the picks to give up. That means a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs is immediately shut out from offering a RFA anything over $3,091,963 as the Bruins own their first round pick in 2011. A team can always get their picks back if they traded them away, but good luck making that work out for you.

Are there prime players out there worth taking a shot at? Definitely. Ryan and Staal are probably two of the most attractive players to shoot for, but is it worth the potentially bad PR and ugly media fight to get it done? A lot of teams won’t want to deal with the hassle, leaving it to be a somewhat unwritten rule, a “code” if you will, that you don’t vulture in on another team’s property. That said, if I was a GM with a highly-touted RFA to deal with, I’d keep my eye on that wily Kevin Lowe though… He seems to have a bit of a history for this thing.

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    After two years in Switzerland, Tom Pyatt signs with Sens

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 22:  Tom Pyatt #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Simon Despres #47 of the Pittsburgh Penguins battle for a loose puck during the game at Consol Energy Center on March 22, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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    Tom Pyatt is back in the NHL.

    Or, at least, back with an NHL organization.

    After spending the last two seasons with Swiss club Geneve Servette, the 29-year-old forward has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

    “We’re very pleased that Tom has committed to our organization for next season,” said GM Pierre Dorion in a release. “He has already accumulated a significant amount of experience at both the American and National Hockey League levels and provides us with solid depth at forward. Having spent his last two seasons playing professionally in Switzerland, members of our coaching staff are familiar with his versatility. We’re looking forward to seeing him in training camp.”

    The Sens, of course, just hired a head coach in Guy Boucher who’s spent the last few years in Switzerland. (Also, an assistant coach.)

    Pyatt’s deal is worth $800,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL.

    Before leaving for Switzerland in August of 2014, Pyatt played 245 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 27 goals and 27 assists.

    Report: Star Swedish goalie Lassinantti garnering NHL interest

    LULEA, SWEDEN - FEBRUARY 03: Max Gortz of Frolunda Gothenburg looks to score past Joel Lassinantti of Lulea Hockey during the Champions Hockey League Final match between Lulea Hockey and Frolunda Gothenburg at Coop Norrbotten Arena on February 3, 2015 in Lulea, Sweden.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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    Joel Lassinantti, the 23-year-old that captured the 2014-15 SHL Goalie of the Year, is reportedly on the radar of some NHL teams.

    Per Swedish nets outlet NSD, Lassinantti’s agent confirmed there is interest in his client, who’s coming off a solid ’15-16 campaign with Lulea. He went 22-11-0 with a 1.95 GAA and .921 save percentage.

    If he signs in North America, Lassinantti will definitely be one to watch.

    Why? Well, he’d be majorly bucking the current trend of skyscraper goalies. He’s listed at just 5-foot-9, but hat diminutive frame hasn’t kept him from excelling at nearly every stage.

    Prior to his success with Lulea, Lassinantti captured silver with Sweden’s entry at the 2013 World Juniors. At that tourney, he split time with Oilers prospect Niklas Lundstrom, finishing with a .915 save percentage and 2.42 GAA.

    And as mentioned above, he captured last season’s Honken Trophy as Sweden’s top goalie — which is a real feather in his cap.

    The winner prior to Lassinantti, Linus Ullmark, is coming off a pretty solid campaign in Buffalo and this year’s winner, Lars Johansson, just signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.

    On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

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    The St. Louis Blues are going back to the guy who got them this far.

    Brian Elliott will start in goal tomorrow in San Jose.

    Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock made the announcement Tuesday, the day after Jake Allen allowed four goals on just 25 shots in a 6-3 loss that put St. Louis on the brink of elimination.

    Allen also started Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. The Blues won that contest, 6-3, with Allen stopping 31 of 34 shots.

    But those were the only two games that Allen has started this postseason. That’s because Elliott had been mostly excellent before getting yanked in Game 3. His save percentage in these playoffs is .925, compared to Allen’s .897.

    Hitchcock said he hopes the break has allowed Elliott to “reset” after the “mental drain” of starting the first 17 games of the playoff.

    “We needed the jolt from Jake, we got it to get back into the series,” Hitchcock told reporters, per the Post-Dispatch. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win yesterday but this has been Brian’s playoffs and we’d like him to finish the job.”

    Related: A ‘no-brainer’ — Elliott will start Game 7 for Blues

    B’s re-sign Kevan Miller: four years, $10 million

    Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller (86) is upended as he chases the puck against Florida Panthers left wing Jiri Hudler (24) in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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    Kevan Miller has cashed in on a career year.

    And a fortuitous confluence of circumstances.

    Miller, who posted personal highs in games played (71), goals (five) and points (18) last season, has scored a four-year, $10 million extension from the Bruins, per TSN.

    That works out to a $2.5M average annual cap hit through 2020.

    Miller, 28, scored the payday after taking a while to establish himself at the NHL level. Undrafted out of Vermont, he spent considerable time with AHL Providence before becoming a regular in Boston last season.

    Despite those aforementioned career highs, it was an erratic season for Miller.

    Often playing alongside Zdeno Chara on Boston’s top defensive pair, he was criticized for making mistakes in his own zone and struggled with consistency, something he lamented at the end of the year.

    “I think it was frustrating,” Miller said, per the Boston Herald. “I wanted to be more consistent throughout the season.

    “There were some ups and downs coming back off surgery last season and this year I was trying to find my feet initially, and toward the end I started to play pretty well.”

    In Miller’s defense, he was miscast as a top-pairing blueliner — duly noted by CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty, who wrote the following:

    Miller is a perfectly fine and rugged bottom-pairing defenseman that brings toughness, and can survive well enough against other team’s bottom two forward lines.

    But he has struggled all season when charged with stopping the other team’s best offensive players, and it has really started coming to a head over the last month.

    As such, today’s extension may have caught some by surprise — like those at the Boston Globe, who wondered if Miller was “destined” for free agency, suggesting he “will draw interest” on the open market.

    But others might not be all that shocked.

    Miller plays on a Boston defense that’s been thinned over the last two years — by the Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton trades, specifically — and doesn’t have many capable replacements at the ready.

    Miller’s not great, but he had leverage. He knew it, his agent knew it and, based on the term and the price tag, the Bruins knew it too.

    Related: Kevan Miller is not the problem for the Bruins, but he does illustrate the problem