RFA Watch: Six high-profile restricted free agents are still waiting for deals

We’re just three weeks away from the start of NHL training camp and there are still some big restricted free agents that have yet to get new deals locked away with their respective teams. Being a restricted free agent is a strange thing. Their rights still belong to the team you’re with but there’s always the possibility of signing an offer sheet from another team. The catch there being that their current team can match the deal and keep the player or they can allow him to go and take draft pick compensation.

With the number of high-profile guys we’ve seen get deals worked out already, it’s strange we haven’t seen any team attempt to poach a RFA away from their current team, but that’s another story. Of the six big name guys left to be signed (Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, Brad Marchand, Kyle Turris, Josh Bailey, and Zach Bogosian) we’ll take a look at what they and their teams are up against as time ticks down until camp.

Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings

No news is not good news for Kings fans here. Drew Doughty and the Kings aren’t making any progress in their negotiations and while there’s no supreme rush to get things done, both sides would like to get a long-ish term deal done. With the amount of money needed for a former Norris Trophy finalist who is just 21 years-old, getting the deal right is important for the Kings. After rumors over a week ago that a deal was done were squashed, both sides continue to wait each other out.

Luke Schenn – Toronto Maple Leafs

Another young defenseman in need of a deal but this one isn’t as contentious as Doughty’s negotiations with L.A. Like Doughty, Luke Schenn is 21 years-old and figures to be a cornerstone player on the Leafs blue line. Schenn is a guy that teams have tried to get from Brian Burke in trade offers the last two years, but he’s hanging on to him. Leafs assistant GM Dave Nonis figures that a deal with Schenn will be done before training camp. As for the money he’ll get, expect it to be a sensible deal.

Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins

After Brad Marchand became a holy terror for all of the Bruins’ opponents in they playoffs, Marchand helped put a lot more money in his pockets this summer. While his regular season was great scoring 21 goals and adding 20 assists, his 11 goals in the playoffs and ability to get under everyone’s skin make him a worthy guy to have on any team. Marchand’s agent says a deal isn’t imminent and you have to think the Bruins brass is busy figuring out if this kind of production is something Marchand can sustain over a long career or if he’s a one-year wonder.

Kyle Turris – Phoenix Coyotes

The Coyotes taking their time with Kyle Turris seems a bit silly. The Coyotes are barely above the salary floor and while Turris has shown flashes of brilliance, he’s struggled under Dave Tippett’s system for the most part. He’s been in the Coyotes organization for a bit and while he’s a guy that was drafted during the Wayne Gretzky regime in Arizona, his lofty talent hasn’t landed him a permanent role on the team. That, ideally, should change this season with the Coyotes having a dearth of offensive skill players. Now that Phoenix has Mikkel Boedker signed up for two more years, Turris’ deal should be coming soon. Then again, we were told it was coming soon back on August 6.

Josh Bailey – New York Islanders

Josh Bailey’s situation is a bit strange with the Islanders as well and is eerily similar to that of Turris’ in Phoenix. Bailey appeared primed to have a breakout season last year and did… For a little while. His production, instead, fluctuated and now he can’t get a deal done with the Isles. Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank points out that Isles owner Charles Wang has a curious protocol that says if an RFA isn’t signed by camp he’s not going to play for them that season and won’t get a deal. The Isles are going to be a good, tough team to play and Bailey is going to be a factor in that. They’ll get something done before camp.

Zach Bogosian – Winnipeg Jets

Zach Bogosian’s deal in Winnipeg is going to be a curious one to see. He’s a guy with a lot of potential still in the NHL but now he’s dealing with new owners, a new GM, and a new location to play hockey in. After being so solid two years ago, he struggled last season but since he’s a defenseman and still very young (he’s 21) he’s still developing his game. The Jets would be wise to keep him locked in for a few more seasons but they’re going to want to be smarter about the money. Bogosian hasn’t broken out big the way Doughty has nor has he made as much of an impact as Schenn, but his future should still be bright.

Some big decisions looming for Colorado in goal

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So, here’s what we know about the Avs’ current netminding situation:

• Veteran goalie coach Francois Allaire was dismissed yesterday, after four years on the job. The 57-year-old is perhaps best remembered in Colorado for his work with Semyon Varlamov in ’13-14, when Varlamov backstopped the Avs to the Central Division title, finishing second in Vezina and fourth in Hart Trophy voting.

• Two names have already been tied to the vacant head coaching gig: Dwayne Roloson (per the Star Tribune) and Finnish goalie guru Jussi Parkilla (per Sportsnet). Roloson, the longtime NHL netminder, spent a few years working as a goalie consultant for the Ducks. Parkilla, 40, has worked in a number of different European leagues, including the KHL and Finland’s SM-liiga.

• Per In Goal Magazine, Roloson’s connection to the Avs gig could be predicated on it being a part-time job. This would be different from Allaire, who worked in a full-time capacity, and may go back to the club’s previous model, when Kirk McLean worked as a “consultant.”

• Last month, BSN Denver reported the Avs had already decided to protect Varlamov over Calvin Pickard for the upcoming expansion draft. But that was before Pickard backstopped Canada to silver at the recently completed World Hockey Championship. Beating out Chad Johnson for the No. 1 gig, Pickard posted a .938 save percentage and 1.49 GAA in the tourney, making 40 saves in the championship game against Sweden.

Pickard, a former second-round pick, carries a $1M cap hit and has shown well in the past, posting a .922 save percentage or better in his freshman and sophomore campaigns. He’s also only 24 years old, and seems like a legitimate candidate for Vegas.

Add it all up, and GM Joe Sakic has much to ponder this summer.

It feels like Sakic’s decision making hinges on Varlamov. The GM has repeatedly said a big reason for Colorado’s awful year was losing the Russian ‘tender to injury, and that improvement will come with Varlamov returning to health, and shouldering the starter’s workload.

That could be risky. Varlamov just turned 29 and has a history of chronic hip and groin problems. He’s also got two years left on a five-year, $29.5 million deal — one that carries a hefty $5.9M average annual cap hit.

Related: ‘There’s going to be a lot of turnover’ in Colorado

It’s ‘reasonable’ to expect Schultz and Hornqvist will play Game 7

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The Pittsburgh Penguins could have a couple of reinforcements for tomorrow’s seventh and deciding game against the Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena.

Pens coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that it would be “reasonable” to expect the returns of defenseman Justin Schultz and forward Patric Hornqvist.

Schultz was injured early in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final and hasn’t played since. But he traveled with the team to Game 6, suggesting he was getting close to a return.

Hornqvist hasn’t played since Game 1, and he didn’t travel to Game 6. Instead, he stayed back in Pittsburgh to rehab, along with fellow injured teammates Chad Ruhwedel and Tom Kuhnhackl.

The Penguins lost last night by a score of 2-1, but they weren’t particularly upset with how they played.

“I thought we played a real good game,” said Sullivan. “I thought we dominated zone time. We had lots of chances. We didn’t score tonight. The puck didn’t go in the net, but if we continue to play the game that way, then I believe we’ll get the result.”

KHL contracts two teams for upcoming campaign

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Last week, KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko said the league’s optimal size was 24 teams.

On Wednesday, he got closer to achieving that goal.

The KHL is officially down from 29 to 27 teams, following today’s announcement that Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Medvescak Zagreb have been contracted.

“We have realized that revising the number of member clubs and optimizing their staffing structure will enable us to solve the problem of spending cuts and also stimulate the labor market,” Chernysheko said last week, per the league website. “At the moment, the highly skilled players are spread too thinly among the clubs.

“It follows that the quality of play will improve, and with it the entertainment value and commercial potential of the League.”

Novokuznetsk, located in Siberia, has been in the KHL since 2008-09. The club has never made the postseason and, last year, had just eight wins in 60 games.

Medvescak was the KHL’s lone Croatian-based club, having come over from the Austrian League in 2013. After making the playoffs in its inaugural campaign, Medvescak struggled in the following three and ran into financial crisis this season. From the IIHF:

Medvescak faced some well-documented financial problems and, after a fire sale of players in the closing weeks of the campaign, suited up just 14 players in its last games.

With the team heavily reliant on sponsorship to provide a sustainable budget, the decision to return to a league closer to home.

It’s unclear what the future has in store for Novokuznetsk, though reports suggest the club could move to the VHL, Russia’s second-tier professional league.

Report: Sabres interested in Pens director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton

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New Sabres GM Jason Botterill has been on the job for less than a month, but with the draft around the corner, he’s got to start filling some holes in his front office.

Botterill, who came over from Pittsburgh, is allowed to bring former Pens colleagues of his over to Buffalo, but only if they’re given promotions by the Sabres (no lateral moves).

According to a report by Chuck Gormley, one person who could move from Pittsburgh to Buffalo is Randy Sexton, who currently serves as the Penguins’ directer of amateur scouting.

Sexton would bring plenty of experience to the Sabres’ front office, as he’s been a general manager with both the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers.

Having someone with that kind of experience could be beneficial for a rookie GM like Botterill, so the move would make a lot of sense from that point of view.

Related:

Botterill has “no problem” with Lehner as No. 1

Botterill to use Pens’ NHL-AHL relationship as model for Sabres