As we noted in the post about Zach Bogosian signing with the Jets, only two restricted free agents that filed for arbitration remain headed for a hearing — Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello (hearing Wednesday) and Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser (hearing Tuesday).
However, there remains a lengthy list of noteworthy RFAs without arbitration rights that still don’t have a contract for 2013-14 — a list that includes Alex Pietrangelo, Derek Stepan, Adam Henrique, Marcus Johansson, Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, Cody Hodgson, Jared Cowan, Magnus Paajarvi, and Chris Tanev.
It’s no huge surprise that any of the above players remain unsigned. There’s still plenty of time before training camp starts and the real poker game begins.
This past season, Montreal defenseman PK Subban didn’t agree to a new contract with the Canadiens until he’d missed four games of the regular season. Subban went on to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best blue-liner.
The year before, it was Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings that engaged in a prolonged negotiation. The Kings, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup.
That’s not to say every negotiation will end up with the two sides coming to an agreement. The Leafs, for example, could reportedly be forced to trade Franson.
There also remains the possibility of an RFA signing an offer sheet, as Nashville defenseman Shea Weber did last year with the Flyers before the Predators matched.
Granted, offer sheets aren’t typically presented unless there’s a reasonable chance of actually landing the player. And with that in mind, there doesn’t seem to be a prime candidate for one this summer.
But if we had to pick a vulnerable team, it may be the Toronto Maple Leafs, with both Franson and Kadri still unsigned (plus Fraser) and not a ton of cap space with which to work.
The Rangers are another team that’s close to the cap; however, the chances of New York allowing Stepan to get signed away are practically nil.