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.

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    Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension

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    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres agreed to terms with forward Dylan Cozens on a seven-year extension worth $49.7 million.

    The team announced the contract. Cozens will count $7.1 million against the salary cap through the 2029-30 season.

    Cozens, who turns 22, is the latest core player the Sabres have extended over the past six months. Buffalo signed All-Star forward Tage Thompson for $50 million over seven seasons in August and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.

    Rasmus Dahlin, the top pick in 2020 who’s a Norris Trophy candidate and filled in for Thompson at NHL All-Star weekend, figures to be next for a big contract. He’s signed through next season and can begin talking about an extension this summer.

    Cozens, who was set to be a restricted free agent, has already set career highs with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points – with 30 games left in the season. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens has 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 regular-season NHL games, all with Buffalo.

    The Sabres, led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, are contending to make the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought dating to 2011 is by far the longest in the league.

    Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

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    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

    Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

    These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

    In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

    “Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

    Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

    “He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

    Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

    “I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

    Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

    “I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

    Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

    “I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

    Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

    The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

    One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

    “It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

    Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

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    SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

    Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

    “Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

    The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

    Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

    Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

    Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

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    The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

    The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

    General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

    The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

    Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

    Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

    “I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

    Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

    “Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

    After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.