July 03, 2019

Pucks On The 'Net: NHL Free Agency

In the blink of an eye the majority of the UFA signing news came and went. With very few notable UFAs remaining, the remaining news for the summer will be the RFA market.

There is potential for the RFA market to take a while to solve, as teams could face no pressure to sign until training camp.

Montreal set the market by attempting to poach Carolina's Sebastian Aho, but that, not surprisingly, failed. Still, it basically sets some goal posts for the remaining young free agents. The total dollars given Aho over the five year term were about as we should have expected. The front loading of the bonuses and unrestricted status for Aho in just five years are bigger concerns to the Hurricanes than the cap hit.

In most cases the threat of offer sheets is negated because teams have salary cap space to match. It's certainly still possible we will see another offer sheet, but it will be likely to be matched.

Among all the UFA signings in the past couple of days, very few contracts seem to be raising eye brows for the money spent. Dare we say some reasoning has been brought into this process? The week long ability to talk to free agents before signing them has really helped keep the crazy, inflationary offers away. But players and agents are also valuing contract structure - such as up front bonuses and buyout proof terms - and no trade/movement clauses and exchanging that for monetary compensation.

 Timo Meier is another such example. His contract is actually backloaded, so his qualifying RFA offer will have to be quite large heading into arbitration one day. Very shrewd.

Outside of the remaining RFAs we can probably expect to have a pretty quiet summer going forward.

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