NHL’s RFA Problem

The NHL Has officially entered the hold out era. Something that is fairly common in the NFL and NBA has now made its was to the frozen sheet. Last year William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs famously held out for about half of the season to make sure he got the type of money he wanted. This set a precedent moving into the summer of 2019 were the league is now stuck in what could be described as an epidemic.

We are roughly a month away from training camp and elleven of the NHL’s future stars are not under contract with their teams. The list is quite staggering.

Mitch Marner – Toronoto

Mikko Rantanen – Colorado

Brayden Point – Tampa Bay

Patrick Laine – Winnipeg

Matthew Tkachuck – Calgary

Brock Boeser – Vancouver

Kyle Connor – Winnipeg

Travis Konecny – Philadelphia

Charlie McAvoy – Boston

Zach Werenski – Colombus

This list of name should read as an All Star Roster to you. Every one of these players is considered a core player for their respective clubs. So as training camp approaches this should worrisome to you as a fan. So lets put on our tin foil hats and see what could be keeping these guys from getting under contract.

The first thing is the price tag. Anyone one of these guys has the right to become the highest paid player on their team. All are proven producers and would be a number one guy on any team in the NHL. Part of the problem is how do you turn to their equally productive counterparts and explain why they get more money. 

For example, Nathan Mackinnon makes something like six million dollars a year. Last year he should have won the MVP, and damn near single handedly dragged the Avalanche to the Conference Finals. So how in the hell is it justified for Mikko Rantanen make double what Mackinnon makes?

Another issue restricting these players in particular Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg is the cap. The cap didn’t go up. It was going to but it didn’t. The salary cap has done a lot to help these teams create parody in the league. However, because of the cap the teams are being punished for drafting well. Teams are losing these top end talents that they helped cultivate because they simply are not allowed to pay them what the market is set to. So now these cap strapped teams can’t even attempt to sign these players for what they are worth. Let alone the inflated market that has been set.

Finally role on the team could play a major part in the decisions of guys like Tkachuck and Connor. Guys who have proven to be as consistent and valuable as their All Star counterparts. Sure Laine and Gaudreau are better and probably will be better for the long hall. However last season Connor and Tkachuck were bigger cogs in the playoffs. So why would you not pay those guys the same? After last season, how can the Jets possibly justify overpaying Laine and not paying Connor? Tkachuck’s story is a little different, but not by much. When Gaudreau was invisible in the playoffs it was Tkachuck who stepped up and drove production for the Flames. 

It is very possible at this point we could see some of these superstars switching teams or holding out. In the past teams guys like Crosby, Toews, Doughty, and Bugeron have stayed with the team that drafted them. Largely with no disputes over money or contract. However as the clock continues to tick down towards the regular season it is becoming more and more likely that this season will be littered with contract disputes. What will the future hold for the NHL’s youngest and brightest stars. Will these teams be able to maneuver around the barriers or will we see Mitch Marner in a Florida Panthers jersey?

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