It’s hard to think that nearly two months after the free-agent market opened that there is still a good number of unrestricted free agents left to sign. Even more amazing is that there are some big name restricted free agents still out there.
As September 15th gets closer and closer, it is shocking that these players are yet to sign deals, as they don’t know what the landscape will look like in the new CBA.
You would think that these players would want to sign as long a deal as their team is willing to give them before a possible limit on contract length is imposed.
If they’re smart, these eight restricted free agents will sign before the current CBA ends.
The whole Evander Kane situation is quite perplexing. Why Kane didn’t want to sign a long-term deal with a team that will soon be a consistent playoff contender as soon as possible is beyond me.
The Jets need Kane to re-sign now. A young core is being developed in Winnipeg, and Kane will be one of the biggest parts of it. A contract holdout will only hurt the relationship between player and team, and a franchise like Winnipeg does not need that.
If I were to say which one of these free agents was the most important to re-sign, I would have to say P.K. Subban. If the Montreal Canadiens are to improve at all after last season’s disaster, they will need the offense of Subban.
On a team whose defense isn’t all that intimidating, they need all they can get out of their current crop of blueliners. With Subban out of the picture, it would get even tougher.
Even if you take away his offense, his penchant for getting on the other team’s nerves is also valuable. A deal as long as Carey Price’s new contract would do nicely.
A close second for the most important free agent on this list, Jamie Benn is another young star in waiting.
If a player like Benn was in Toronto, Detroit or any other hockey market, this situation would be a lot more in the news. On a team like the Dallas Stars, he and his contract situation have fallen under the radar.
The team’s second-leading scorer (among players still on the team) from last season, Benn is exactly like Kane in that he is a player that Dallas is building around for a future run at the Stanley Cup.
With the Stars' ownership situation taken care of, re-signing Benn should be no problem.
22-year old John Carlson might never be an elite defenseman in the NHL, but he is definitely set to be above average.
Alongside another youngster in Karl Alzner, Carlson struggled in his sophomore season, failing to match his rookie points output.
That shouldn’t stop the Washington Capitals from signing him to at least a four-year deal to lock him up for the foreseeable future. Developing alongside Alzer will help him develop defensively to go with his already good offense.
A lot gets said about Michael Del Zotto’s inconsistency, but that shouldn't stop the New York Rangers from signing him to a good long contract.
The Rangers have built what almost looks like the perfect team, and Del Zotto is and will be a big part of that in the future.
After improving on his disastrous sophomore season, the money doled out to him will be a little higher than it would have been had he played the same way in 2011-12.
As part of a great young core in New York, the future is bright for Del Zotto.
With the trade of Derek Roy to the Dallas Stars, Tyler Ennis is one of the players that could earn the No. 1 center job in Buffalo.
If he manages to beat out Cody Hodgson for that role, his personal best point total of 65 is at least in jeopardy of being broken.
While he lacks size at 5’9”, he is one of the Sabres' best offensive players and will only get better as his career goes on. The Sabres would be smart to lock him up long-term so as not to invite future offer sheets.
The Colorado Avalanche’s leading scorer from last season is inexplicably the only big piece on that team who hasn’t been re-signed yet.
That being said, Ryan O’Reilly shouldn’t be the leading scorer for any season going forward with Matt Duchene hopefully returning to form next year.
With the Avalanche only willing to give Duchene a contract only two years in length, I would expect they would not want to give O’Reilly much more than that.
The offensively-gifted Cody Franson would love to stay playing for the team that he grew up idolizing deep down.
However, if he continues to be in and out of the lineup as he was last season, he would rather go to a team that will play him regularly.
The Maple Leafs could use both his offense and his 6’5” body on their blueline, so I would suspect that they will eventually come to terms with Franson.