This NHL off season doesn’t have much going for it with the unrestricted free agent market. That is, unless you really love Devan Dubnyk, but even then there are so many better goalies on the trade market.
Where it’s at this NHL off season is the restricted free agent market. Strangely, RFAs are often overlooked and its assumed their team will retain them. Often times, teams do retain their RFAs since the focus is on UFAs.
This off season looks to be vastly different, and it will improve trades.
Teams looking to stack up on young talent aren’t going to look towards the draft or trade for prospects. Why would they, when 21 year old Dougie Hamilton is available? Or Vladimir Tarasenko? Teams can bring in established, young NHL talent.
Of course, cost is the main reason why teams can’t just have whoever they want, but RFAs make less than a UFA would. Speculation has been that Hamilton will get $7 million per year, but that’s widely circumstantial on if a team would be willing to pay that. His current team, the Boston Bruins, certainly would not.
Some rather young ex-prospects will hit the market this season as Restricted Free Agents, and that includes Brock Nelson, Gustav Nyquist, Mark Stone, Jonathan Huberdeau, Alex Galchenyuk, and Tyler Toffoli.
All of these players have had experience competing as high level NHL players, and some have even seen deep playoff experience. Nyquist has seen the playoffs for two straight seasons. Galchenyuk has been in the Eastern Conference Finals. Toffoli is a Stanley Cup champion.
Stone is a potential rookie of the year candidate after bursting onto the scene with the Ottawa Senators. Hamilton is the best defenseman on the market, period, and Tarasenko had a breakout season with the St. Louis Blues.
Will this prevent teams from making trades all together? Of course not, but it might make a lot more sense to sign a guy for money only instead of dishing out prospects, picks, or even veteran players to get a player of the caliber of these RFAs.
Some of these young players might come at a bargain, and be available to be locked up. Teams can take advantage of teams in cap jail, like the Bruins and Kings, and swoop in to take some of their young and already developed talent.
To have already developed talent might be a lot more valuable than developing a prospect for years to come.
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