Good morning Toronto Maple Leafs fans!
I was doing some research on our opposition this season and you know what I found? There are still top players who haven’t signed new contracts?
I don’t know what to make of this, because the Maple Leafs have signed all of their players before the preseason games begin this week. I’m no NHL general manager, I only play one in NHL 20, but I must say that it would make the most sense to have your contracts settled before the exhibition games begin. This is a vital time in a team’s development; lines gel, players shake off rust, and to miss this preparation for the season is preposterous.
Below are the outstanding restricted free agents in the NHL and the lazy teams who couldn’t be bothered to sign them.
This is great. The Jets* have two players unsigned, and it couldn’t happen to a better team. First it’s Kyle Connor who hasn’t signed. Connor scored 66 points last season, third on the team overall and was second in goals. This doesn’t seem like the type of player you would want unsigned on the day of your first preseason game.
I’m going to be honest, this is the first time I’m hearing about Kyle Connor. Two reasons come up - first is he plays for the Jets* and why would I know who plays for that oddly named team, and second is because of the other RFA in Winnipeg: Booby prize in the Auston Matthews draft: Patrik Laine.
Laine was the number two pick in the 2016 draft, and is also unsigned. You would think the team would want a player who scored 184 points for them back on the roster but no, they’re fine with him going off and skating with a Swiss league team. That’s right, he’s not pretending to do so, he’s actually in Switzerland.
What is your problem Winnipeg? You have $15,000,000 in cap space! That’s 1.25 Mitchell Marners! Now maybe the players are on their way to Winnipeg to sign, but it’s taking a while to drive into town from the airport in Thunder Bay.
The Flames have Matthew Tkachuk, Mitch Marner’s buddy from the 2015-16 London Knights, to deal with right now and things are moving at a snail’s pace. Tkachuk has scored 71 goals and 174 points for the Flames over the past three seasons and Tkachuky wants his money. The problem is the Flames have just $6.3 million in cap space available. That’s just over half a Mitch Marner and I can’t believe how poorly the Flames prepared for this day.
On the plus side Flames fans, you have Milan Lucic signed at $5.25 million for another four years!
Can you believe it’s all of these Canadian teams who are refusing to ice good players? The Canucks went out and signed Tyler Myers for $6 million a year this summer and left only $4 million for Brock Boeser! (That’s about a third of a Mitch Marner if you’re keeping track) Boeser has scored 50+ points the past two seasons and is a bright spot in the Vancouver Canucks future! Instead of signing him the gave Alex Edler another two year contract worth $6 million per year.
Then they extended Jim Benning for three years too! Good luck, Canucks fans.
This is another team with $15 million in cap space but who refuses to sign their big RFA. Mikko Rantanen is still in Finland and the Avs are letting their camp go on without him. It must be the thin air up there that makes them think they can just toodle along without an 87 point player in their line up. Only criminally underpaid Nathan MacKinnon scored more than he did. It’s a bold move for the Avalanche to just let their Mitch Marner sit there unpaid, but hey, not all teams want a full line up I guess.
Travis Konecny was drafted 20 spots behind Mitch Marner in 2015 and I was very excited to see the Maple Leafs draft him - then they dropped down to the second round to pick Travis Dermott. The move worked out all right for both teams, but now the Flyers have a first line player unsigned and $6 million in cap space to do so. If there’s room for half a Marner in there, there’s room for Konecny.
Philly may be the city of brotherly love, but there’s no love between management and Konecny right now, that’s for sure.
Tampa Bay Lightning
I’ve saved the best for last. Brayden Point is a centre who scored 92 points for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. This may normally be a big deal, but he was only the third highest scoring player on the team. A player of Point’s calibre should be paid big bucks and the Lightning do pay their top players well: Steven Stamkos makes $8.5 million, Nikita Kucherov makes $9.5, and Victor Hedman makes $7.8 million. You would think the Lightning would treat Point like any of their other top players, but nope. According to Pierre LeBrun the Lightning’s last offer to point was...$5.7 million.
The Lightning are known to try and severely underpay their players on second contracts, they had Kucherov for just $4.7 million the past three years and it appears they’re doing the same with Point. The Bolts have $8.4 million in cap space and you can bet that Point wants as much of that as possible. Hopefully the Lightning learn from this year’s extended negotiation and missed time - they have Mikhail Sergachev to sign next year, and you’d just hate to see them have another set of negotiations go badly.
Here’s some news that isn’t about how badly run the above teams are:
The Maple Leafs made their first cuts in training camp yesterday and there are some odd names there - players who went the distance last year like Semyon Der-Arguchintsev are back to junior in time for their season openers.
Maple Leafs make the first cuts from training camp
Arvind and Fulemin bring you another dreary, pessimistic, overly-negative episode of Back to Excited!
Back to Excited Episode 72: Marner Signs, Training Camp Battles
The Boston Bruins nearly made this list - but they got Charlie McAvoy signed just in time for preseason games.
Boston Bruins Re-sign Charlie McAvoy - Last Word on Hockey
Maple Leafs Hot Stove digs into the Marner deal.
Analysis: Kyle Dubas pays up to go long-term with Mitch Marner deal | Maple Leafs Hotstove
This guy is not an important RFA.
Calgary Flames Sign F Andrew Mangiapane
I’m going to love it. Somehow we’ll get Petro to come home. How? Shut up, that’s how.
Whether we like it or not, Pietrangelo and Schenn’s contracts will be a distraction
Now, to end things on a good note, here’s a recap of the weekend in St. John’s.
Howie Meeker, the oldest living member of @LeafsAlumni at 95 years young, stopped by to give the boys a pep talk during tonight’s Alumni game in St. John’s.#LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/kdMERCXpBW— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 15, 2019
It wouldn’t be a proper St. John’s party without Bob Cole!— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 15, 2019
A standing ovation to kick off tonight’s @LeafsAlumni game. pic.twitter.com/6Ns5il49Hq
Legends.@CarltonTheBear @Buddy_ThePuffin pic.twitter.com/faj7VpTKpj— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 15, 2019
Welcome to the Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers, b’ys! pic.twitter.com/5ixMMwCJ8U— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 14, 2019
Ahoy, captain! pic.twitter.com/I5SZsykM3j— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 13, 2019