We are less than a month away from the start of the World Cup and training camps. However, there are still 15 restricted free agents remaining, and many of them are not who you would expect to be unsigned at this point. Two NHL teams’ leading scorers, four top-four defensemen, and several other high quality players are still looking for new deals.
Let’s continue our break down of the remaining RFAs by taking a look at the Central Division:
Dallas Stars – $7.98MM in cap space, according to Cap Friendly – The Stars have yet to re-sign their first round pick from 2013, Valeri Nichushkin. As we reported yesterday, the Stars and Nichushkin are continuing to talk. A trip to the KHL was speculated earlier in the off-season after Nichushkin said he would “perhaps consider” leaving the NHL because he felt head coach Lindy Ruff didn’t trust him to play big minutes. Nichushkin scored 34 points in his rookie year, 2013-14, but has only posted 30 points in the two seasons since, having missed all but eight games of his sophomore season.
Winnipeg Jets – $9.37MM in cap space, according to Cap Friendly – The right-handed defenseman is one of the hottest commodities in the NHL these days, so the Winnipeg Jets have quite a nice problem on their hands. Jacob Trouba is a big, mobile, two-way defenseman who is right handed and should be making huge steps forward in the coming seasons. However, he’s blocked from playing big minutes by other big right-handed defensemen Dustin Byflugien and Tyler Myers. Trouba can play the left side, but performs better on his natural right side. According to Gary Lawless of TSN, Trouba feels he should be playing bigger minutes, and negotiations aren’t going well – the two sides are apart on “everything”. Despite all that, Lawless said a trade was unlikely; no team is likely to want to pay the asking price to acquire Trouba after a down season. Trouba will be playing for Team North America in the next month’s World Cup of Hockey, so like Johnny Gaudreau, expect both sides to try get this resolved before then.
Nashville Predators – $5.41MM in cap space, according to Cap Friendly – The Predators NHL roster appears to be set, but they still have one last minor league signing to go; Stefan Elliott is without a contract. The Predators acquired him from Arizona as part of a bizarre three-way trade that sent Pacific Division All Star Captain John Scott to Montreal. Elliott played 21 games in the big leagues last year, but figures to be a solid AHLer who can step in to the NHL if injuries arise.