With the Tampa Bay Lightning preparing for another run to challenge for a Stanley Cup, one of the team’s top players remains unsigned in Brayden Point, who continues to sit out with a number of top restricted free agent forwards, including Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. Several defensemen, including Boston’s Charlie McAvoy and Columbus’ Zach Werenski.
However, there has been no end in sight for any of these players and there remains no timeline as all of these players are waiting for the first one to sign and set the market, according to Tampa Bay Times’ Diana Nearhos. Most expect that the first domino to fall will be Marner with everyone signing contracts just underneath him. However, that could change if one of the others opts to sign first. Point’s deal will be an interesting one on a team that already has quite a few top-paid players, but Point, who tallied 41 goals and 92 points.
“It’s a unique marketplace,” said agent Gerry Johannson, who counts Point among his clients. “Everyone is waiting for some clarity.”
So far only two key restricted free agents have signed, both in peculiar circumstances. Jacob Trouba forced a trade to the New York Rangers before finally signing, while Carolina matched Montreal’s offer sheet to Sebastian Aho in early July. In the meantime, the wait continues.
- With the signing of Colin White, the Ottawa Senators have 10 guaranteed spots on their forward line, according to Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun. That will leave quite a training camp battle for three spots (assuming Ottawa keeps 13 forwards) between some of the team’s top prospects, including Max Veronneau, Rudolfs Balcers, Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, Alex Formenton, Jonathan Davidsson and Nick Paul. On defense, the team has five players already set, leaving two (or three) spots on their defense for prospects, which will include Christian Wolanin, Maxime Lajoie, Erik Brannstrom and Christian Jaros.
- One major question in Buffalo will be what role will forward prospect Victor Olofsson play next season. The 24-year-old prospect had dominant season in his first year in North America last season, tallying 30 goals and 63 points in 66 games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL and scored two goals and four points in six games for the Sabres last season. The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski reports that Oloffsson is likely to start the season with the Sabres and despite the logjam at left wing, he is likely to force either Conor Sheary or Marcus Johansson to the right-wing position as both have some experience playing there. However, Olofsson will likely have to beat out both Tage Thompson and C.J. Smith to earn a spot.