The squeeze is on for the unrestricted free agents still without contracts. Today, Liam O’Brien accepted an AHL contract from the Colorado Eagles for the upcoming season, after reaching Group VI unrestricted free agency this fall.
The 26-year-old was not re-signed by the Washington Capitals and will now be playing under a minor league contract for the first time. O’Brien first signed with the Capitals in 2014 after going undrafted and has been under an NHL deal in each of the last six years. Though mostly limited to minor league play, he did get into 17 NHL contests with the Capitals over the years, recording two points.
While O’Brien hasn’t played for the Capitals in several years and was unlikely to this season even if he did re-sign with the team, the fact that he had to accept an AHL deal shows how reluctant teams are this offseason. There are dozens of players just like him that could be staring at AHL-only deals as NHL teams try to trim the financial burden any way they can.