The restricted free agent market still hasn’t budged much since the beginning of the offseason, but that means Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic hasn’t missed much during his vacation. The insider returned today with a look at several of the biggest names (subscription required) still without contracts and explained that in many situations term is the big sticking point. In particular, LeBrun spoke with Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas who maintains that even though the team hasn’t been able to get a deal done with Mitch Marner, the idea of a trade is still almost unthinkable.
That’s the same sentiment that Dubas gave Bob McKenzie of TSN in their interview, explaining that Marner is still a huge part of the Maple Leafs program and they want him in a Toronto sweater for as long as possible. That’s the same company line that almost every GM has uttered over the last two months, but names like Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Matthew Tkachuk and Brayden Point are now just a few days away from missing the start of training camp.
- One name not mentioned in LeBrun’s piece is Jimmy Schuldt, who continues to negotiate with the Vegas Golden Knights after signing and burning his one-year entry-level deal last season. Schuldt played one game down the stretch for the Golden Knights after finishing his four-year career at St. Cloud State and was expected to challenge for a full-time spot on the Vegas blueline this season. Jesse Granger of The Athletic tweets that nothing has changed in the negotiations of late and that the Vegas front office “believes it can wait Schuldt out to sign him for as cheap as possible.” The Golden Knights have very little cap space remaining even after trading away players like Erik Haula, Colin Miller and Nikita Gusev, obviously leaving them without much flexibility when it comes to Schuldt’s deal.
- Even with all the focus on the RFA market there is still some talent left among the unrestricted free agent names. One of those is Jason Pominville, who according to Eric Engels of Sportsnet has at least had preliminary conversations with the Montreal Canadiens. The 36-year old has likely had some talks with several teams after registering 31 points in 73 games last season for the Buffalo Sabres. Pominville may not be the 70-80 point player he once was, but he can still contribute enough that he should find a landing spot somewhere before the season begins.