We’re now exactly two weeks from the start of the 2019-20 NHL regular season and eight* restricted free agents are still without contracts. While a few of those names represent depth or role players, five names stand out as potentially disastrous situations. Brayden Point, Mikko Rantanen, Matthew Tkachuk, Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine have all shown superstar ability in their short careers and would be huge talents to leave on the sideline when the season begins. All five forwards scored at least 30 goals last season, with Laine registering the fewest points (50) and Point the most (92).
It’s hard to know exactly when any of them will finally break down the barrier and report to camp at this point. Rantanen and Laine are skating in Switzerland, Tkachuk is with his old OHL team and there have been reports about nearly all of them that things still aren’t close. Just a few days ago Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic tweeted that last offer from the Tampa Bay Lightning to Point was a three-year deal that carried just a $5.7MM average annual value. That would represent a much lower number than someone like Mitch Marner signed for, but Tampa Bay has long maintained the philosophy of low-cost bridge deals for their star players coming out of the entry-level system.
It seems likely then that at least one of these five will miss games at the start of the season. Preseason games have already started without them in training camp and opening night is quickly approaching. But who is the most likely to be without a contract on October 2nd? Cast your vote below and make sure to explain your thoughts in the comment section.
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*There are actually several other RFAs that do not have NHL contracts, but they have already signed elsewhere around the globe to play in other leagues.