When the NHL's annual free-agent market opens on July 1, the attention will be on the big-name players slated to become unrestricted free agents. Fans and pundits will focus on which teams notable players such as Patrick Kane and Ryan O'Reilly might sign with and how much they'll make on their new contracts.

Restricted free-agent stars, however, are less likely to move. Unless they get traded, there are just two other ways they'll change teams. One is signing an offer sheet that their current club won't match. The other is their current team walking away from an arbitration-awarded contract. Those last two scenarios rarely occur in today's NHL.

Almost all restricted free agents sign with their current teams, usually before the free-agency period begins. That doesn't mean they won't get expensive new contracts, though. Previous RFA stars like Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews are among the highest-paid stars in terms of their annual salary-cap hit.

Several rising young NHL stars are poised to cash in as restricted free agents by next summer. Some, such as the Anaheim Ducks' Trevor Zegras, are franchise players due for big raises after completing their entry-level contracts. Others, like the New Jersey Devils' Jesper Bratt, will seek lucrative long-term contracts after completing their current short-term deals.

Zegras and Bratt are among the seven notable restricted free agents we believe are in line for significant raises on their next contracts. Feel free to express your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.


Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils

Overshadowed by teammates (and former No. 1 draft picks) Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt emerged last season as a star in his own right. The 24-year-old Swedish winger is second to Hischier among the club's leading scorers in total points (232 to 230) since their debut seasons in 2017-18.

A gifted playmaker who can skate on either wing, Bratt's breakout performance was his team-leading 73 points last season. Coming off a two-year contract last season with an average annual value of $2.8 million, he and the Devils avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.5 million deal.

Bratt will be eligible again for arbitration next summer and a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. With 27 points in 25 games, he's among their leading scorers and on pace to exceed 80 points. He could seek an eight-year deal between Hischier's $8 million average annual value and Hughes' $7.3 million.


Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens

Joining the Montreal Canadiens fresh out of the NCAA late in 2020-21, Cole Caufield proved himself in the heat of playoff competition with 12 points in 20 postseason games. After managing just one goal and eight points in his first 30 games last season, he thrived under new head coach Martin St. Louis to finish the season with 23 goals and 40 points.