When a player approaches unrestricted free agency, there are many things for him to consider when it comes to where his hockey journey will continue. Market, team strength, coaching staff, and potential linemates are all considered, which sometimes leads to a (small) haircut or a (not as small) overpay in terms of overall salary. When a player is approaching restricted free agency, things are a bit different.
While technically there are options for an RFA to play overseas or chase down an offer sheet to change markets, in practice it’s basically only negotiating with one team. That means many of those factors disappear, and the biggest thing brought up in negotiations is contract comparables.
On Friday, the Boston Bruins signed Charlie McAvoy to a massive eight-year, $76MM contract extension that kicks in after his short-term bridge deal expires next summer. That negotiation had a direct comparable to work from; Zach Werenski, also heading into the final season of his bridge deal, signed a six-year $57.5MM deal earlier this summer. Among the other recent contracts that were likely considered were Cale Makar’s six-year, $54MM extension, Miro Heiskanen’s eight-year, $67.6MM deal, and even Quinn Hughes’ six-year $47.1MM agreement signed just a few weeks ago. The massive deals for Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse, and Dougie Hamilton are all buying out UFA years, so aren’t quite as important when it comes to young defensemen who are still in their RFA seasons.