Fans look at the Blackhawks’ contract chart and worry about winger Brendan Perlini, who remains a restricted free agent nearly a month after the team’s last offseason transaction.
Perlini looks around the league and sees nothing strange at all.
‘‘It’s just something that happens quite slow for a lot of guys,’’ he said last month at the Blackhawks Convention. ‘‘I’m definitely not sitting by the phone every minute, going: ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’ You’re going to drive yourself nuts.’’
It was an excellent point then, and it still stands now. The NHL has reached a restricted free agent (RFA) impasse, and until one of the major names signs and breaks the dam, nearly every team has a foot stuck in the mud.
The Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner, the Lightning’s Brayden Point and the Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen are the headliners, the franchise players who likely will push $10 million salary-cap hits on their new deals — when they happen. The Maple Leafs already have positioned their salary structure to work even if Marner holds out.
But Marner, Point and Rantanen are just the tip of the iceberg. The Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk and the Jets’ Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor aren’t far below that top tier, and the notable RFAs go on and on beyond that.
In fact, of the top 18 free agents of any type entering the summer (as determined by Evolving Wild’s popular contract projections), 11 remain unsigned, and 10 of those 11 are RFAs. All of them are projected cap hits above $6.5 million.