This is the second instalment of a two-part piece in which I’m counting down what I view as the 10 most critical restricted free agent negotiations to watch in the NHL this off-season. In Part 1, I profiled Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars, Tony DeAngelo of the Carolina Hurricanes, Jesper Bratt of the New Jersey Devils, Josh Norris of the Ottawa Senators and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks. Each of these young stars presents their team with a significant challenge: how to make a deal with term and money that will fit into the team’s salary cap structure, all while projecting the player’s future production, taking into account arbitration rights and UFA eligibility and watching the market involving the other RFAs.
Those five players are going to be challenging for their teams, but these next five are going to be downright painful. Here are my top five most critical and impactful RFA negotiations of the summer:
5. Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Calgary Flames
Mangiapane’s stats are identical to Norris’, with 35 goals and 20 assists, so the agent for each player will be watching the other agent’s deal closely. Norris actually accumulated the points in 16 fewer games and is younger, so he probably represents more long-term upside for the Sens than Mangiapane does for the Flames. However, Mangiapane has the advantage of having arbitration rights, and in any long-term deal, more of his years will be UFA-eligible years, for which teams are generally expected to pay a premium. Plus, he will be a UFA after the 2022-23 season, so the Flames won’t want to risk a one-year arbitration award. All things being equal, Mangiapane might be in line for a long-term deal at an AAV slightly higher than Norris’.
But all is not equal and the Flames are in a pickle. As I wrote about several weeks ago, the Flames’ off-season signing to-do list includes two players on this RFA list plus 115-point UFA Johnny Gaudreau. If the Flames are able to sign all three, one or more (and likely all three) will need to take less than their market value to keep the gang together. Plus, Mangiapane is in somewhat the same situation as Bratt, in that Mangiapane had close to 200 NHL games under his belt before his goal scoring exploded this year.