Restricted free agency has been quite the safety net for NHL clubs and their young stars, who are still in their early contracts. Teams have a lot of extra pull when it comes to Group II free agency, up until the years go by and the games are being played, but otherwise, the ball is really in the original team's court.
Of course, lurking in the shadows of the restricted free agent process is the offer sheets, which have rarely been used in years past, but always lingers as a certain possibility. Compensation for signing a player from an offer sheet is getting to be awfully high, especially having to give up anything like a 1st round draft pick, if not four of them.
$1,020,348 or below None
Over $1,020,348 to $1,545,981 Third-round choice
Over $1,545,981 to $3,091,963 Second-round choice
Over $3,091,963 to $4,637,944 First-round and third-round choice
Over $4,637,944 to $6,183,925 First-round, second-round and third-round choice
Over $6,183,925 to $7,729,907 Two first-round choices, one second- and one third-round choice
Over $7,729,907 Four first-round choices
There were a few RFAs on the list at the beginning of July that would have commanded such a high compensation, Steven Stamkos, for example, would have been near the top of the list, picking up a cap hit of $7.5 million per season with the Lightning and was likely to get something a bit more substantial from another club, trying to lure him away.
Looking at the list below, I think we could agree that there are a couple names still on the list, who will get some pretty big money out of the off-season.
Shea Weber, 25, defense
2011 points: 48 points in 82 games, 136th overall, 10th among defensemen
2011 cap hit: $4.5 million
The Predators' pillar on defense is headed to arbitration on Tuesday, which could be quite the battle of wills, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the situation. It is beginning to sound like the process will finish in a 1-year deal, but the dollar figure could be the real point of contention. In his age range, on defense, scoring 46-to-50 points in a season, Weber could be looking at anywhere between $5.8 million (Seabrook) to $3.5 million (Letang). I would assume that Weber will push for some top end dollars, could even try and fetch as much as $6 million, but arbitration will set him straight.
Blake Comeau, 25, forward
2011 points: 46 points in 77 games, 149th overall, 108th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $650,000
Comeau is another player who is still scheduled to go to arbitration in the off-season, his hearing is scheduled to go on Thursday, the last player on the list to head to arbitration. That means he is free from the threat of an offer sheet from another club, but if he hasn't settled by this point in the Summer, there is a good chance that he will head to the hearing near the end of the week. Now that he is a full time player, I would imagine he should be eligible for a pretty good raise from the club, just not great money right away.
Brad Marchand, 23, forward
2011 points: 41 points in 77 games, 187th overall, 136th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $822,000
Marchand found a good niche with the Boston Bruins in their Cup winning season, becoming a fairly clutch scorer (especially in the playoffs) and quite the agitator, playing against some of the opponent's best players. Marchand is still too young to qualify for arbitration, but with only one good season under his belt, I think it would have been quite the gamble for other teams to put a dollar figure on his potential value, with the possibility that they might pay too much for him in the end. His raise will be good, but it could very well be a short-term deal, for value purposes.
Drew Doughty, 21, defense
2011 points: 40 points in 76 games, 201st overall, 25th among defensemen
2011 cap hit: $3.5 million
Doughty is just coming off of his entry-level deal this Summer, which begs the question, how much is he going to be worth going forward and for how long? It's hard to deny that Doughty has the tools in place to be a top end defenseman, already having a Norris Trophy nod in his back pocket in such a short time. A bit of a down year still had him 25th among defensemen in scoring, but couldn't lift the Kings into the playoffs, which may have hurt his stock in negotiations. I expect the Kings are pushing for a long-term deal with a great bargain of a cap hit, which may not be going over too well from the players' camp.
Josh Bailey, 21, forward
2011 points: 28 points in 70 games, 305th overall, 219th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $1.725 million
A 9th overall draft pick in 2008, Bailey hasn't really found his groove in the NHL as of right now, working hard to get a regular spot with the Islanders, but not finding the best of luck in the process. Bailey was thought to have the potential to be a very good set-up man for the Islanders, but has not shown much in the way of assists. Patience on the Island should be there for him, but it may be a question of how much is actually left.
Kyle Turris, 21, forward
2011 points: 25 points in 65 games, 344th overall, 237th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $2.7 million
The Coyotes knew when they drafted Turris, 3rd overall in 2008, that they would need to be patient to harness his true potential in the NHL. Even now, Turris hasn't quite filled out into a solid size for his NHL career and thus, he has still been spending time refining his game in the AHL. With his entry-level deal now up and a new deal needing to be in place, I couldn't see the Coyotes looking at Turris as a long-term solution, especially dollars-wise, today. I would expect shorter deals, allowing him to earn the bigger money.
Luke Schenn, 21, defense
2011 points: 22 points in 82 games, 387th overall, 78th among defensemen
2011 cap hit: $875,000
One of the good things about Schenn going into his restricted free agent negotiations, is that he plays a shutdown brand of defense on a team than appreciates shutdown defensemen. With 22 points in 2011, Schenn almost exceeded some early expectations and growing into his role with the Leafs will definitely do that for the kid. I fully expect to see Schenn pick up a very solid 4-or-5-year deal out of free agency, with a dollar figure that may not be correlated with his offensive numbers, rather his value to the team as a top-four defensive defenseman.
Zach Bogosian, 21, defense
2011 points: 17 points in 71 games, 448th overall, 95th among defensemen
2011 cap hit: $2.6 million
Taken two spots ahead of Schenn in the 2008 entry draft, Bogosian has plenty more offensive expectations attached to his name as a young player in an entry-level deal. He has certainly shown flashes of some offensive talent, but those flashes may have been stifled a little when the Thrashers acquired Dustin Byfuglien from the Blackhawks last Summer, pushing young Bogosian down the charts a little. I could definitely reason with the Jets, as to how much they should actually be looking to pay Bogosian and for how long, especially with a franchise top-two already in place. Short-term, less money, possible trade bait?
Shawn Matthias, 23, forward
2011 points: 16 points in 51 games, 467th overall, 307th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $795,000
Matthias is now out of his second NHL contract, and is still struggling to find a regular spot with the Florida Panthers. With the Panthers going spending crazy in the off-season, Matthias' worth may have been taken down a notch or two, which will likely hurt the kid's negotiation process. Personally, I can't see Matthias being with the Panthers for too much longer, if he wasn't going to be signed and a part of the initial process of rebuilding, but that's just me.
Mikkel Boedker, 21, forward
2011 points: 14 points in 34 games, 505th overall, 324th among forwards
2011 cap hit: $1.725 million
Boedker is very much in the same position as his teammate above him, Turris, as a player that hasn't necessarily been rushed into the big leagues, but at the same token, should have probably shown a few more flashes of brilliance by this point in his career. Still, patience is still a good commodity in Phoenix, especially with management, but the dollar figures coming out of a new deal will likely show that he'll be paid market value going forward.