Rabid Habs

The NHL’s Landscape Will Change In The Coming Week

Montreal Canadiens

It’s been two weeks since the Chicago Blackhawks won their 3rd Stanley Cup since 2010 and the NHL is gearing up for an exciting week once again. Not for what is happening on the ice, but rather what is taking place off the ice.

June 24 is reserved for the 2015 NHL Awards presentation, coming to you from the gambling capital of the Wooooooooooooorld, where the league wines and dines its sponsors and presents awards to their best players. The award winners will gracefully congratulate the players who were nominated in the same categories as they were and everyone will surely have a pleasant evening. In my opinion, one could consider this dud of a night as a public relations exercise… pretty much like the All-Star game when you think about it.

While this is taking place, every team will be hustling and bustling in preparation for the “BIG NIGHT” on June 26 (and day on June 27); the 2015 NHL Entry Draft! You see, while everyone is enjoying themselves in Las Vegas on Wednesday, all the teams are focused (or should be at least) and fine tuning their respective strategies for Friday and Saturday in Miami.

As indicated in a prior article from a year ago, all teams come to the event with the hopes of drafting who they believe to be the best players available for their own needs, however it doesn’t always turn out that way. Habs fan surely remember Andrei Kostitsyn. If not, read the above mentioned article so you can shake your head in frustration.

One must recognize however, that the Montreal Canadiens have made some wise selections, providing a solid foundation for the team (also noted in last year’s article).

As a fan of the sport, you have to feel the excitement as this week unfolds. You surely can’t ignore the alleged ongoing trade talk, restricted free agents’ negotiations (Galchenyuk anyone?) and the unfolding of the weekend as selections and trades are made.

Expectations are higher this year as teams will only be able to patch smaller holes via Unrestricted Free Agency that opens on July 1st, have to deal with a salary cap that limits many teams, and a talented pool of Restricted Free Agents looking to capitalize on their talents.

This year’s group of Unrestricted Free Agents, with the likes of Mike Ribeiro, Devan Dubnyk, Mike Green, Martin St.Louis, Antoine Vermette, Matt Cooke, Justin Williams and Paul Martin, will not have the significant impact on a team this off season as the one made by the Boston Bruins when they initially acquired Zdeno Chara in 2006. This year, teams will only be able to make such an impact via trades. What better time to make a high impact trade than at the draft where picks can simply get added to the deal?

This year’s salary cap is now set at 71, 4 million dollars for the upcoming season. This leaves a few teams in a ‘cap jam’ which puts them in a must trade situation. The Chicago Blackhawks quickly come to mind and it is likely that Patrick Sharp or Kris Versteeg have played their last game with that team, unless they decide to part ways with a core player such as Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane. Sharp has been linked to many trade rumours, mainly with the Montreal Canadiens, but also with the Washington Capitals. When a team is trying to shed some salary and wants younger players or prospects in return, what better time to make a trade then at the draft?

Then, there is the matter of the Restricted Free Agents, which are defined as follows:

  • Have at the very least one NHL contract expire
  • Have played a minimum of 80 games in the NHL (forwards or defensemen) or 28 NHL games (goalies) for players who have 3 years of NHL service.
  • Must be less than 27 years old on July 1st of that year
  • Must be without contract for the upcoming season
  • Must receive a qualifying offer by current team before June 25 or the Monday following that year’s draft (June 29 for 2015)

After being ‘qualified’ by their team, a RFA can sign an offer sheet from another team for a salary greater than the qualifying offer. The current team then has 7 days to match the offer or will receive compensation depending on the value and duration of the offer sheet by the new team.

You may be curious as to why I am spending so much time on the RFA? Simply because this year sees the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Galchenyuk, Braden Holtby, Jake Allen, Derek Stepan, Dougie Hamilton, Jonathan Bernier, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgeny Kuztensov, Nazem Kadri and Marc Stone, to name a few, fall in that category. With a talent pool as deep as this, I would wager that some of them should receive an offer sheet if not signed by their current team. In recent years, Ryan O’Reilly, Shea Weber, David Backes and Niklas Hjalmarsson signed offer sheets that were matched by their teams. In case you’re wondering, Dustin Penner is the last player to sign an offer sheet and change teams when he signed a 5 year 21, 5 million from the Anaheim Ducks that the Edmonton Oilers refused to match. That was in 2007.

Although this week will start on a graceful note with the NHL Awards, it is possible that trades, and offers sheets in the coming week changes the mood and the landscape of the NHL for the coming years. Imagine Vladimir Tarasenko in Montreal, Dougie Hamilton in Toronto, or Alex Galchenyuk in Pittsburgh!

Follow Alain on Twitter @AlainFournier72.

One Comment

  1. amit

    June 27, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Ah, no! But yes to Tarasenko joining Galchenyuk in Montreal!