This summers crop of RFA’s is star-studded. Which player is most likely to have a Nylander-esque holdout?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Brayden Point, Matt Tkachuk, Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Jake Guentzel, and Kasperi Kapanen are all RFA’s who are on teams that could be tight to the cap when all is said and done. But I’m going to give two names who I think could potentially hold out next season.
First is Mitch Marner. Auston Matthews is going to be priority number one for Kyle Dubas, which could push Marner’s signing date back a little. We know that Dubas isn’t afraid to wait until literally the final hour to get a deal done and I get the sense that Marner won’t be in the mood to take a discount if neither Nylander or Matthews did.
Kyle Connor is in a similar spot to Marner. He is a fantastic young player on a team that has both tremendous offensive talent and salary cap troubles. Patrik Laine is also an RFA, so Connor is no doubt priority number two for the Jets.
IAN SHEPPARD: Sorry Leafs fans. You’re destined for another lengthy holdout. Auston Matthews will be an RFA at the end of the 2018-19 season and for me, it won’t be automatic that the deal gets done right away. Taking Connor McDavid’s deal from a few years ago into consideration, Matthews will want something similar if not more with inflation and the idea that McDavid signed for slightly less than he could have.
Matthews seems like a player with a strong business sense who won’t for less than what he thinks he deserves and given the Nylander and Tavares deals along with Mitch Marner also coming up on the end of his ELC, getting Matthews locked up could be a long process.
WYATT ZIEGER: The Lightning are a team that would really benefit from the cap going up the extra 4 million as its expected too. Especially if they have a hope in hell of re-signing Brayden Point.
We are pretty much at the 1/3 mark of the season. Who is your Stanley Cup favourite?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: There’s a list of teams I really like this season. The Preds and Jets look good out West while the Leafs and Capitals both look unstoppable at times. I wanted to find a sexier pick, but I gotta go with Tampa Bay. Every year the “experts” call them the Stanley Cup favourite and every year they seem to lose out, but this year seems different. Their roster is loaded, they have some fresh young talent making an impact, and I like to think that they’ve learned their lesson from years past.
IAN SHEPPARD: The Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are currently leading the league with 43 points and have two players in the top-10 in points. They lead the league in goals and have a roster stacked with talent, with a top-6 lineup that can produce points consistently and a defensive unit that is loaded with all-star talent.
They are without a former Vezina-Candidate in Andrei Vasilevskiy in net who is out with a broken foot, but they have been able to survive thus far while they await his return. Tampa has been on the verge of a Cup the last 5 years or so and for me right now this could be their year.
WYATT ZIEGER: Pave the way for Smashville baby.
With Seattle officially coming into the NHL, which city would you most like to see get an NHL franchise (via relocation)?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I really want to say Quebec City, but it just isn’t realistic until the dollar figures itself out. That’s unfortunate because I think the league would really benefit from an eighth Canadian team. The obvious answer to this question is Houston.
Arizona has been on life support for what seems like a decade and now that they’ll be moving to the Central Division when Seattle shows up, the transition from the desert to Houston will be rather seamless. Houston is a good sports city and they have a rather large TV market, which is huge for the NHL and their Board of Governors. It isn’t working in Arizona and if they don’t figure out their arena situation soon, that organization could be H-Town bound.
IAN SHEPPARD: I have to pick a Canadian city. Especially when the next American city to have its name tossed into the hat is Houston and that just doesn’t feel right. With 7 teams in Canada currently, four in the west and three in the east, I think to balance things out, putting a team in Quebec City or potential Hamilton would be the best thing to see for hockey fans up north.
WYATT ZIEGER: I’ll say Houston for a couple of reasons.