More Restricted Free Agent Forwards
This weekend, we look at some intriguing RFA forwards who could command some considerable dollars. That may come sooner or later. Either way, with scoring up, a select number of forwards could see a nice pay raise.
Let us take a look at more forwards potentially raising their income bracket come 2023.
Troy Terry – Anaheim Ducks
Waiting is the hardest part. Unfortunately for Pat Verbeek, Trevor Zegras is not the only high-profile RFA the General Manager has to worry about. Troy Terry proving last season was no fluke is music to him and his agent’s ears. The Anaheim pocketbooks are about to get lighter still.
Terry has 12 goals and 28 points in 32 games for Anaheim. This is, in spite of, an offense that is putrid. Even that may be kind. Terry and Zegras carry this team on an almost nightly basis. The defense ranks as an expansion team bad. At least, these forwards make the team watchable.
Terry projected at around $5.5 million is looking less and less likely by the second. Pat Verbeek decided to not negotiate until the end of the season. Kurt Overhardt hopes that his phone rings soon enough. The agent knows his client holds the leverage. Verbeek now knows his stance is going to cost him with both of his forwards. Now, the question is how much?
Matt Boldy – Minnesota Wild
Again, NHL Restricted Free Agents such as Matt Boldy arguably fall into a different class. Unlike Anaheim where players can just pile up offensive numbers, Minnesota needs their forward to be a bit more defensively responsible. Combine that with some deployment issues and Boldy is not producing quite as prolifically as Zegras or Terry.
However, do not let that fool you. Boldy shows flashes of that potential from time to time and is up to 22 points on the season. He has four points in his last four games and is playing around 18 minutes per night. That means the forward sees time in almost every situation. He averages almost three shots a game and generates several scoring chances a contest.
Boldy is trending upward, needless to say and Bill Guerin knows it. Between the run last season and this season, the soon-to-be 22-year-old forward is only getting better. Honestly, $3.5 million AAV on a bridge deal is appearing to be more and more of a bargain. Every day that goes by is more dollars that will go into Boldy’s bank account.
A more expensive bridge deal looks likely given the Wild’s tenuous cap situation. There is a holding pattern right now. Expect that to continue until after the season.
Dylan Cozens – Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres’ forward presents an interesting case here. Buffalo and its management showed a pattern of locking up its core pieces. Dylan Cozens playing in the last year of his entry-level deal appears content to just wait on a new deal. Preliminary discussions yielded little of substance.
Cozens is averaging more than a point per game. He plays on one of the hottest top-six units in the NHL. Buffalo plays the game far from dull. That $2.5 to $3 million projected AAV keeps getting bumped up with every point. The pivot plays the game like a man above his years.
He is not even 22 yet. Playing with the likes of Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson raises his game to new heights. Can Cozens keep this up? All signs seem to indicate that this is a possibility. Buffalo’s center of attention will only get better from here. How much does management pay? The price rises from this point forward.
Alexis Lafreniere – New York Rangers
Now, with the kids in New York, there is one adage. Let’s get dangerous! Alexis Lafreniere needed a chance to show he can succeed. Maybe now is that time. The Rangers’ forward has five goals and 14 points in 32 games. The 2020 overall top-draft pick shows flashes as the kid line gets more and more ice time.
The Quebec native has four points in his previous six games. Needless to say, Lafreniere showed a stronger second half last season. Expect more of the same in 2023.
Expect New York’s Chris Drury and Lafreniere’s agent to come to some sort of bridge agreement. The forward should bet on himself as the offense will come.
Stay tuned after the Christmas roster freeze for a look at some intriguing RFA defensemen.