It’s a small thing, but kind of an important thing, and that’s knowing when teams will have to submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents by.
FYI for those wondering: Clubs have until 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 7 to submit Qualifying Offers to their respective RFAs. Which those RFAs can begin signing as of noon ET Oct. 9. Those Qualifying Offers expire at 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 18.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 14, 2020
The Leafs have no shortage of players at restricted free agency (see the list below) and in the past years restricted free agency has been complicated by the arbitration process, and by the fact that teams are required to accept those rewards as long as the fall under the league average salary.
On the plus side for the Leafs and everyone hoping that free agency can be more interesting, the combination of arbitration rights and limited cash flow this year may mean that we see a better crop of younger players will enter free agency this year. Although, obviously not too good, as these players weren’t good enough to be qualified by their teams, so we’re talking affordable depth guys, not Mathew Barzal.
A look at the Leafs hitting restricted free agency
|Player||2019-20 Salary||Arbitration Eligible?||Comments|
|Travis Dermott||$863k||No||Obviously qualifying Dermott is a no brainer, and while it remains to be seen if there is a place for him on the Leafs blueline next season, he is certainly a player the Leafs will retain the rights on.|
|Ilya Mikheyev||$925k||Yes||The arbitration rights for Mikheyev make it a bit more of a challenge, but the arbitration case for Mikheyev getting a big payday is no existent. The Leafs might benefit in going the arbitration route with Mikheyev as it keeps his term under control. He’ll be qualified.|
|Denis Malgin||$750k||Yes||Another player who isn’t going to cost a Leafs a ton if he reaches arbitration, but qualifying him is still up for debate as he might not fit in with the future of the Leafs. He may also be returning to Europe.|
|Freddie Gauthier||$675k||Yes||Much like Malgin there isn’t a risk that Gauthier will be expensive in arbitration, it’s just a matter of if Gauthier is still a fit with the Leafs now that he’s sliding down the depth chart.|
|Evan Rodrigues||$2M||Yes||If the Leafs qualify Rodrigues he will sign that offer. The Leafs should not be spending $2M on him, so if he doesn’t sign for less beforehand he’ll become an unrestricted free agent|
|Jeremy Bracco||$842k||No||He gone.|
|Max Veronneau||$925k||Yes||The Leafs might like this guy and might go through the trouble of qualifying him. They included a conditional sixth in the deal to acquire him, and only got a three game look at him on the Marlies|
In short, what you already knew is still true. Dermott, Mikheyev, and Rodrigues are the key players in restricted free agency for the Leafs, and while Dermott and Mikheyev appear to be locks on getting qualifying offers, Rodrigues is equally a lock on hitting free agency if a deal isn’t had in advance.
While the Leafs might be straight forward, hopefully other teams aren’t. The Oilers are in an interesting situation with Matt Benning, who is pricey for them to qualify and isn’t a player who likely fits into their lineup. He’s an example of a potential target for the Leafs that we’ll start learning about on October 7th.