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Photo Credit: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Leafs will need to qualify their restricted free agents by October 7th

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.

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.

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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.