Looking at the remaining RFAs around the league in this Sunday Ramblings…
Its that time of year again, when players and organizations battling for better contracts have to choose whether to give in, stand ground, or go through the arbitration process. This is a stressful process for players (who feel underappreciated), organizations (who feel pressured by fans to gets things done), and fantasy owners (who need to know the salary status of their keeper players to properly plan for the upcoming season). Many top names have avoided the process by settling on a contract, forgoing an arbitration hearing, but many big names and prospects remain in limbo. Meanwhile, some players strategize differently and dont file for the arbitrator, giving themselves and their team all summer to work out a deal. Here is an overview of who's requiring attention this offseason:
Brandon Manning (PHI): Finally getting a real NHL shot last year, Manning didn't exactly rack up the points but he was a stable defensive presence and showed positive possession stats. He did however see favorable zone starts, and how he will perform in a less sheltered role may lead to the difference in valuation between player and organization. Fantasy owners shouldn't have him around for points anyways, so should be happy with any one-way contract that keeps him out of the press box.
Mikhail Grigorenko (COL) : Given that he only got a regular role for a fraction of the 2015-16 season after being juggled for most of it, a career-high of 27 points was impressive. Most importantly, he showed the capability to fit in just fine in a talented top-six, and this role on the squad is likely where a contract disparity between the club and the player exists. If he gets a significant raise or good term, this likely indicates that the organization is comfortable with him staying in the top-six on the wing of Duchene or MacKinnon – good news for fantasy owners.
Jordan Schroeder (MIN): Has played about a third of the season for three straight years with declining ice time in each. AHL success hasn't translated to NHL points, so any indication of another chance is the best news owners can hope for.
Frank Corrado (TOR): Possibly the most misused talent of the past few years – teams love the idea of the puck mover and hate the thought of losing him on waivers, but just dont like him quite enough to give him the ice time needed to develop. I anticipate a trade happening before the hearing. If the Leafs keep him, it should indicate a plan to test him out, because they have the option of trading him to other teams that certainly would. He will have something to prove wherever he plays next season, but sn't in a good position to break out where he sits now.
Petter Granberg (NSH): I was surprised to see that he actually got into 27 games for the Predators last season. Not worth a roster spot on fantasy teams, even counting his hits. But I think the team keeps him around as a decent insurance defenceman.
Stefan Noesen (ANH) – Finally broke out in the AHL, will be sticking around to attempt another step. Fans remember how excited they were to land him in the Bobby Ryan trade.
Tobias Rieder (ARI) – An important piece of the Coyotes puzzle. No way they let the high volume shooter go. He's too good of a fit along the talented playmakers in the desert.
Ryan Sproul (DET) – Had so much potential once upon a time, but he still hasn't convinced the patient organization to bring him up. Could be a negotiation point for both sides.
Reid Boucher (NJD) – A useful AHL scorer with potential to stick in the NHL when producing, unless he's demanding a one-way contract I'm not sure why they wouldn't keep him. Fantasy value stays about the same wherever he ends up given his status as an above-average call-up.
Connor Carrick (TOR) – Destroyed the AHL in both the regular season and playoffs for the Marlies. Looked good in the NHL for a handful of games. Toronto's blueline prioritization is a mystery right now though. He is a strong multi-cat producer so keep a close eye on this one.
Josh Leivo (TOR) – Another versatile player absolutely worth keeping around, but will be expecting more NHL time. He brings a different skillset to the table than other Leafs prospects, and can be useful in the NHL without top-six ice time so this doesnt diminish his value.
JC Lipon (WPG) – This could be the year he cracks the Jets. He has too much potential to let him walk. The Jets have a few new talented wingers coming to town soon though which wont help his chances…has anyone heard of these Laine and Connor guys?
As always, thank you for reading and best of luck in your summer drafts!