10 intriguing RFA negotiations to keep an eye on this offseason
Claus Andersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

While the glitz and glamour of the NHL's free agency period primarily surrounds the unrestricted free agents on July 1, several players with restricted rights should garner considerable attention this summer as well.

Whether the expiration of an entry-level contract or the end of a bridge deal, numerous teams face important decisions on key RFA's. Negotiations can take the entire offseason, bleed into October if a player holds out, or require a third party should discussions reach arbitration, which no one wants.

With that in mind, here are 10 players to keep an eye on this offseason whose next deals will have a significant impact on the future of their respective organizations.

Mark Stone - Senators

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
26 $3.5M 62 (58) Yes

Throughout a truly dismal season in Ottawa, Stone was one of the few bright spots. In typical 2017-18 Senators fashion, however, he only appeared in 58 games because of injury, but made the most of his limited availability with 62 points.

What should the team do?

Stone has developed into one of the NHL's premier two-way forwards and is an asset the Senators need to prioritize, especially considering the cloudy future of captain Erik Karlsson. General manager Pierre Dorion needs to offer Stone, 26, a long-term contract worth at least double what he's made annually on a wildly team-friendly pact over the last three seasons.

William Karlsson - Golden Knights

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
25 $1M 78 (82) Yes

Karlsson's 43-goal outburst was the embodiment of the Golden Knights' miraculous inaugural season and he picked a great time to emerge as a star on Vegas' top line, setting himself up for quite a raise.

What should the team do?

As electric as Karlsson looked in his first opportunity in an increased offensive role, Vegas should be wary of giving him a blank check. Scoring 40-plus goals in today's NHL is no easy feat, but Karlsson shot 23.4 percent - the highest mark in the league. While he's the youngest of the trio, putting Wild Bill in the range of his linemates on a five or six-year deal worth roughly $5 million seems reasonable.

Jacob Trouba - Jets

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
24 $2.8M 24 (55) Yes

Two years after declaring and ultimately rescinding a trade request out of Winnipeg, Trouba is up for another deal. The 24-year-old had multiple injuries throughout the season, but showcased his value night after night in the Jets' top four, averaging over 21 minutes per game in both the regular season and playoffs.

What should the team do?

Firstly, make sure any grievances are in the past and be certain Trouba is committed to Winnipeg going forward. If he is, lock him down to a long-term deal with a hefty pay increase. With Dustin Byfuglien pushing 34, Trouba's role is only going to grow on a team primed to contend for the Stanley Cup for years to come.

Connor Hellebuyck - Jets

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Sv% (GP) Arbitration Eligible
25 $2.25M .924 (67) Yes

Speaking of key contributors to the Jets' success, Hellebuyck erased any doubts about his future as a No. 1 NHL netminder with his best season yet - one that earned him consideration as a Vezina Trophy finalist.

What should the team do?

This is a no-brainer. Salary figures may prove to be a tad contentious but both sides will be looking for a lengthy contract extension.

William Nylander - Maple Leafs

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
22 $894K 61 (82) No

Nylander put forth his second consecutive 61-point season in 2017-18, proving once again to be a key cog in one of the most potent attacks in the NHL. His next contract is one of several tasks for new GM Kyle Dubas, along with potential extensions for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, as well as finding reinforcements to shore up the blue line.

What should the team do?

Dubas and the Leafs would be best served to avoid a bridge deal for Nylander, as signing him to a long-term deal prevents the possibility of him requesting a more lucrative contract a couple years from now should his production increase. The Maple Leafs won't have cap space forever, and keeping Nylander's number down while they can will only help once the crunch hits.

J.T. Miller - Lightning

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
25 $2.75M 58 (82) Yes

After joining the Lightning at the trade deadline, Miller contributed 18 points in 19 games, but saw his production dip in another disappointing playoff exit for Tampa Bay.

What should the team do?

If Miller were unrestricted, he'd surely be one of the bigger names available, but Steve Yzerman faces a difficult decision with the 25-year-old. Tampa has extensions for Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy on the horizon, and won't be able to sink long-term dollars into a player like Miller - as valuable as he may be. Does he accept another short deal to stick around, or could we see a trade?

Matt Dumba - Wild

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
23 $2.55M 50 (82) Yes

Dumba came into his own for the Wild in 2017-18, setting career-highs in average ice-time (23:49), goals (14), and assists (36) upon the expiry of a two-year bridge contract signed in 2016.

What should the team do?

Dumba is one of few young players on the Wild roster, and new GM Paul Fenton should consider unloading some salary to ensure he can offer the 23-year-old a long-term deal.

Darnell Nurse - Oilers

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
23 $863K 26 (82) No

Nurse continues to acclimate himself to the pros and showed promise by appearing in all 82 games, while setting a career-high in points and ice-time.

What should the team do?

The 2018-19 campaign marks the beginning of Connor McDavid's mega-deal, so maneuvering the salary cap effectively is of the utmost importance for Peter Chiarelli and Co. While Nurse is a solid piece on the back end, both parties could probably agree on a bridge deal to give Nurse a chance to cement his status as a foundational piece.

Dylan Larkin - Red Wings

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
21 $925K 63 (82) No

Larkin erased a miserable sophomore slump with a tremendous Year 3 to conclude his entry-level contract, leading the lowly Red Wings with 63 points and proving he's a piece worth prioritizing for Detroit's rebuild.

What should the team do?

Ken Holland has handed out numerous ugly contracts over the last few years, but has a chance to stabilize things with a proper evaluation for his top center. Like Nylander, Detroit is better off avoiding a bridge deal and locking up their star before he demands more.

Tomas Hertl - Sharks

Age Previous Cap Hit 2017-18 Points (GP) Arbitration Eligible
24 $3M 46 (79) Yes

The Sharks' attack felt the effects of losing Joe Thornton for nearly half the season, but Hertl managed to set a new personal best with 22 goals and backed it up with nine points in 10 playoff contests.

What should the team do?

After Evander Kane secured $49 million over seven years on the strength of 26 solid games with the Sharks, Hertl will likely be looking for some long-term security as well. His payout won't be as gainful, but as a key top-six contributor, a four-to-five year deal worth around $4 million annually doesn't seem so bad for either party.

(Photos Courtesy: Getty Images)

Comments
10 intriguing RFA negotiations to keep an eye on this offseason
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox