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RFAs - extend, bridge, walk away or trade rights?

May 21, 2023, 2:57 AM ET [21 Comments]
Jeremy Laura
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Unrestricted Free Agents got some interesting conversation going. This one may be a bit more tricky. The feeling I have and that many of you seem to share is that there isn’t a strong desire to retain many of the UFAs. Let’s talk about RFAs this time.

Reposting this just for quick references: Detroit’s cap friendly page is where the majority of the references will come from today. Detroit’s draft history is also handy to have.

Joe Veleno is first on the list. This is a player that I’ve seen some fairly divisive conversations. Once listed as “possibly the steal of the draft”, JV seemed to have more work to put in than I thought. He put on muscle, then got a little leaner. I love his skating and his energy. There was a play last year I can’t shake. He broke a stick while the opposing team was rushing into their zone, he skated off and got a new stick. Could have been a disaster. He had a career high 9 goals and 11 assists in 81 games. No arbitration and only 23, if the number is right this could be a good time to put the heat on and see if he can up production a bit. I’m not sure I see a downside unless he’s asking for a huge raise.

Matt Luff had 2 goals and 2 assists in 19 games with Detroit. In GR he put up 25 points (8g 17a) in 28 games. To me, this is a waiver/call up player if he stays with the organization. He has arbitration should the player or team opt for that. I’m not sure this is a player that will be here or not.

Gustav Lindstrom hasn’t necessarily made the case that he’s an NHL caliber defenseman. Decent size, right shot, but not the best skater. Unless there’s a team that really wants him, this may be an AHL deal.

Jared McIsaac is a defenseman I had a lot of hope for. Injury after injury seemed to derail him a bit. He’s had two fairly full seasons with GR. 5 goals and 19 assists in 21-22 in 70 games and 3 goals and 19 assists in 61 games last season. This is one where I have to take a step back. As with Veleno, a lot of high hopes with this pick early on. Unless he came to camp and really made an impact, this feels like an AHL defenseman.

I’ve skipped a couple names. Veleno is the biggest name on the list. The “what if” is still there. A lot of you really like this player. Otherwise the list doesn’t feel like one full of urgent action to be taken.

Three straight picks in the second round really have me convinced that a deal is there to be made. There are teams in cap trouble and teams that want to stay as close to the floor as they can. Raises for Seider and Raymond will probably be negotiated (especially Seider). I’m going to look at pending UFAs and clubs in cap trouble. We also need to come to a consensus on what a “step forward” is this next season. Round 1 playoff exit? We’ll talk more about it in the weeks to come.
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