Could the Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers or the Tampa Bay Lightning scoop up prized NCAA unrestricted free agent and former Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie? The Boston Bruins were interested in Priskie, but as reported here, likely can’t sign him thanks to salary cap restrictions and a crowded right side of the blue line. But it appears the Bruins’ Atlantic Division rivals are in on Priskie.
According to an NHL source with knowledge of the situation, the Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning were serious suitors, but after Priskie became a UFA at 5 p.m. Thursday, “the Lightning are coming in hot!”
Since Priskie is a four-year college graduate and the Washington Capitals, who drafted him in 2016 (6th round, 177th overall), failed to sign him by the deadline, he is now an unrestricted free agent. Priskie notified Washington in April he would not sign with them.
BHN reported Thursday morning, the Bruins and the prized NCAA free agent shared a mutual interest in each other but thanks to cap restrictions and an already crowded right side on their blue line, the Bruins were likely not a fit.
With just $7.2 million of salary-cap space and unsigned restricted free agent defensemen, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, the Bruins wouldn’t be able to afford Priskie once the pair of RFAs are signed. Also, once McAvoy and Carlo are back in the fold, the Bruins will also have Matt Grzelcyk patrolling the right side for their three pairings with Kevan Miller due back from injured reserve by November.
For additional depth, the Bruins also have Steven Kampfer and rookie Urho Vaakanainen.
According to the source, Tampa Bay and Florida like that Priskie is a Pembroke Pines, Florida native, and Tampa specifically loves the young depth he’d bring to their aging blue line. Montreal and Florida are also focused on replenishing their blue lines with younger talent but Tampa, who has the most cap space ($9.3 million) and the best chance at immediate success as they once again enter the season as Stanley Cup favorites, could be the frontrunners.
Priskie had 39 goals and 77 assists in 154 games during his collegiate career and is coming off a senior season in which he had 39 points (17g, 22a). As a freshman, he was a teammate of current Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton on the 2016 Quinnipiac squad which made it to the NCAA championship game but lost to North Dakota.
Below – compliments of Cap Friendly – is a list of the players in Priskie’s position who did not sign with their drafting teams.
The table below captures all the previously drafted college players whose signing rights expire today (Aug 15) at 5:00pm ET.
If these ones do not come to an agreement with their respective clubs on an ELC by today's deadline, they will become UFA and free to sign with any club. pic.twitter.com/6oXbZDrmEl
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 15, 2019