In terms of the NHL Trade market and unrestricted free agent signings, it remains quiet but thanks to injuries, we may also see the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets sign some key unrestricted free agents.
The restricted free agent market has been more active. Some players like New York Rangers forwards Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux, Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz as well as Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar avoided arbitration with their respective teams. Other RFA’s like Detroit Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha re-upped long-term. That appears to be the trend for now as an array of cap-strapped teams continue to just take care of their own young talent and wait for the UFA and NHL Trade markets to open up.
“I honestly don’t see that happening until we at least have a tentative start date for the season and teams know the potential calendar they’re dealing with to sort things out,” an NHL executive told Off The Record recently.
Another NHL source with direct knowledge of the planning for the 2021 season believes the players aren’t going to agree to anything before January 15.
“I think it’s February. I don’t think any player is going to vote to do training camp over the [Christmas and New Year] holidays. It might be January 15, but I think it’s more likely somewhere [in early] February.”
Until then, there’s still going to be plenty of chatter amongst NHL league and team executives, scouts, coaches, players, and agents. This is where you can find out what the chatter’s all about. Welcome to another edition of National Hockey Now’s ‘Off The Record’!