Where oh where will the RFAs go?
While everyone is talking about the plethora of unrestricted free agents that will all of a sudden be up for grabs, because of the restructured economics in the league, a lot more restricted free agents will not be tendered qualifying offers.
In the past, the qualifying process was merely a formality for all but the least successful players, as teams stand to lose them for nothing by cutting them loose. This summer, however, expect that to change as teams cut dead (and overpaid) weight in order to sign the more appealing players on the free agent market.
A NY Post story from yesterday about the Devils highlights this phenomenon quite well:
Lou Lamoriello kept the Devils intact by tendering all restricted free agents qualifying offers last summer. If the GM hopes to sign Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski or Scott Stevens, don't expect a repeat. . .Tossing some of these players out for nothing — namely Friesen, whom the Devils foolishly gave up Petr Sykora for — will be a tough pill to swallow for a lot of GMs, but a necessary one. Inconsistent players like Friesen and the much-maligned European duo of Hrdina and Kozlov just aren't worth what they used to be.
Likely candidates to be skating somewhere else include Jeff Friesen, due a discounted $2.28 million qualifier, Jan Hrdina ($1.86 million) and Viktor Kozlov ($1.74 million).
Hard to believe considering all three were once considered stalwart offensive prospects (all experienced more success in their early 20s than at this point).