CHICAGO — We all know this has been the summer of big-name RFAs. And not because a lot of them have signed long-term contracts.
There was (hallelujah) an offer sheet when the Montreal Canadiens got one done with Sebastian Aho on July 2. But the five-year deal with an $8.454 million cap hit was happily matched by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Since then it’s been fairly quiet on the news front, though there has been no shortage of rumours and speculation. Watching it all from afar, the New York Islanders‘ Mathew Barzal has been like every other NHL fan — on the edge of his seat waiting to see what happens next, with camps now just a week away.
“It’s fun being on the outside right now. It’s not my contract or my situation,” Barzal told the 31 Thoughts podcast at the NHL/NHLPA player media tour. “But being on the outside seeing so many free agents not signed yet, I think it’s kind of fun. It kind of gives the league a little bit of excitement. Who knows what happens if there are some offer sheets or whatnot. I think that it could get pretty interesting in the next couple weeks, so as a fan personally I think it’s been pretty fun to follow.
“So many rumours out there. What’s going to happen it’s like I don’t think anyone really knows, so we’ll see. It’s going to be an exciting next couple weeks for these guys.”
While we continue to wait on a chunk of this summer’s RFA class, there have been a few 2020 eligibles who signed on the dotted line a year ahead of time. Just this week Clayton Keller re-upped for eight years with the Arizona Coyotes. Andrei Vasilevskiy got done earlier this summer on a monster extension with Tampa Bay.
Barzal, of course, has one year left on his entry-level contract and could be in the same boat as the Mitch Marners, Patrik Laines and Mikko Rantanens of the world next summer.
If it gets that far and Barzal doesn’t sign by July 1, Islanders fans probably won’t find that as fun to watch.
Listen to the full interview in an upcoming episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast