Tampa has 5 restricted free agents to sign this offseason along with their loyalty signing Erik Cole.
Of the 5 RFA's, we are very happy that it is the contract year of 2 of them. First off, Travis Zajac had a injury plague, unproductive season in the nhl last season and has a tiny 70 OV ( his smallest OV since we started keeping history or players ratings). With this low OV, we will be able to sign him to the max length contract of 4 years probably for anywhere between 1.2 and 1.8 Million dollars per year. The second of the 2 is Mikkel Boedker who got limitted ice time this past year in pheonix averaging just over 12 minutes a game with little to no power play time. Because of lack of playing time, he only got a 69 OV re-rate which should allow us to sign him for 4 years in the 900K to 1.4 million dollar range. Despite bad seasons by both players, they each had wonderfull playoffs with zajac finally being healthy and boedker finally getting propper ice time to suit his amazing offensive taletns. We are confident that barring injuries, both players could have ratings that could place them in anyones top 6 around the NEFHL and be huge bargains for our club for the final 3 years of their contracts.
Also an RFA is big young defensemen Zach Bogosian. At 6 foot 3 inches, Zach will always have a relatively high OV with strength often inflating the OV a bit. After this past season he was rewarded with a 75 OV rating where he scored 30 points in 65 games. We feel as a team that Zach is only getting better and that his ppg pace is quite appropriate to his skill set and should not drop below that level. With that being said, he also only scored 5 goals and SC also inflates OV and we feel with his shot, pucks are bound to start going in at a higher rate which in the future would get Zach's OV quite higher then the 75 it's at right now. While taking all that into consideration, we feel that it's a low risk and high reward type of situation to sign him to a 4 year contract with where he's at in his career.
We only have 1 goaltender to shore up this offseason and his name is Al Montoya. The former 6th overall pick did not have a great season last year where he was constantly plagued with injuries while also struggling for playing time while healthy with a 3 goalie tandem on long island. He's definitely a wild card at this point, he's 27 years old and only last season got a chance to start and showed that he can play at the level but then back tracked last season. A lot of goalies do start coming into their own at his age which is making me consider offering him a 4 year deal cheap, but unlike Bogosian, he would be more of a high risk, high reward type of long term contract. Best case scnenario is that he signs with a team on July 1st so i'll know what kind of situation he'll be in and will make my decision easier!
The final RFA we need to sign is hardly as interesting. Andres Engqvist is a 26 year old that got his first chance in the nhl last year with the habs and didn't do much offensively at all. He did produce in the AHL however so he may be a late bloomer. Very minore signing that the team will take a chance on but isn't very concerned about
Finally Eric Cole our loyalty signing had a great nhl season and is going to get a huge payday in the nefhl with his 80 OV. We will more then likely sign him to a 3 year contract as he is getting older and feel its safe to expect 2 more years like last years in the nhl. The danger with paying a guy like cole 5+ million for 3 years is that he's so injury prone, however I think is career is rejuvenated in montreal playing with talented youngsters like pacioretty and desharnais and feel that it's an acceptable risk to take!