It's not uncommon for teams to wait until the last minute to sign their top RFAs.
It's not ideal for the fanbases who spend the summer waiting for news about their favorite players, but it's the name of the game. Teams are looking to upgrade their rosters around their RFAs, and since they don't need to rush to deals with players they have already signed, they have the luxury of time to wait as long as possible.
This year, there's a fair share of big names still waiting to ink deals. Some of the contract situations have been quite public - Kirill Kaprizov and Brady Tkachuk, to name two - while others have been pretty quiet in the open sphere.
Let's take a look at 10 unsigned RFAs with training camp set to begin next week:
Elias Pettersson, C (Vancouver)
When healthy, Pettersson is such an incredible part of Vancouver's future. The Canucks know that, but Pettersson did miss most of last year. So what if he's not at his old form right away? It wouldn't be shocking to see a three-year bridge deal close to $7-8 million, especially with a deal involving Quinn Hughes and around $16 million in cap room to work with right now. There's no way the Canucks start the year without their star forward, but time is ticking.
Quinn Hughes, D (Vancouver)
Hughes and Colorado's Cale Makar will almost always be linked together. They came into the league at the same time, battled all season in a strong 2020 Calder Trophy battle and are expected to be leaders of their respective teams for a long time coming. Makar signed a six-year deal worth $9-million per season this summer, so what will Hughes - who took a bit of a step back this past season compared to Makar - earn on his next deal? Zach Werenski ($9.58 million) and Miro Heiskanen ($8.45 million) signed similar deals this summer, with Hughes likely falling somewhere between Makar and Heiskanen.
Kirill Kaprizov, LW (Minnesota)
Minnesota finally started to get traction with the arrival of one of the team's top players in franchise history last season. But Kaprizov's side knows that, and as it stands, both parties haven't been able to come to a deal. At 24, Kaprizov - a former KHL star - doesn't have a ton of leverage due to not being eligible for an offer sheet or arbitration, so it's either sign for what the Wild offer him or make a max cash stack back in Russia. With 51 points in 55 games as a rookie, the Wild can't afford to let him go, but can they afford what Kaprizov is worth to them?
Rasmus Dahlin, D (Buffalo)
Very little has gone right for the Sabres over the past decade and there's still a lingering issue in the form of Jack Eichel. For Dahlin, who has had some up and down moments since going No. 1 in 2018, the length of Dahlin's question - bridge or no bridge - seems to be the big question here. A bunch of big-name defenders have cashed in big this season, and perhaps the best bet here is to sign Dahlin long-term at less than he'd command if he had a breakthrough run on a bridge deal.
Brady Tkachuk, LW (Ottawa)
Rumors have been swirling that Tkachuk was offered an eight-year deal worth $8-million per season and it might not be long until the deal finally comes to fruition. As the Senators go from bottom-feeders to, potentially, real playoff contenders in the near future, Tkachuk is a huge piece of the puzzle and is vital in helping the team progress to the next level. Tkachuk hasn't fully showcased his true offensive potential with a career-high 45 points as a rookie but had 2020-21 been a full, proper season, Tkachuk would have likely cracked 50 for the first time in his career. He's a pain in the butt to play against, plays a strong 200-foot game and should have no issue scoring 20 goals for years to come.
Kailer Yamamoto, RW (Edmonton)
Yamamoto made his presence known in a big way in 2019-20, scoring 11 goals and 26 points in 27 games after struggling to previously crack the lineup full time. But last season was a bit of a step back for the small forward, posting just 21 points in 52 games. So, what's next? Based on his play from year to year, don't expect a long-term pact for Yamamoto.
Robert Thomas, C (St. Louis)
Rumors in St. Louis have suggested that Thomas should have a deal come camp opening, and that's a good thing. He's one of the team's top young forwards and the lone RFA still unsigned, but with Vladimir Tarasenko's $7.5-million cap hit still on the books and just over $1.5-million in cap space, it's been a bit tricky. Still, Thomas should factor into the team's long-term plans and t
Logan Brown, C (Ottawa)
Tkachuk isn't the only notable Sens forward without a deal right now. Brown, 23, doesn't have much leverage with just nine points in 30 games over four years, and his future could very much be elsewhere. Rumors have pinned Brown as a trade candidate after only getting him into one NHL game this past season. He holds some value still as a young player with potential, but how good can he actually be?
Nolan Patrick, C (Vegas)
Very few players needed a fresh start like Patrick. After returning to the ice this past season with nine points in 52 games after missing all of 2019-20, the Flyers shipped Patrick out to Nashville, only to get moved to Vegas in a three-team trade. The Knights are tight against the salary cap, and with Patrick's health concerns being an issue, don't expect a long-term deal here.
Zach Senyshyn, RW (Boston)
Considering Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor and Thomas Chabot were the three players chosen directly after Senyshyn during the 2015 draft, the fact that Senyshyn has just three points in 14 games shows that his time in Boston has been a bit of a disaster. Senyshyn won't command much as someone who hasn't cracked the NHL full-time yet, but the club did tender a qualifying offer earlier this summer. One can assume he could be part of a trade considering he isn't signed yet, but for now, we're left wondering what's next for the 24-year-old.