Some of the biggest questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins this offseason is what to do with upcoming free agents?
The Penguins front office began answering that question one by one with new contracts to Bryan Rust, Casey DeSmith, and Kris Letang.
Other unrestricted free agents still remain but, what about the couple of restricted free agents (RFA)?
Danton Heinen and Kasperi Kapanen are the only two NHL level upcoming RFA’s and they are both due qualifying offers.
While they need offers, they stand on opposite ends of the spectrum with what they deserve.
Heinen had a roller coaster of a season, but overall there isn’t much to complain about; he came in on a one-year contract to prove his worth and he earned the respect of his peers.
In 76 games Heinen scored 18 goals and 15 assists for 33 points; not top six numbers but surely a great piece for the third line going forward.
Heinen’s previous contract sat at one-year $1.1 million and his production in 2021-22 earned the 27-year-old at least a two-year contract with a raise.
It wouldn’t be out of this world to give Heinen as much as $2.5 million for a pair of seasons.
Kapanen on the other hand, couldn’t put it together in 2021-22 and that hurt his next contract quite a bit.
Scoring droughts and consistency stunted what was expected of Kapanen, forcing him to only muster up 11 goals and 21 assists for 32 points in 79 games.
For the last three years Kapanen has made $3.2 million, and it’s pretty unrealistic he gets a raise this summer.
In reality, it might be best for the Penguins to move on from Kapanen and use that money for a fresh face.
If the Pens do decide to keep Kapanen around, he should be getting the kind of deal that brought Heinen here.
A one-year contract worth around the $1 million range, if not less, to show he can still cut it.
There are a number of other minor league players who are sitting at the end of their RFA deals, most notably Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Though he spent most his time with the organization in the AHL, Joseph is due for a full time spot in the NHL lineup.
League minimum for a year or two plus guaranteed NHL ice should suit the Penguins and Joseph nicely.
Sooner rather than later we will learn the fates of the upcoming RFAs, and the Penguins should walk away with out making a big dent in cap space.
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