Detroit has 14 RFAs after this season. https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/redwings
6 of 7 listed on the main roster are arbitration eligible. That helps. Three of the RFAs listed as “in the system” (Hirose, Kuffner, Kaski) are interesting cases. Hirose made an immediate impact last year. Kuffner didn’t really get going but he may have a good year as well. Oliwer Kaski, who knows.
Detroit isn’t in danger at this point of a major impact RFA without arbitration rights holding them hostage. However, there are some important pieces coming up. Mantha, Athanasiou and Bertuzzi. I’ve said before that I think Mantha and Bert will be much easier to sign. Athanasiou has already held out in his last negotiation. I’m not sure what the time frame is, but I sincerely hope that by January Stevie Y and co know who wants to stay and who is going to try to get whatever they want. Arbitration is a blessing in that if either party files, there is at least a framework and decision. Of note, we had Jiri Hudler leave for the KHL when he didn’t like his arbitration award.
This summer has been eye opening. A very clear shift in thinking is apparent. Young players that know they are important to a team don’t want a “bridge” deal. They don’t want to wait until 28 or 29 to cash in. The new economic situation will take some time to sort itself out. There will be 29 year old players who thought they were going to cash in finding themselves waiting around. If the cap truly does stay stagnant (per player request due to escrow) there is going to be a bizarre vacuum where free agency is concerned. Jake Gardiner is feeling it this year.
I really hope that Detroit has things settled before the trade deadline. Guys we can’t or won’t re sign for what they want move on for picks or prospects, etc. I wonder how many other GMs may overpay to try to avoid this nightmare.