Free agency and the NHL Draft aren’t the only ways to improve your team. The Blackhawks could also look into an interesting list of players who are either RFAs or possible trade targets.
First and foremost, defense should be the top priority this offseason. Although there’s not a ton of impressive UFA options, there is a long list of defensive upgrades available that are either RFAs or possible trade candidates. There are also a few forwards that would make sense to acquire.
Even though both routes would result in the Blackhawks giving up valuable assets, including draft picks and prospects, it may be worth it in the end. While the core gets older every year, the championship window continues to close. A quick fix would be to offer sheet an RFA or trade for an established player that fills team needs and fits their schemes.
How Does the RFA Process Work?
Restricted free agency can get confusing, so I found a great explanation via CapFriendly. They provided the rules for the RFA process, and also, broke down the compensation tiers for the 2019 offseason as the following:
"An offer sheet consists of 7 compensation tiers. Compensation to the receiving club is made up entirely of draft picks. The draft picks must available in the nearest entry draft, unless the compensation requires two or more draft picks in the same round: an extra year can be used to for compensation for these picks (if two 1st round picks are required, the club must have two 1st round picks available in the next three drafts) Compensation is determined by the annual average (AAV) outlined in the offer made by submitting club. The AAV for an offer sheet, which determines the compensation required, is derived by dividing the total contract value amount by the lesser of:number of years offered, or five (5) years The AAV thresholds are readjusted each season, and is based on the average league salary for that season. An offer sheet cannot be greater than 7 years in length. AAV (Compensation) $0 – $1,395,053 (No Compensation) $1,395,054 – $2,113,716 (1 Third Round Pick) $2,113,717 – $4,227,437 (1 Second Round Pick) $4,227,438 – $6,341,152 (1 First Round Pick/1 Third Round Pick) $6,341,153 – $8,454,871 (1 First Round Pick/1 Second Round Pick/1 Third Round Pick) $8,454,872 – $10,568,589 (2 First Round Picks/1 Second Round Pick/1 Third Round Pick) $10,568,590 – ∞ (4 First Round Picks) (via CapFriendly)"