Free Agency

Potential RFAs and Trade Targets for Blackhawks This Offseason

By Tony Gianares
WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 12: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets keeps an eye on the play during second period action against the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell MTS Place on April 12, 2019 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Blues defeated the Jets 4-3 to lead the series 2-0. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 12: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets keeps an eye on the play during second period action against the St. Louis Blues in Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell MTS Place on April 12, 2019 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Blues defeated the Jets 4-3 to lead the series 2-0. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – APRIL 15: Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 15, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 15: Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 15, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Mitch Marner

The Toronto Maple Leafs are barely keeping their head above water in regards to the NHL salary cap. They are projected to have about $8.765 mil in cap space this offseason and they need to fill at least 3 spots to get to the NHL roster minimum of 20 players. They will most likely lose a key piece or two, which is great news for the Blackhawks.

It may be a pipe dream, but Mitch Marner could end up being one of Toronto’s salary cap casualties. Marner has become arguably the best player on the Maple Leafs, which is certainly saying something when you consider the star power on the team.

Mitch Marner was always an extremely talented and natural scorer, but this season, his game has evolved. He is now a very solid two-way forward, as he finished the season with a 22 ± rating. He has also seen an increase in just about every meaningful statistical category this season.

Marner is a superstar, plain and simple. Every team wishes they had their own Marner which makes this RFA case a really interesting one. Toronto is going to have to do something, because they can’t afford to keep everyone. If you haven’t seen him play, this highlight reel should catch you up on what you’ve been missing.

If the Blackhawks were able to steal Marner, it could go down as one of the biggest heists in history. Now, of course, it’s going to cost them BIG time and countless assets on top of it. Marner (22 on May 5th) is currently on the final year of his 3-year, $2.775 mil (925k AAV) entry-level contract.

He is likely going to jump straight up to the $8,454,872 – $10,568,589 tier which will cost the Blackhawks a minimum of two 1st round, one 2nd round, and one 3rd round pick. Although, I can definitely see him max out in the $10,568,590 – ∞ bracket which will cost a whopping 4 1st round picks — worth it? I’ll leave that one up to you.


TORONTO, ON – APRIL 2: Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 2: Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Kasperi Kapanen

Kasperi Kapanen is another potential salary cap casualty for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is a much more realistic RFA option than Marner, but they’re both still options. Kapanen would be a nice addition to the Blackhawks, as he would bolster the forward depth and he can play a variety of roles.

Kapanen has finally burst onto the scene in his 4th NHL season, as he put up 44 points in 78 games with a 12 ± rating. He played on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd lines for the Maple Leafs this season and thrived in every role. Kapanen can also fill in on the power play and displays good defensive awareness.

Now, Kasperi Kapanen might not be Mitch Marner, but he’s a player that will help your team win. His attitude is infectious and he’s a team player. You can see his passion and his skills on display here.

Kapanen is a sneaky good RFA target, because he won’t cost you nearly as much to acquire as other players. He is currently on the final year of a 3-year, $2.775 mil ($925k AAV) entry-level deal. Kapanen has earned a nice raise and will likely end up in either the $4,227,438 – $6,341,152 tier (one 1st round, 3rd round pick) and no higher than the $6,341,153 – $8,454,871 tier (one 1st round, 2nd round, 3rd round pick).


TORONTO, ON – APRIL 17: Andreas Johnsson #18 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 17, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 6-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 17: Andreas Johnsson #18 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 17, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 6-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Andreas Johnsson

The third player of the Toronto Trio, Andreas Johnsson, could also become a salary cap casualty. He is more of a 2nd or 3rd line scoring forward who would help solidify the Blackhawks’ middle-6. Johnsson also plays a respectable defensive game, as he finished the season with a 14 ± rating.

Andreas Johnsson officially arrived in his 2nd NHL season, where he racked up 43 points (20G, 23A) in 73 games. A couple of things that I really like about Johnsson is that he can score from multiple spots on the ice and isn’t afraid to get to the dirty areas around the net.

Any time the puck is on Andreas Johnsson’s stick, anything can happen. In the video, Johnsson showcases his scoring, skating, and awareness. I believe he would be a solid addition to the Blackhawks.

https://twitter.com/NHL/status/1066498545866424321

While Andreas Johnsson won’t break the bank, he will still cost the Blackhawks in terms of assets. He is currently playing on an expiring 1-year, $787k AAV deal, so he’ll be much more affordable in terms of actual money. Johnsson will likely land in the $2,113,717 – $4,227,437 tier which will cost the Blackhawks a 2nd round pick which isn’t bad value.

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