According to Capgeek.com, the Devils have 11 RFA's coming up this off-season, six of whom are roster players (the other five are on the Albany roster). A few rules from the CBA are very important for speculating on what is going to happen with our RFA players. They involve the point at which a player can become a UFA and the ability of a team to re-sign its own players for up to eight years. On top of all this, the reduction in the NHL Salary Cap from $70.2M to $64.3M next season will have an impact.
Chiefly among these concerns is going to be UFA eligibility. One of the primary responsibilities of a player agent is to maximize a player's income and player's make more money as UFAs than they do by continuing to play for the team that drafted them. The current CBA specifies that a player becomes eligible for UFA status once they reach the age of 27 or they have played seven seasons in the NHL. Most player's are going to want to setup their situation so that their current contracts end at the same time they become UFA eligible, to maximize their UFA eligibility.
Given this information, let's take a look, in alphabetical order, at our RFAs:
Jean-Sebastien Berube, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $540,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $594,000
Berube is a late-round pick who is a trying to be a physical presence on the ice. He only played in 23 games this season, splitting his time between the AHL and the ECHL. Berube is 22 so he still has some time to develop into a fourth-liner, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Devils give him two or three more years since we love our tough guys. He won't get more than his Qualifying Offer dictates though.
Speculation: 2 Years @ $594,000
Matt D'Agostini, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $1.8M
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $1.8M
D'Agostini was a 20-goal scorer back in 2010-11 with the St. Louis Blues, but has struggled greatly to reproduce that success. Perhaps the burden of his extension was the source of his difficulty, but it's hard to say. Whatever the cause, the expectations were not met, and there seems little chance that D'Agostini will be qualified at his current salary. That said, it may not be a bad idea to re-sign him as a UFA, instead of making a qualifying offer. Lou clearly sees some promise in him, and other players thrown to the wayside, such as Steve Bernier, have been able to rebound somewhat with the Devils.
Speculation: 1 Year @ $900,000 as a UFA, no Qualifying Offer
Adam Henrique, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $525,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $577,500
The former Calder Trophy candidate had a serious sophomore slump. Still, Henrique is due for a modest pay day based on his performance. He was benched late in the season, and deservedly so, but on a team with a coach who likes to make his young players watch from the press box, Henrique has been consistently in the lineup. At the age of 23, and having appeared in the NHL in three seasons, Adam will be looking for a four-year deal to take him right up to UFA eligibility. Lou will likely have to give it to him, just as he did with Travis Zajac. Zajac's four-year deal was for $3.9M, but he was more consistent than Henrique.
Speculation: 4 Years @ $3.0M
Mike Hoeffel, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $687,500
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $721,875
Hoeffel was a decent forward in college and the Devils signed him as an undrafted free agent. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued him in two seasons in Albany in which he has 19 points in 102 games. This is definitely not the production the Devils were hoping for, but not cause to let him walk away. I expect the Devils to give the 24-year-old another look at a cheap enough cost to see if he has a future as a bottom-six forward at any level.
Speculation: 2 Years @ $725,000
Jacob Josefson, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $900,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $945,000
Josefson has had a lot of ups and downs in three seasons with the Devils, but the potential for a solid two-way third-line center is evident. Josefson plays well on the penalty kill, but his consistency has been questionable. JJ is only 22 but he's played three seasons, which means he'll also be looking for a four-year deal, like Adam Henrique. Injuries and inconsistency have been the bane of Josefson's career so far, but he certainly deserves an opportunity to play a full season with wingers more talented than Krys Barch and Tom Kostopolous.
Speculation: 4 Years @ $1.5M
Dan Kelly, Defenceman
2012-13 Salary: $590,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $649,000
The Devils have a ton of defencemen in the system and Kelly is a defensive blue-liner. With Salvador, Volchenkov, Fayne and Tallinder in the NHL it's unlikely Kelly would be needed even as a depth defender at any point. However, it's important to keep players in Albany so the team can be competitive, and with Jay Leach and Matt Corrente both likely being let walk as UFAs, that's where I expect Kelly to play out the next few years.
Speculation: 3 Years @ $700,000
Keith Kinkaid, Goaltender
2012-13 Salary: $665,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $698,250
This is a big off-season for Kinkaid, but that's mostly because Jeff Frazee is a UFA. The Devils have some important decisions to make. Kinkaid and Frazee along with Maxime Clermont and Scott Wedgewood are all battling for the chance to ascend to Martin Brodeur's throne one day. Kinkaid was made the starter in Albany this season, which makes it seem likely that Frazee's time with the organization has come to an end. I expect to see Kinkaid/Wedgewood in Albany this season, and Frazee's next contract should reflect that.
Speculation: 4 Years @ $1.0M
Andrei Loktionov, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $575,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $632,500
Loktionov had a break-out season in a contract year which is the best time to have a break-out season. Though he's only 22 now, he made his NHL debut at the age of 18 (like Ilya Kovalchuk) and could be a UFA as soon as three years from now. His production was on par with Adam Henrique's this season, though his consistency was not as good. Regardless, he appears to be the pivot that brings life to Ilya Kovalchuk and that's worth a decent pay raise.
Speculation: 3 Years @ $2.5M
Harri Pesonen, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $595,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $654,500
Pesonen was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Finland and put up 30 points in 64 games in Albany earning him a late-season call-up from the Devils. His scoring potential is going to be enough to keep him around an organization that severely lacks in goal-scoring. He's 24 now, so a three-year deal brings him to UFA eligibility.
Speculation: 3 Years @ $900,000
Mike Sislo, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $595,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $654,500
Sislo is basically in the same boat as Pesonen, but is a year older and played college hockey for the University of New Hampshire. He has 53 points in 120 games over two seasons with Albany. Keeping him around, along with Pesonen and the incoming Matteau and Boucher should help develop some scoring talent in the AHL over the next couple of seasons. Sislo is 25 so his clock is ticking. He was called up at the end of the season, but DeBoer did not dress him for any games.
Speculation: 2 Years @ $900,000
Mattias Tedenby, Forward
2012-13 Salary: $875,000
Minimum Qualifying Offer: $918,750
At this point I don't know what to make of Tedenby. I wouldn't be surprised if the Devils don't qualify him. I wouldn't be surprised if they do. His expected raise up to almost $1M seems negligible since the likelihood of him getting another crack at the NHL is unlikely. I expect Lou to give him one last shot at training camp, though I also wouldn't be surprised if Tedenby went back to Sweden at this point either.
Speculation: 1 Year @ $920,000
That's my take on the Devils' RFA situation. What do you guys think?