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NHL Notebook: Top 10 remaining RFAs not named Evan Bouchard, Svechnikov expected to be ready by the start of Carolina Hurricanes’ season, and more

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Photo credit:David Zalubowski/AP
Aleena Aksenchuk
8 months ago
While over 160 unrestricted free agents have signed new contracts after the start of free agency on July 1st, there are still plenty of restricted free agents that remain unsigned.
It will be tight for a few teams who still have moves to make, with training camps starting in around a month. According to CapFriendly, 14 of 32 NHL teams are sitting under $1 million in cap space, with eight sitting over the cap. 
For the Edmonton Oilers, there’s one missing piece to the puzzle that is still waiting to be signed: defenceman Evan Bouchard.
The 23-year-old has notched two back-to-back 40-point seasons, making himself a staple on the Oilers’ blueline. More recently, he’s become a quarterback on the first power-play unit. This past Stanley Cup Playoffs he came in clutch for the club scoring 17 points in the Oilers’ 12 appearances.
Aside from Bouchard, plenty of elite talent is sitting on the edge, waiting for their respective teams to make their move. Daily Faceoff’s Colton Davies has put together a list of the top 10 remaining RFA’s, here are just a few of them:

Trevor Zegras, C/LW, 22 (Anaheim Ducks)

2022-23 salary cap hit: $925,000
Zegras has taken the patient route, waiting things out similar to Troy Terry. Zegras notched 23 goals and 45 assists for a team-leading 65 points in 81 games last season – the second straight season that he has surpassed the 20-goal and 60-point threshold. The Bedford, New York product has already garnished a list of achievements throughout his young career. He won a 2021 world junior gold medal with the United States, is a Top-10 draft pick and was the EA Sports NHL 23 video game cover boy. In 189 NHL games, Zegras has tallied 49 goals and 90 assists for 139 points.

Morgan Frost, C, 24 (Philadelphia Flyers)

2022-23 salary cap hit: $800,000
The Philadelphia youngin is coming off a healthy, 19-goal, 46-point season. His value has only increasedafter the club traded Kevin Hayes, and the lost season of Sean Couturier last year. While the Flyers do have extra cap space, it seems the route they will be going is a bridge deal. In March, the Aurora, Ontario product told reporters, “I want to be here next year. I want to be here for the long run.” General Manager Danny Briere already took care of fellow RFAs Cam York and Noah Cates with two-year bridge deals, and, soon, Frost could be next.

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Svechnikov expected to be ready for start of Hurricanes season

Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov is expected to be ready for the start of the season and could return even sooner for training camp following knee surgery in March.
On March 11th, 2023, the 23-year-old forward sustained a torn ACL during the second period of a 4-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. The injury was innocent and non-contact related, it was suspected that he might have hit a rut in the ice, but Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell didn’t want to speculate.
He returned to play for the remainder of the game but did not dress for the Hurricanes’ 3-0 loss against the New Jersey Devils the following night. It was announced on March 13th that the forward would be out indefinitely, missing the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.
Now that the forward has time to heal and rehabilitate, Svechnikov hopes to join the team on opening night against the Ottawa Senators on October 11th.
Prior to his injury, he was fourth in points on the Hurricanes with 23 goals and 55 points and made his first NHL All-Star appearance in early February
Here’s more from NHL.com on what Hurricanes GM Waddell announced:
“He’s four months after surgery (in July) and [was] skating by himself, not with any contact or anything,” Waddell said on NHL Network.
“Six months will basically be right when training camp opens, so he’s right on schedule or maybe even ahead of schedule.
“He wants to be playing today, but we’ll be cautious, obviously. October is important, but as the season goes on, it becomes even more important. I fully expect him to be ready when the season starts.”

Karlsson eyeing Stanley Cup following trade to Pittsburgh Penguins

Superstar defenceman Erik Karlsson was moved through a three-team trade and is now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now that he’s begun to settle in, he wants the one thing he hasn’t had his hands on yet: the Stanley Cup.
Last year the 33-year-old once again claimed the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenceman after scoring 25 goals and 101 points for his former team, the San Jose Sharks. The feat made him the sixth defenceman in NHL history to reach 100 points in a single season since Brian Leetch in 1991-92 when he had 102 points for the New York Rangers.
Karlsson has had quite the history with the Penguins despite not wearing their colours until this upcoming season. In 2010, 2013, and 2017 the Penguins eliminated him and the Ottawa Senators from the remainder of postseason contention. In 2017, the Eastern Conference final elimination resulted in the Penguins moving on to win the Stanley Cup for the second season in a row.
Karlsson has plenty of excitement about his new colours and his new defensive partner Kris Letang,
“I’m excited to be able to work alongside guys like that and to learn things,” Karlsson said.
“That’s my game. I hope that what I bring, it’s going to help them out as well. And I think at the end of the day, we’re all trying to do the same thing, which is just to win hockey games and to win the Cup. We all fall in the same role.”
Here’s more from NHL.com on what Karlsson has to say moving towards the start of the 2023-24 campaign:
“[The Stanley Cup has] always been the ultimate drive,” Karlsson said Wednesday. “I think, for myself, I like to play the important games and I like to be on successful teams, having success collectively as a group.”
“I love the game. It’s playing with the puck. I still like to do that,” Karlsson said.
“And I think that I found a joy in the game again this year, for real. And I just love it. … In my opinion, the team that controls the puck the most and has the puck the most is usually the team that is going to do the best.

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