While all eyes on focus on RFA Mitch Marner with less than a week away before the opening of the free-agency market, one insider reminded us on Wednesday that there are other free agents to keep an eye.
The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta pointed out on Twitter that Mitch Marner isn’t the only restricted free agent generating attention, adding that he was made of reports that San Jose Sharks RFA forward Kevin Labanc has received interest from several teams.
We have heard about the trio of RFAs in Toronto in Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnson, and Winnipeg Jets’ Patrik Laine, Carolina Hurricanes’ Sebastien Aho and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brayden Point, but we can’t forget about other options that might be tempted to look elsewhere.
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell called the subject of offer sheets "overblown by the media" on Tuesday, but added the team would not lose Aho to one this summer. The Maple Leafs keep struggling to sign their prized restricted free agent in Marner. The Colorado Avalanche don’t appear close to a deal with Mikko Rantanen and the Lightning are not yet on the same page with Point on term.
But we don’t get much information on what’s happening with Labanc, but it seems like teams aren’t keeping an eye on him. The Sharks issued a qualifying offer to Labanc, Timo Meier, Dylan Gambrell, Antti Suomela and three others on Tuesday.
The Sharks have just over $14.8 million in salary-cap space according to Cap Friendly. They already risk losing forwards Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi and Gustav Nyquist as unrestricted free agents, and it seems impossible to keep all three and re-signing Meier, Labanc and Gambrell even if the restricted trio sign bridge contracts.
Will rival teams manage to pry Labanc away from San Jose?