Smith-Pelly, Mrazek, Duclair among those not getting qualifying offers
Monday was the deadline for the NHL’s 31 teams to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents. Players that did not get a QO would then be able to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, and there are some notable names among that group.
A lot of the players that get non-tendered are ones that have arbitration rights and by non-tendering them teams can avoid that situation while still trying to work out a new contract. The trade off there is they risk losing them on July 1.
Perhaps the biggest name to be non-tendered on Monday is Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
The Capitals announced on Monday that he was not among their RFA’s to receive a QO but that they are still negotiating with him in the hopes of coming to an agreement on a contract. His QO would have been worth $715,000.
Smith-Pelly’s story is a complicated one because he had a rather forgettable regular season that saw him score just seven goals and only nine assists in 76 games. Along with that he posted rather poor underlying numbers (only 44 percent possession) and averaged just a little more than one shot on goal per game. It was not really a performance that would have inspired the Capitals, a team already tight against the salary cap, to bring him back.
In the playoffs, however, he came through in a huge way by matching his regular season goal output (seven) and scored some massive goals for the team in the Stanley Cup Final, including a game-tying goal in the third period of their Game 5, Cup-clinching victory against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Along with his playoff heroics for the Capitals, Smith-Pelly was also the victim of one of the ugliest moments of the 2017-18 NHL season when a group of Blackhawks fans were kicked out of (and banned from) the United Center for directing racist taunts in his direction as he sat in the penalty box.
During the Cup Final he also went on record talking about why a visit to the White House in the event of a Capitals invite would be troublesome for him, saying that he had already made up his mind on not visiting.
The Capitals can still attempt to re-sign him to a new contract but after signing John Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension over the weekend they have just a little more than $13 million in cap space remaining with only 16 players under contract.
Among some of the other more notable players to not receive a QO:
• Petr Mrazek, Philadelphia Flyers: With goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth injured for the stretch run, the Flyers were desperate for goaltending help and traded draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings to acquire Mrazek. His time with the team was, to say the least, ugly. In 18 games between the regular season and playoffs Mrazek managed only an .890 save percentage. Over the past two seasons with the Red Wings and Flyers his save percentage is just .900.
• Anthony Duclair, Chicago Blackhawks: After a promising first full NHL season that saw him score 20 goals with the Arizona Coyotes, Duclair’s production has regressed over the past two seasons and he was eventually traded to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2017-18 campaign. The change of scenery and fresh start did not really seem to do much for him in the short-term, at least not enough to make the Blackhawks extend him a QO, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times. He is still only 22 years old and has a lot of talent so he is going to be an attractive buy-low free agent for a team in need of some young skill.
• Derrick Pouliot, Vancouver Canucks: After being selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pouliot’s career simply has not developed as hoped to this point. The Penguins gave up on him prior to this season and traded him to the Canucks where he would go on to play a regular role. In 71 games he scored three goals and recorded 19 assists.
• Tobias Rieder, Los Angeles Kings: The Kings acquired Rieder in the middle of the season in an effort to add some much-needed speed to their lineup. He scored four goals and recorded two assists in 20 regular season games with the team but was held off the scoresheet entirely in their first-round playoff loss when they were swept in four straight games. Rieder’s production has been pretty consistent over the first four years of his career, averaging around 12 goals and 30 total points per season.