The signing deadline for all restricted free agents has come and gone, meaning they will not be eligible to play in the NHL this season. The group is headlined by Jesse Puljujarvi and Julius Honka, who are both currently playing in Finland and will have to wait for another chance in North America.
The Dallas Stars were rumored to be looking at potential offers Sunday for their young free agent, who was described as “an asset” earlier this weekend. Despite being a relatively high first-round pick, Honka never really found a fit with Dallas and played just 87 NHL games over his entry-level contract.
An elite offensive weapon at the minor-league level, Honka would be an intriguing option for any team looking to add some skill to the back end. Apparently any interest shown wasn’t enough to convince Dallas GM Jim Nill, however, who will now have plenty of time to work out a deal before the 2020-21 season. Even though Honka is playing in Finland, his agent, Todd Diamond, told Sean Shapiro of The Athletic that there is a chance he could move to another league at some point.
Puljujarvi meanwhile has been very clear with his desire to be sent out of the Edmonton Oilers organization. After three disappointing and frustrating seasons since he was the fourth overall pick in 2016, Puljujarvi decided not to sign as an RFA and is instead spending the season dominating Liiga back in Finland. The big winger has 24 points in 25 games for Karpat and is improving his value daily for Oilers GM Ken Holland.
It doesn’t appear as though either player will ever suit up again for their current NHL organizations, and this deadline guarantees they at least won’t do so this season. However, it doesn’t completely end trade speculation, as their rights could still be swapped at any point. The young free agents are no longer eligible to play in the 2019-20 season, but that doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of either one.
By: Gavin Lee