Top 25 Restricted Free Agents for 2023

Most hockey fans keep tabs on unrestricted free agents during the offseason, and rightfully so. Unless they sign extensions with their current teams before July 1, chances are they end up with new clubs for the following season. And sometimes, some big names hit the market on July 1 (i.e. a John Tavares or Dougie Hamilton). 

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But even though UFAs make most of the noise on July 1, fans shouldn’t look past the crop of restricted free agents. Sure, most RFAs end up signing with their current teams. But RFAs also have an impact on the trade market. Case and point, look at Kevin Fiala, who got dealt to the Los Angeles Kings from the Minnesota Wild last offseason. Let’s take a look at the RFA class for 2023.

DeBrincat Headlines Talented RFA Class

This summer’s cast of RFAs has quite a bit of talent, some of who could be potential trade candidates. After getting dealt to the Ottawa Senators at the 2022 draft, Ottawa Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch recently reported that extension talks with Alex DeBrincat were not going well and that he could get traded at this year’s draft. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights and is one year away from UFA status, so it wouldn’t be a shock if the Senators moved him if it doesn’t appear they have a deal in the works heading toward July 1. 

Likewise, the Winnipeg Jets will have a decision to make on Pierre-Luc Dubois, who’s also an RFA with arbitration rights and is one year away from UFA status. He’s made it clear in the past that he’d like to play for the Montreal Canadiens. If the Jets can’t find a way to convince him to stay in Winnipeg long-term, he’ll likely get dealt; he appeared at No. 8 on The Athletic’s initial offseason trade board, with DeBrincat right behind him at No. 9 (From “NHL offseason trade board: What we’re hearing about Jets stars, Leafs’ Core 4 and other targets” – The Athletic, 5/15/2023). 

Pierre-Luc Dubois Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg Jets winger Pierre-Luc Dubois (Photo by Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Those two players are the most likely RFAs to be traded this offseason, at least as of this writing. Still, some teams will have interesting negotiations ahead of them. Based on Jesper Bratt and New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald’s comments in their end-of-season pressers, it appears the two sides will agree to an extension. But on top of that, Fitzgerald will have to get a long-term contract done with Timo Meier, who the Devils acquired from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline. 

Though not quite in the same position as the Devils, the Anaheim Ducks have two marquee names to re-sign in Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry. Both players are integral parts of the organization getting out of their rebuild, meaning long-term deals could be in the cards for both forwards. 

Related: Top 30 Free Agents for 2023

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And while most of the marquee RFAs are skaters this summer, a couple of goaltenders could be in for paydays. After coming out of nowhere in 2022-23, Filip Gustavsson is in line for a significant raise after posting a .931 save percentage in 39 games during the regular season. In Boston, Jeremy Swayman will be looking to cash in after another impressive regular season in which he posted a .920 SV%. 

Most of these RFAs will re-sign with their current teams. But in a flat cap era with a weak UFA class, don’t be surprised if some find themselves on the move via trades. Also of note, Shane Pinto is on this list, but he falls in the 10.2(c) category, meaning he’s a player who does not meet the UFA requirements or the Group 2 RFA requirements but has been issued a qualifying offer. He’s only eligible to negotiate and sign a contract with the team that holds his rights (all this per CapFriendly). Without further ado, here are our top 25 RFAs for the 2023 offseason. (Stats below are from the 2022-23 regular season). 

RankPlayer PositionAge Games PlayedGoals AssistsPointsTeam Cap Hit
1Alex DeBrincatRW2582273966OTT$6.4 million
2Jesper BrattRW2482324173NJD$5.45 million
3Timo MeierLW/RW2682402666NJD$6 million
4Trevor ZegrasC2281234265ANA$925,000
5Pierre-Luc DuboisLW2573273663WPG$6 million
6Vince DunnD2681145064SEA$4 million
7Troy TerryRW2570233861ANA$1.45 million
8Evan BouchardD238283240EDM$863,333
9Filip GustavssonG24392.10 GAA.931 SV%MIN$787,500
10K’Andre MillerD237993443NYR$925,000
11Cole CaufieldRW2246261036MTL$880,833
12Jeremy SwaymanG24392.27 GAA.920 SV%BOS$925,000
13Daniel SprongRW2666212546SEA$750,000
14Matias MaccelliLW2264113849ARI$853,333
15Gabe VilardiRW2363231841LAK$825,000
16Bowen ByramD2242101424COL$894,167
17Ross ColtonLW2681161632TBL$1.125 million
18Noah CatesLW2482132538PHI$925,000
19Ilya SamsonovG26422.33 GAA.919 SV%TOR$1.8 million
20Shane PintoC2282201535OTT$925,000
21Alexis LafreniereLW2181162339NYR$925,000
22Calen AddisonD236232629MIN$795,000
23Morgan FrostC2481192746PHI$800,000
24Alex NewhookC/LW2282141630COL$908,333
25Yegor SharangovichC/LW2575131730NJD$2 million