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SportsNHL rumors 2019: Tkachuk, Boeser and the top restricted free agents in NHL's Pacific Division

11:21  25 june  2019
11:21  25 june  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

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NHL rumors 2019: Tkachuk, Boeser and the top restricted free agents in NHL's Pacific Division© Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

The NHL's free-agent period begins on July 1 and several notable young stars are due to become restricted free agents. A few might be difficult to keep as they could receive competitive offer sheets from rival clubs.

Between now and July 1, Sporting News will examine the NHL's top RFA players. This week, we look at the Pacific Division:

Matthew Tkachuk - Calgary Flames

Since his NHL debut in 2016-17, Tkachuk established himself among the league's elite power forwards. Following two seasons with at least 48 points each, the 21-year-old left wing enjoyed a 34-goal, 77-point breakout performance in 2018-19. He finished third among Flames scorers in goals and fourth in points.

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Completing his entry-level contract, Tkachuk is in line for a substantial raise and he could become the Flames' highest-paid player. The Score's Josh Wegman projects he'll get an eight-year, $51-million contract. That's an annual average value of $8.5 million.

With over $68.5 million invested in 19 players, the Flames can afford to pay for Tkachuk's big raise. But assuming the salary cap reaches $83 million, it won't leave much to re-sign forward Sam Bennett and goaltenders Mike Smith and Dave Rittich. If Tkachuk isn't re-signed by July 1, he could become a tempting offer-sheet target.

Brock Boeser - Vancouver Canucks

Despite two injury-shortened seasons, Boeser is already a key member of the rebuilding Canucks. The 22-year-old right wing followed up a 29-goal, 55-point rookie campaign (in 62 games) by tallying 26 goals and 56 points in 69 contests this past season.

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In 2017-18, Boeser was the Canucks' leading goal scorer and tied Daniel Sedin for first place in team points. Despite missing 23 games this season, he finished third in goals and points.

Like Tkachuk, Boeser is completing his entry-level contract. His injury history, however, could affect how much he gets and for how long. Nevertheless, Boeser's annual average value could reach $7 million. The Canucks won't have to worry about a rival club signing him away; he's not offer-sheet eligible, and with over $52.4 million wrapped up in 20 players, they'll easily lock him up.

William Karlsson - Vegas Golden Knights

After spending over two seasons on the checking lines with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Karlsson's career blossomed with the Golden Knights. Tallying a career-high 43 goals and 78 points in 2017-18, he was their leading scorer throughout their inaugural campaign

Karlsson's production declined in 2018-19. Still, he finished second among Vegas scorers with a respectable 28 goals and 56 points. Those could be more realistic numbers for the 26-year-old center in the coming years. The Golden Knights wisely re-signed Karlsson last summer to a one-year, $5.25-million contract. He's once again an RFA with arbitration rights and will seek a more lucrative deal this time.

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The Golden Knights' limited salary-cap space will complicate matters. They've already invested over $83 million in 19 players and must shed salary to make room for Karlsson's new contract. If they don't move fast enough, a rival club could come calling with an offer sheet.

Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc - San Jose Sharks

Meier, 22, followed up his 21-goal, 37-point sophomore campaign with a 30-goal, 66-point effort this season. He finished third among Sharks scorers in goals and fourth in points.

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Having tallied 40 points in 2017-18, the 23-year-old Labanc reached 56 points this past season. He tied Tomas Hertl for fourth in assists (39) and Evander Kane for sixth in points.

Meier and Labanc are completing entry-level contracts and could become offer-sheet targets, especially since the Sharks' recent re-siging of defensman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year, $92-million contract took a big bite out of their salary-cap space. With over $70.4 million invested in 16 players, and with veterans Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton eligible for UFA status on July 1, the Sharks are squeezed for cap room.

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