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Morning Flurries: One more RFA down

One very important one to go

Tampa Bay Lightning v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche seemed like they were likely close with pending restricted free agent Mikko Rantanen earlier this summer, sitting with the most cap space of any of the teams still struggling to find room for their best and brightest players still in need of contract extensions.

In the weeks since the rumors initially started circulating about Rantanen and the Avalanche getting close in talks, though, other RFA dominos have started to fall — and Rantanen has remained unsigned, instead practicing over in Switzerland with fellow unsigned Finnish national Patrik Laine.

First, defenders Zach Werenski, Josh Morrissey, and Ivan Provorov all got their deals locked up.

Then Mitch Marner finally signed the long-awaited deal with Toronto, seemingly setting the pace for other RFA hold-outs to start heading to the table to negotiate with their own teams. [Sportsnet]

His deal was followed just days later by new bridge deals for Brock Boeser, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo, while Travis Konecny and Thomas Chabot locked up their own long-term contracts within that same span. And on Monday morning, Brayden Point really shook things up — not only inking a bridge deal instead of a long-term one, but taking an incredibly team-friendly number, too:

(For an excellent look at how Brayden Point has been trending into the star player he is now, by the way, it’s worth going back and re-reading this piece by Sonny Sachveda from earlier in the year.)

Point, of course, stands to make more in the long run than Matthews, Marner, or even Edmonton’s Connor McDavid by banking on a cap spike before his bridge deal runs out — and on Tampa Bay freeing up some cap space before that happens.

But as rattling as the move is for Leafs fans, it’s also a bit of an eyebrow-raiser for Avalanche fans — who still don’t have Rantanen under contract with just a week to go until the regular season is set to begin.

The Calgary Flames will have legitimate trouble getting Matthew Tkachuk signed any time soon, as the Pacific Division club doesn’t seem to have the cap space to fit their antagonistic winger even if he takes a friendlier-looking deal like Point. Apart from Kyle Connor, though, the other remaining contract holdouts are all Finnish nationals — which leaves the Avalanche antsy but far from alone as Rantanen and Laine are joined by Carolina winger Saku Maenalanen and Dallas Stars defender Julius Honka (who, to his credit, has asked for a trade) on the list of players who haven’t locked things up yet.

It’s a tough deal for Colorado, who lose out on valuable pre-season skates for their coveted top line with every day that Rantanen remains overseas. But they’re far from idle as they prepare for opening night:

The team officially trimmed down their roster again on Monday, slimming the NHL training camp list down to just 37 players and counting. [Mile High Hockey]

Those who aren’t still at camp, though, have been kicking off their own junior seasons across the globe. Here’s a look at who’s doing what among the Avalanche’s prospect list. [MHH]

And for those who have been using their preseason time to focus on the hype that the women’s game has been building, here’s your overview of what’s been happening for the Women’s Dream Gap Tour over the last few days. [The Ice Garden]

And speaking of the women’s game, this girl’s team just demoralized their opponent and put fear in the hearts of fellow goalies everywhere:

Also, giving a huge shout-out to NHL dot com for giving William Douglas (the incredible mastermind behind the Color Of Hockey website and Twitter account) a chance to write the stories that matter this year. Here’s his look at a minority-oriented hockey team from Maryland, and how they’re finally getting the new rink they’ve desperately needed since their home barn burned down in 2017. []