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Who are the top restricted free agents?

Thursday, 07.19.2012 / 1:33 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Who are the top restricted free agents?
A quick look at the best RFAs available who should receive hefty raises soon. It's not likely that one of these guys will sign an offer sheet, but as in the case of Shea Weber, anything is possible.

Shea Weber signing an offer sheet -- reportedly worth $110 million across 14 years -- was quite the water-cooler topic for the hockey community Thursday.

Offer sheets for restricted free agents are a rare occurrence during the history of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is just the seventh signed Offer since 2005. But could Weber's deal spark interest in other restricted free agents? There are several quality players out there on the RFA market, if "a market" were to develop.

Here's a quick look at the best RFAs available, with their cap hit from the 2011-12 season in parentheses. Expect all of these players to receive a hefty raise. Recent history says it will most likely be from their current employer, but as the Philadelphia Flyers and Weber have shown, there could be other options.

Evander Kane, F, Winnipeg ($3.1 million)

Kane turns 21 years old next month, and scored 30 goals for the Jets last season. He could be one of the League's premier power forwards for the next decade. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press reported earlier this week that Kane's representatives and the Jets are working on a long-term contract.

Ryan O'Reilly, F, Colorado ($900,000)

O'Reilly had a breakout campaign in 2011-12, finishing with 18 goals and a team-leading 55 points. He turns 22 years old in February, and is already one of the top two-way centers in the League. The Avalanche also have centers Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, but O'Reilly could be the most valuable of the three.

P.K. Subban, D, Montreal ($875,000)

Subban played more than 24 minutes a night in his sophomore NHL season, and the 23-year-old is one of the most dynamic young defensemen in the League. He had 14 goals and 38 points in his rookie season, and seven goals and 36 points in 2011-12.

Tyler Ennis, F, Buffalo ($875,000)

Ennis had just five points in his first 18 games last season and missed about six weeks with an injury twice, but finished with a flurry as the center of Buffalo's most productive line in the final month. He ended the season with 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games. Eight of his 15 goals came after March 8. Ennis had 20 goals and 49 points as a rookie, and turns 23 years old in October.

John Carlson, D, Washington ($845,833)

Carlson has teamed with Karl Alzner to form the top defensive pairing for the Capitals in each of the past two seasons. He had some growing pains in his second full NHL season, but Carlson finished with nine goals and 32 points while logging nearly 22 minutes of ice time per contest during the regular season before playing more than 24 minutes a night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He will be 23 in January.

Jamie Benn, F, Dallas ($821,667)

Benn squared off against Carlson and Alzner in the marquee matchup of the 2010 Calder Cup Final, and the 23-year-old has become one of the Stars' most important players. He had 26 goals and 63 points last season while earning a spot in the 2012 All-Star Game, and could be Dallas' No. 1 center for years to come.

Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares