Flat salary cap forces Canadian NHL teams to cut ties with notable RFAs


The NHL’s free agency market grew a bit more crowded Wednesday as the deadline passed for teams to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

Several notable names — including Flames’ centre Mark Jankowski, Oilers’ left-winger Andreas Athanasiou and Senators’ left-winger Anthony Duclair — did not receive offers, meaning they will be available when free agency opens on Friday.

The decisions come during an unusual off-season for NHL general managers where an uncertain future and a flat salary cap limit the ability to make new deals.

Jankowski was drafted 21st overall by the Flames in 2012 and put up 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 79 games for Calgary in 2018-19. The native of Hamilton struggled last season, however, tallying seven points (five goals, two assists) in 56 games.

Left-winger Andrew Mangiapane, defenceman Oliver Kylington, centre Glenn Gawdin and goaltender Tyler Parsons received qualifying offers from Calgary.

Athanasiou was a trade-deadline pickup for the Oilers, and the 26-year-old from Woodbridge, Ont., registered 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 55 regular-season games for Edmonton after spending five seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.

Edmonton defenceman Matt Benning will also become a free agent after four seasons in an Oilers jersey.

The Oilers gave offers to defencemen Ethan Bear and William Lagesson.

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Duclair spent last season tallying 40 points (23 goals, 17 assists) for Ottawa and earned a trip to the 2020 all-star game.

The 25-year-old from Point-Claire, Que., has bounced around the league since being picked by the New York Rangers in the third round of the 2013 NHL draft.

Sens general manager Pierre Dorion said Wednesday that he didn’t want to get into the specifics of the negotiations with Duclair.

“All I will say on this is: Anthony chose to represent himself, and we told him from Day 1 that it’s not always easy to represent himself. We offered him a substantial raise over what he made last year, and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t come to a contract agreement,” Dorion said.

“We don’t close the door on anything, but he will explore free agency.”

Defenceman Andreas Englund and centre Jayce Hawryluk did not receive qualifying offers from Ottawa either.

In Vancouver, the Canucks failed to qualify defenceman Troy Stecher, who had 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in his fourth season with the Canucks. The 26-year-old from Richmond, B.C., added another three points (two goals, one assist) in 17 post-season appearances this year.

Vancouver did give offers to forwards Justin Bailey, Adam Gaudette, Tyler Motte and Jake Virtanen, defenceman Guillaume Brisebois and Jalen Chatfield, and goalie Jake Kielly.

The Canucks also signed centre Zack MacEwen, who was about to become a restricted free agent, to a new two-year deal on Tuesday.

The Winnipeg Jets qualified forwards Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins, Jack Roslovic and C.J. Suess, and defencemen Sami Niku and Nelson Nogier.

Forward Michael Spacek, who spent last season with the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League, did not receive an offer.

The Jets also inked defenceman Dylan DeMelo, a pending unrestricted free agent, to a four-year, $12-million contract extension Wednesday. Winnipeg acquired DeMelo from Ottawa before February’s trade deadline for a third-round pick (71st overall) this year.

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One of the five players the Montreal Canadiens extended offers to has already moved on to another team.

The Habs qualified defenceman Noah Juulsen, Victor Mete and Xavier Ouellet, and forwards Charles Hudson and Max Domi.

Montreal traded Domi and a third-round pick (78th overall) to the Blue Jackets for winger Josh Anderson on Tuesday. The 25-year-old centre signed a two-year, $10.6-million US contract with Columbus on Wednesday.

Defenceman Travis Dermott and forward Ilya Mikheyev received offers from the Maple Leafs, but Toronto opted not to qualify forwards Evan Rodrigues and Frederik Gauthier.

Rodrigues was part of the Kasperi Kapanen trade between the Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins in August. The 27-year-old did not play a single game for his hometown team.

Gauthier has logged 168 regular-season games for the Leafs over five seasons, putting up 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 2019-20.

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