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Last-minute contracts

Joffrey Lupul has one year left on his deal with the Maple Leafs, worth $4.25 million. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Joffrey Lupul has one year left on his deal with the Maple Leafs, worth $4.25 million. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL collective bargaining negotiations have brought trades and unrestricted free agent signings to a standstill over the past month, but have had little effect on teams re-signing key players who are 30 or younger with one season remaining on their existing contracts.

Edmonton Oilers left winger Taylor Hall and right winger Jordan Eberle; Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris; Philadelphia Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell and right winger Wayne Simmonds; Montreal Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty; and Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner inked long-term contract extensions last month which take effect in 2013-14.

No one knows for certain what ultimately will be contained in a new CBA. The salary cap could be lowered, term limits imposed on new contracts, and rules governing free agency (especially the eligibility for UFA status) could change.

Hence the reason those teams were keen to get those players – eager for long-term job security – signed now.

With the current CBA set to expire in less than than two weeks (Sept. 15), one wonders if there might be a last-minute blizzard of signings involving other 30-or-younger players eligible for restricted free agent or UFA status next summer.

The 2013 UFA pool is currently much deeper in that type of talent than this year’s, though the depth could shrink as some of those players either ink extensions with their current teams or with their new clubs if they’re traded during the season.

Notable forwards include Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and right winger Corey Perry; Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss; New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac; Detroit Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula; Toronto Maple Leafs left winger Joffrey Lupul; and San Jose Sharks left winger Ryane Clowe.

Goaltenders include Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings and Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars, while 26-year-old Alexander Edler of the Vancouver Canucks would be the best available under-30 defenseman.

The 2013 RFA pool is, of course, made up entirely of 20-something talent and deep in quality defensemen. Notables include Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues; Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers; Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks; Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Phoenix Coyotes; Zach Bogosian of the Winnipeg Jets; and Karl Alzner of the Washington Capitals. 

Forwards include Boston Bruins left wingers Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, along with center Tyler Seguin; New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique; Winnipeg Jets right winger Blake Wheeler; St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund; and New York Rangers left winger Carl Hagelin and center Derek Stepan.

If their respective clubs hope to ink any of them to deals exceeding five years in length, the next couple of weeks could be their last, best opportunity.

Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.

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