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RFA's: The Last Pre-Lockout Open Questions

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With the next CBA uncertain, Jamie Benn's next contract is up in the air.
With the next CBA uncertain, Jamie Benn's next contract is up in the air.

Apparently one of the consequences of a lockout would be the NHL barring member clubs from promoting individual players. Which would be too bad for the Islanders, who do quite a bit of community-related publicity with their players, such as Michael Grabner over the weekend.

We'll see how strictly this policy is applied to initiatives that chiefly publicize or raise money for local nonprofits. That brings up the more familiar casualty of a work stoppage: the vendors and arena workers who depend on games for their jobs. If that feels cliche to consider, it's only because stoppages have become all too ridiculously frequent in sports.

Anyway, the last gasps resume today: An "informal" meeting between both sides, which some call a farce, and many think is but a prelude to a long lockout. A recent Offside Sports Blog podcast with ex-NHLPA head Paul Kelly boils the issues down well -- and also makes me wish he was still in charge instead of Donald Fehr.

Aside from all that, a few other topics:

Roberto Luongo still wants to be in Florida, and Panthers young blueliner Erik Gudbranson has shoulder surgery, but the funniest item in that link is that the Panthers' home arena is getting yet another new name. From Fleet to First Bank, this is why I don't even try to remember them.

Bridgeport: Here is Storm's community visit schedule. And awesomely, they're doing a Mark Wotton bobblehead night Feb. 24.

Tyler Seguin is one of the restricted free agent players who got in under the wire with a new deal before the CBA expiration, but P.K. Subban remains one who hasn't -- as does Matt Martin. Budding Dallas Stars star Jamie Benn is another -- and his situation appears to have been altered by the Hurricanes shaking the market when they paid Jeff Skinner like he's John Tavares.

It makes for an interesting storyline outside of this final week's CBA grandstanding: Add Evander Kane -- who like Subban, supposedly has an offer on the table -- and John Carlson to that group, and you have some interesting RFA's whose futures are caught between discomfort with the current rules and uncertainty over the new ones. Whenever they're finalized.