Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 7, 2016
Check out the recent updates on the notable unsigned NHL restricted and unrestricted free agents.
TSN.CA: Gary Lawless and Jamie McLennan recently examined the list of this summer’s notable unsigned restricted free agents. Among those still awaiting new contracts are Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, Calgary Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, Ottawa Senators blueliner Cody Ceci, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, Anaheim Ducks d-man Hampus Lindholm and Buffalo Sabres rearguard Rasmus Ristolainen.
Lawless claimed things were quiet between Trouba and the Jets, though that’s not unusual given the time of the summer. He claims they’re apart on money, term and how he’s used, as the blueliner no longer wants to play on the bottom-three defense. The Jets want to retain him, preferably for a long time. Lawless doubts Trouba will be dealt.
McLennan tried to calm Flames fans who might be nervous over Gaudreau and Monahan not being re-signed yet. He points out it’s going to take time to hammer out new deals for these twin pillars of the organization. He believes there’s still plenty of time for those players and Flames management to get new contracts worked out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One thing all those players have in common is they’re coming off entry-level contracts. They don’t have as much leverage as they would if they had had arbitration rights. As a result, their respective teams are willing to take more time working out new contracts for them.
Some, like Gaudreau and Kucherov, are already full-fledged NHL stars and will be compensated accordingly. Monahan is on the verge of joining them. His value to the Flames as their first-line center will also ensure he gets a lucrative long-term deal. The others could get shorter terms for more cap-friendly dollars.
With unsigned players insured for the World Cup of Hockey, that eliminates the pressure for those RFAs to get a deal done before then. Given the limited leverage these players have, I doubt we’ll see any lengthy holdouts stretching into 2016-17. All should be signed when the curtain rises on the upcoming season.
TSN.CA: Jamie McLennan believes the reason several notable unrestricted free agents, such as Jiri Hudler, Kris Russell, Radim Vrbata, Brandon Pirri and Jhonas Enroth, are still unsigned is the market reset after the initial signing frenzy in early-July. He suggests Russell may have out-priced himself during the start of free agency, just like Cody Franson did last summer.
Darren Dreger recently reported Russell is still waiting for a few teams to clear money.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russell’s situation is indeed similar to Franson’s last summer. There were reports claiming his camp sought long-term deals worth between $5 – $6 million annually. He’s certainly not getting that much now. I expect he’ll have to sign a two- or three-year deal marginally higher than the $2.6 million per season of his previous contract.