Welcome back to NHL Rumours, where every day we look at the latest from around the NHL. Today, we focus on major Restricted Free Agent’s and where some of the top unsigned talent in the league stand with their respective teams. We look at the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic had a piece talking about where many of the RFAs currently stand. For Matthew Tkachuk, he noted, “Again, the issue here is term. I think the Tkachuk camp led by Newport Sports would prefer five years while the Flames want to avoid that. I think there’s been talk of shorter-term scenarios and also longer-term but again like most teams, avoiding five years where the players go straight to UFA is what this is about for the Flames.”
It really is crazy — even if we saw it coming — how many of these high-profile RFAs remain unsigned, writes @PierreVLeBrun. Find out why term appears to be the biggest stumbling block in many of these negotiations. https://t.co/U2OrOpnmpk
— The Athletic NHL (@TheAthleticNHL) September 3, 2019
Analysis: LeBrun also mentioned that he doesn’t believe there has been much progress since earlier in the summer when the two parties talked. This doesn’t seem to be a great sign for the Flames as Tkachuk is a big part of their offence. However, the Flames know that they can’t bend either.
The RFA Status is one of the ways teams have been able to extend their window by paying more money for bigger complementary pieces. Given the success of the regular season no doubt the Flames want to try and improve on that in the playoffs this year. The balance will be keeping Tkachuk but also having money to spend elsewhere going forward.
It is also possible that if a few other big RFAs sign, that could lead to a clearer market for what Tkachuk is worth. Clayton Keller just signed a big deal the other day. However, given Tkachuk may want a shorter contract that may not be the perfect starting point for discussions. Overall, something will have to be done at some point this season. It feels very unlikely Tkachuk will miss the whole season but given that the Flames are pretty solid upfront they could afford to let him sit out to start the year.
Rumour: Pierre LeBrun also talked about Mikko Rantanen in his article and how a similar issue may be the case. LeBrun once again said, “In this situation, I believe both sides are further away on term rather than dollars.”
Analysis: It seems similar to Tkachuk in that maybe there is an agreed dollar range but the term appears to be the issue. If a player is giving up more of his UFA years it seems understandable the price range may go up. If it’s fewer years than the team could expect a bit of a discount.
It’s possible the two sides see fit on a dollar amount but one side wants the contract to be for five years and the other thinks it would be fairer if it were for eight years. This would be relatively common in negotiating. Once again, it seems unlikely these negotiations will drag on too much longer. It seems that it’s easier to negotiate term over actual cap hit. William Nylander held out until December because of actual dollars, whereas we see teams that don’t agree on term usually settle quicker than that.
Rantanen is a huge part of an upgraded Avs offence this season and there is no doubt they will want him in as soon as possible. Some sort of deal looks possible to work itself out.
Rumour: We move to Philly for NHL Rumours where it is reported that Travis Konecny and the team have a one-year deal in the back pocket in case a longer one can’t be reached. Brandon Sommermann of PhillyFanLife reported this.
#Flyers & Konecny are believed to have 1yr deal agreed on in back pocket if mid/long term deal isnt made. So expect TK to be in camp. Provorov on other hand, belief is saga may go into training camp. No movement there until one of PHI CBJ BOS gives in. #FlyersTalk #LetsGoFlyers https://t.co/VayydVx1rb
— Brandon J. Sommermann (@B_Sommermann) September 5, 2019
Analysis: A very common theme in today’s edition of rumours, the player and team seem distant on term. A one-year deal to make sure the player is playing could work out well enough. It would give Philly a larger sample size for Konecny too and help in future discussions.
Why Philly may be more interested in this than the Avs or Flames is that Philly didn’t make the playoffs last year. Not only that, but they’re not as close to locks as the other two teams either. The Metro looks like a total dogfight this year with some of the top teams taking a step back. As well, some of the bottom teams took huge steps forward. The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers each acquired big-name talents, including the first and second overall picks.
Philly will want Konecny to be contributing for them right away and no doubt he feels the same. That is why if a longer deal can’t be reached it makes sense for a one-year deal. This way they can re-evaluate next year while also pushing to return to the playoffs this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Rumour: Lastly for NHL Rumours, Joe Smith of The Athletic broke down the Brayden Point situation. He mentioned that teammates are not worried about it, a bridge deal could be likely, and that there could be similarities to Nikita Kucherov‘s first deal.
Analysis: There are lots of things to unpack here, so let’s take it one point at a time. It seems like a good thing teammates aren’t worried about a deal getting done. It also makes sense. There was a rumour earlier in the year that Point had turned down an offer sheet because he wanted to stay in Tampa. So, that just means they need to agree on the right terms.
As well, Tampa’s big thing has been to sign bridge deals. Most of their young stars have done it and it’s how they have stayed so competitive for so many years. Trying to convince Point to take a shorter deal may work out in Tampa’s favour, unlike the past few teams, where they would rather lock up their young stars long-term.
Lastly, the comparison to the Kucherov deal would be in the sense that Point likely takes much less than he is worth for 2-3 years before signing a big-money deal. It may not be with the Lightning if they can’t afford it. However, the plan would be for the Lightning to reward Point on his next contract. Kucherov became the league’s highest-paid winger at the time of signing his new deal. While he has been passed, he still will be handsomely paid for the remainder of the contract. A potential deal like that could await Point as well.
That’s all for NHL Rumours, tune in every day for more!