We are less than two weeks away from the start of NHL training camps and there are still several key unrestricted free agents who haven’t signed new deals.
The Calgary Sun reported last week that the Flames and forward Johnny Gaudreau are $1.5 million (annually) apart in their negotiations, with Gaudreau’s agent, Lewis Gross, asking for an annual payday in the $8-million range. The Flames think Sean Monahan’s $6.375 million annual average and captain Mark Giordano’s $6.75 million AAV are more in the neighborhood.
In Winnipeg, little new information has emerged on RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba and that is no surprise if you know agent Kurt Overhardt’s typical M.O. While many agents say they don’t like discussing their client’s financial situations with the media, many do on the sly. Overhardt simply won’t do it and no amount of prodding will change his mind. Trust me, I’ve tried.
In Tampa, GM Steve Yzerman is hoping to get a deal done for Nikita Kucherov in the near future, per the Tampa Bay Times, and also needs to sign defenseman Nikita Nesterov.
In Anaheim, defenseman Hampus Lindholm and forward Rickard Rakell remain unsigned. In Arizona, Tobias Rieder and the Coyotes are less than $500,000 apart on an annual average. In Buffalo, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen doesn’t expect to re-sign before the World Cup ends and told Finnish news sources recently that the two sides haven’t talked at all lately.
In Dallas, Valeri Nichushkin has reportedly played the KHL card. The New York Islanders still haven’t signed forward Ryan Strome. And as for Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov, Washington Post beat writer Isabelle Khurshudyan told Today’s Slapshot’s Natural Hat Trick Podcast (around the 1:14 mark) recently that cap space could prevent the Caps from giving Orlov much of a raise.
Nobody is pushing the panic button yet. A lot of GMs and agents are in Toronto for the World Cup of Hockey. There is time left to work out deals, but if camps arrive and some of these players still have not signed, you can expect the rhetoric to ramp up several notches.
As the nation honors the fallen on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, here’s a sampling of images and tweets from around the league.
— Forward Kris Versteeg is headed to Edmonton on a PTO, per TSN’s Darren Dreger. The Oilers still may not be able to attract the league’s top free agents without overpaying, but hey, at least they’re attracting the NHL’s top PTO candidates. Versteeg, 30, was originally slated to make the jump over to the Swiss NLA for the 2015-16 campaign, but reported complications with insurance and/or his medical exam have led him back home.
— If your only source of NHL news is NHL.com, you’d think the only thing happening in the world is World Cup of Hockey exhibition games. I get that the league is heavily invested in this tournament, and it stands to profit nicely, but these aren’t just exhibition games, they’re exhibition World Cup of Hockey Games. Preseason NFL or NHL games are bad enough. The top headline on NHL.com on Sunday morning was “Team Canada responds with win.” Phew. I know we were all wondering about Canada’s psyche after their earlier exhibition loss to Team USA.
— Las Vegas will have Knights as part of its nickname, and red as one of its colors, owner Bill Foley told something called Sportsbook Radio in an interview on Friday. Is anyone else at the point where they don’t care any more? It’s not entirely Foley’s fault, but the Las Vegas name game has long since flown past fun, cruised past somewhat interesting and arrived at simply annoying. Besides, whatever name Foley chooses won’t be the best one available. It should have been Aces or Black Aces, but the league is hung up on some Puritan notion that gambling is evil. Whatever.
— Our very own Carolyn Wilke and Sean Tierney attended the second annual RIT Hockey Analytics Conference on Saturday. You can view a schedule of topics here, or better yet, check out their Twitter timelines for insights. Some day, they’ll hold one of these in the west…
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