TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join host James Duthie to discuss if Matthew Tkachuk's deal means deals are coming for the remaining restricted free agents.
Status of Remaining RFA's
After a summer of pure tumbleweeds on the restricted free agency front, we are seeing them drop one-by-one-by-one, day-after-day right now. We had Brayden Point (sign), that led to Matthew Tkachuk now, Pierre, will Matthew Tkachuk lead to maybe the other three on the list.
LeBrun: I will say this. There have been discussions this week. Both between Patrik Laine and his camp and the Winnipeg Jets, and Mikko Rantanen and his camp and the Colorado Avalanche. So that is the positive. The negative is they haven’t closed the gap just yet. I believe the Jets recently offered a two-year deal, yes, a two-year bridge deal at around $6 million a year. My sense is that the Laine camp led by Mike Liut would rather be north of $7 million a year on a two-year bridge. So, still a gap right there. When it comes to Rantanen, they’ve been focused on a long-term deal. I think the Avs, earlier this month, were willing to do an $8.5 million a year. It’s going to have to start, I think, with a nine [million a year] for Rantanen to sign a seven-year deal and I suspect it will get done over the next couple of days.
McKenzie: And Kyle Connor continues his discussion with the Winnipeg Jets. Right now, they are probably looking at a six-year term. That’s suitable for both sides, but they’ve obviously not been able to agree on the money just yet. As of right now, not close is the word with negotiations between Kyle Connor and the Winnipeg Jets. Connor, as we mentioned the other day, might consider a four-year deal, much like Timmo Meier’s deal with the San Jose Sharks. But there doesn’t seem to be a strong appetite from Winnipeg’s side to go at the four-year deal. So, we’ll see if they can consummate that six-year marriage.
For those teams and all of the other teams that have all of their players signed , this is the time of year when they know what they have. And, perhaps more importantly, they know what they don’t have and what they are lacking on their roster which can lead to trades before the season or early in the season. Any possibilities?
Dreger: Yeah, Minnesota and Pittsburgh when I look at teams that are eager to get something done. You’ve got a rookie GM in Billy Guerin who is now general manager of the Minnesota Wild and he’s willing to be aggressive but he’s also a realist. He wants a top centre. Or a second-line centre. How do you acquire that piece? The Minnesota Wild have an abundance of wingers, they’ve got a good draft pile in terms of prospects, and they also have a good picks list as well. So, he’s willing to use all of that as bait. But, again, he’s also careful knowing that the market just doesn’t throw a player like that out there.
Pittsburgh will trade a defenceman. There’s been much speculation out there about Jack Johnson. That’s a tough contract to move, but Jimmy Rutherford will move one of his blueliners.
UFAs in 2020
As we get into the season and the months go on, we get closer and closer to TradeCentre. The bigger talk will come around the big-name unrestricted free agents next summer. Taylor Hall, if he doesn’t sign an extension with New Jersey, and right at the top of the list along with Hall if he is a free agent this summer would be Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators. They want to keep him. Can they?
LeBrun: I think they can. They’re going to have to move from where they are right now. There has been dialogue all summer but not a whole lot since training camp opened. I suspect where they are is this. I think the Predators are willing to go to $8.5 million a year with Roman Josi on a long-term deal. But I think the Josi camp would like to see a number that starts with a nine. I think they want to see this guy become the third-highest paid defenceman in the NHL behind Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson and why not? He arguably is the third-best defenceman in the NHL. I suspect this will get done. But the fact that it hasn’t yet with the season around the corner is quite interesting.
McKenzie: St. Louis Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo is another guy that falls in that same category as Josi. He’s a pending UFA at the end of this season. Fascinating situation in St. Louis right now. They just traded for Justin Faulk, they signed him to a seven-year extension worth $6.5 million [average annual value, total of $45.5 million]. Now, questions are being asked ‘what about the capitain? What about Alex Pietrangelo?’ He wants to stay in St. Louis. Is he going to get a contract? And how are they going to allocate all of that ice time for right-shot defencemen including Pietrangelo, (Colton) Parayko and Justin Faulk. The expectation is Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will meet with Pietrangelo’s representatives when St. Louis is in Toronto early in the regular season. We’ll see if they can get a deal done here. But Faulk’s mere presence there maybe gives Armstrong a little bit of leverage in terms of what he wants to do.
CBA and Olympics
A lot of peace and love and positivity surrounding CBA talks as of late but one thing has not changed, Dregs?
Dreger: No and that is the National Hockey League’s position on the Olympics. The NHL does not want to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. That’s a bit surprising given the fact that China is an untapped market. Big agents want the players back there. The Players’ Association wants to go back to the Olympics because of that revenue stream. But this is all position. Of course it’s being talked about in CBA discussions as is the entire international calendar. But the NHL, the Players’ Association need the IOC to step up. If the IOC steps up, then the NHL goes back.