With roughly a month to go until the start of NHL training camps, several notable restricted free agents remain without a contract.
Drew Doughty (LA Kings), Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins), Zach Bogosian (Winnipeg Jets), Luke Schenn (Toronto Maple Leafs), Josh Bailey (NY Islanders), Victor Oreskovich (Vancouver Canucks), Marc-Andre Gragnani (Buffalo Sabres), Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker (Phoenix Coyotes) have yet to reach terms with their respective clubs.
Topping the list is Doughty, who was thought to be a prime offer sheet candidate if still unsigned after July 1. It’s now mid-August and he has not received an offer sheet, so it’s highly unlikely he’ll get one at this point.
GM Dean Lombardi is reportedly willing to make the 21-year-old the highest-paid player on the Kings if the blueliner will ink a deal that takes him well past his eligibility age (25) for unrestricted free agency.
However, it’s believed the Doughty camp wants a shorter term to use his UFA eligibility four years from now to garner a more lucrative deal, either from the Kings or another club.
Talks appear to have stalled, which of course has given rise to baseless trade rumors.
It’s also sparked speculation Doughty will stage a holdout. This scenario has been fuelled by recent comments from Lombardi’s assistant Jack Ferreira, who said he “would not be surprised if he (Doughty) was a holdout.”
Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski suggested Ferreira’s comments may be “posturing from a Kings executive to put a little pressure on the Doughty camp” and pointed out how counterproductive holding out can be for the player and team, both in future negotiations and the upcoming season.
It’s also important to remember restricted free agents must re-sign with their clubs by Dec. 1 or become ineligible to play the remainder of the season. As a result, holdouts in recent years have been rare, especially for players of Doughty’s caliber.
As for the other restricted free agents, the “H” word hasn’t been mentioned.
Coyotes GM Don Maloney recently said contract talks with Turris and Boedker were ongoing and that he expected both to be in training camp with new deals.
As for Bailey, Oreskovich and Gragnani, there’s been little news regarding their negotiations.
In Bailey’s case it’s understandable why the process has dragged on for so long, as the Islanders were preoccupied with their recent failed attempt to win a referendum on construction of a new arena. Oreskovich and Gragnani won’t be expensive to re-sign and it’s not out of the ordinary for RFAs of their caliber to go unsigned until late in the summer.
It’s also worth pointing out this summer isn’t the first in which a notable restricted free agent has gone unsigned throughout most of the off-season.
At this point last year, talks between the Anaheim Ducks and RFA right winger Bobby Ryan had dragged on for weeks with little news of progress. As with Doughty, the sticking point with Ryan was term.
The apparent lack of progress in Ryan’s case resulted in the usual baseless trade and offer sheet rumors, as well as talk of a holdout.
Ultimately, Ryan agreed to a five-year deal on Sept. 14, in time to join his teammates at training camp.
It remains to be seen what Doughty, Marchand, Schenn, Bogosian and the rest get for new contracts, but most likely all will be inked before training camps open.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.