William Nylander and Nick Ritchie remain unsigned, with each of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks having already played their first games of the season Wednesday evening.
NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman provided his latest thoughts on the pair of restricted free agents during a Thursday afternoon appearance on NHL Network.
“The Nick Ritchie one is the one that’s going a bit under the radar because it’s not in the microscope of Toronto,” noted Friedman. “The one thing is I always say that things can change. You always hate to come on and make definitive statements because all it takes is one side to say, ‘Enough of this. We’re going to make a deal, and that’s it.’
“The Nick Ritchie one, I’ve heard, has been a very, very tough negotiation. You’ve got Bob Murray, who’s a tough GM, and you’ve got Pat Morris, who’s a tough agent - two guys who can really get in a trench and battle it out. I think that’s kind of what’s been happening.
“One of the things I heard is you’ll remember last year in Columbus - Josh Anderson, the Blue Jackets wanted term, a three-year deal. The agent and the player didn’t want a three-year deal, but Columbus just didn’t budge. They had all the leverage, and they said, ‘No, we want some certainty,’ and I think that’s kind of what’s happened in Ritchie’s case - Anaheim wants some certainty, and I think the player wants shorter term than that, and that’s where they’re stuck.
“On Nylander, I think it’s been that Nylander has been asking for Draisaitl-area money, because I think he’s concerned that once Matthews and Marner sign they’ll be way ahead of him, sort of like Connor McDavid and Draisaitl in Edmonton.
“I do believe that both sides were talking about a long-term deal, and I do believe that at some point they started talking about something a little less - maybe four years - but on AAV I think they are still pretty far apart. I think the Maple Leafs would like this to be under 6.5, and right now the Nylander side is not anywhere close to that.”
Both Ritchie and Nylander are coming out of their respective entry-level contracts.
McDavid’s cap hit for the Oilers is $12.5 million, while Draisaitl’s is $8.5 million.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly