Training camps are nearing across the National Hockey League, but there are still a handful of key restricted free agents without contracts.
Elliotte Friedman was asked to wade into those waters during a Friday morning radio hit on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960.
“I think in some situations they’re really not that close,” indicated Friedman. “For example, Nylander in Toronto - he’s represented by Lewis Gross, who represents Johnny Gaudreau and used to represent Craig Conroy.
“I’m a big believer in the surest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you look at Lewis Gross’ history and the way he’s done things, after his ELC there was a contract battle between Calgary and Gaudreau. It got settled eventually very well. Gaudreau did well, the Flames did well. Gaudreau got a record contract for people who had his leverage. And then if you take a look at where contracts have gone, it worked out really well for the Flames too.”
Gaudreau signed a six-year, $40.5 million contract in October of 2016, which carries a $6.75 million cap hit.
“He has Torey Krug,” continued Friedman. “After his ELC, similar situation. They had a big of a dispute and he sat out training camp. He also was with Marty St. Louis when St. Louis left Tampa for the Rangers.
“So he’s shown that he’s got a bit of a backbone there, and that’s kind of his playbook. I don’t think Nylander and Toronto are that close right now. I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, for example, Nylander was not in camp when Toronto broke next week. We’ll see. Things can always change, but I heard they weren’t that close. Deadlines spur action, but if guys aren’t signed by now, there’s a reason.”
The conversation remained on RFAs, with Friedman being asked if the biggest issue in Edmonton with Darnell Nurse still being unsigned was cap space.
“You know what? I don’t know if I agree with that,” considered Friedman. “I think if you believe a player is valuable - and I do believe that Darnell Nurse if valuable - then you’re going to find room for him.
“I think that it’s probably how they see his value now, bridge or long term. I don’t believe when you have a player that’s an important part of your team you’re going to say, ‘Cap space is an issue, we can’t sign you.’
“Now, you’re always going to want to say, ‘Hey, can you take a little bit less to help the team,’ but you’re not looking at a great player - and he’s a really key player for where they’re going to be - I don’t think you’re saying, ‘Hey, we can’t do it because of cap space.’”
Darren Dreger shared a few thoughts on the Nurse contract situation Thursday, feeling the Oilers were ‘pretty firm on $3 million.’
Cap-related info via CapFriendly