September and the hockey season are looming. Just typing that sentence gets me excited. For a handful of fan bases though, the fact that training camps open in just a few weeks makes them a little nervous.
There is still a very talented list of RFA’s who are still sitting without contracts for the upcoming season, and today I’m going to focus on the defensemen who might not have contracts by the time training camp opens.
I work on an Edmonton radio station, so trust me when I say that the majority of Oilers fans are nervous about the fact Nurse doesn’t have a contract yet.
Given the injury to Andrej Sekera, I don’t expect this situation to result in a holdout. Nurse is simply too important to this Oilers blueline.
The last I heard, the sides are likely going to do a bridge-deal, although there’s always a chance that the injury to Sekera, and the fact that the Oilers can put him on LTIR, changes that.
EXPECTATION: A 2 year deal with a cap hit between $3.2 and $3.4 million.
ODDS OF A HOLD-OUT: I’ll say it’s more likely than the other case. 35% chance that he misses a regular season game.
I’m a big fan of Morrissey’s game, and while I’m less familiar with his situation than Nurse’s, I would still expect a bridge deal for the former Prince Albert Raider.
Morrissey did say earlier this week that he expects to have a deal in place before the season, but I’m not sure if that will happen.
While the Jets do have a boatload of cap space available for this coming season, they’ll be in tight next summer when Patrick Laine, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers all need new deals.
Kevin Cheveldayoff has to be very careful how he spends his money, and he has a history of going through holdouts with young defensemen (Jacob Trouba). I’ll say it’s slightly more likely that Morrissey holds out into the regular season, but still wouldn’t bet on it.
EXPECTATION: If they go bridge, I’d say a deal similar to what Brandon Montour got in Anaheim (2 years/$3.3 million). If they go long term, I would think somewhere around 5-6 years at just over $4 million.
ODDS OF A HOLDOUT: I’ve heard that the two sides have agreed to a bridge deal and are just waiting to see if they can get something long-term done. 5% chance of a holdout.
Looking for a bit of a culture change, the Flames acquired Hanifin earlier this summer, and the two sides still haven’t found a way to put pen to paper on a new deal, although I’ve heard it’s close.
Given the fact he’s newly acquired, there’s no doubt in my mind that both sides are going to get a deal done before the season ends.
Unlike the first two players I’ve mentioned, I wouldn’t be shocked if Hanifin and the Flames go long term with their next deal. Hanifin is young and coming off an all-star season, and the Flames clearly really like the former 5th overall pick.
The organization also has over $7 million in cap space for this season, and Matt Tkachuk is the only big name that needs a new deal next summer. They have the money to go long-term with their new defenseman.
EXPECTATION: I looked at deals that guys like Adam Larsson, Damon Severson, and John Carlson got earlier in their careers as comparables, then considered the fact that the salary cap is much higher. I think a 6 year deal with a cap hit of $4.5 million is fair for both sides.
ODDS OF A HOLDOUT: Given that the team just acquired him, Id imagine the two sides will do everything possible to get him ready for the season opener. 10% chance of a holdout.
I was stunned when Anaheim let Theodore go in the expansion draft. I’ve been a massive fan of his since he stepped into the league.
Considering how much cap flexibility Vegas has, I’m a little surprised that they haven’t gotten this one done yet. I’m not saying that they should just go throw extra money at all their players just for the sake of it, they still need to be smart about the contracts they give.
But it’s clear that the Knights value Theodore. During the playoffs, he was second on the team in both even strength and powerplay minutes. At just 23-years-old there is still plenty of room for him to grow, so I suspect Vegas will do everything in their power to keep him around.
EXPECTATION: With all these players being in similar situations, it shouldn’t shock anyone that I expect them to all get similar deals. If it’s a bridge deal for Theodore, expect it to be a 2-3 year deal worth between $3.1-$3.4 million. If it’s long-term, I would guess it’s a 6-8 year deal worth around $4.5 million.
ODDS OF A HOLDOUT: Again, Vegas has so much cap space that I can’t see them letting one of their best young defenseman miss a regular season game. 15% chance of a holdout.