Updates on Nazem Kadri and Marcus Johansson, plus the latest on some notable unsigned unrestricted free agents.
SPORTSNET.CA: David Alter reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and center Nazem Kadri remain far apart in contract negotiations. Alter claimed the Kadri camp initially sought a six-year, $6 million per season contract but have since lowered the dollar amount down to $5 million per season “ as a means to help the Leafs with their current cap squeeze.” The Leafs, meanwhile, are interested in signing Kadri to a two-year, $6 million deal. Defenseman Cody Franson is also seeking a long-term contract, which explains why he didn’t file for salary arbitration this summer.
Following Alter’s report, Kadri responded via Twitter that it was “so inaccurate its actually humorous”, prompting Alter to reply he was going by what he was told and would be happy to set the record straight.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes if Kadri were being reasonable, the Maple Leafs would’ve re-signed him by now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Kadri is actually seeking $5 million or $6 million per season on a long-term deal, he’d better prepare for a long wait. With $4.9 million in cap space, the Leafs cannot afford to pay Kadri that much even if they wanted to, which I doubt.
While I don’t fault Kadri for pursuing an expensive long-term deal as a restricted free agent, he’s simply not worth that much, especially after a lockout-shortened season in which (as Alter points out) he managed only nine points in his final nineteen games (including the playoffs).
I consider the tw0-year, $6 million deal the Leafs are reportedly offering to be too high, especially given the Leafs cap concerns, though they could demote a lesser-talented player (Colton Orr, for example) to free up sufficient cap space. Two years, $2.4 million per season is plenty for Kadri. After that, if he builds on last season’s promise, he’ll be justified going for the big money.
Kadri has no leverage here except to stage a holdout, and as I’ve repeatedly noted, that tactic rarely works in today’s salary cap world.
CSN WASHINGTON: Brian McNally reports Capitals GM George McPhee, having signed UFA center Mikhail Grabovski, is now turning his attention to re-signing RFA winger Marcus Johansson before training camp opens next month. The Capitals have about $2.67 million in cap space. Neither side is speaking to the press about the status of negotiations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johansson is coming off an entry-level contract worth $900K per season. He had a career-best 46 points during his sophomore season, and despite being hampered by a concussion early last season finished with 22 points in 34 games. I’m guessing the Caps could offer a two year bridge contract worth up to $1.8 million per season.
SPORTSNET.CA: Luke Fox ranked Damien Brunner, Tim Thomas, Brenden Morrow, Ilya Bryzgalov, Brad Boyes, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Whitney, Ron Hainsey, Mason Raymond and Vinny Prospal as the best remaining unrestricted free agents.
BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont speculates “unless there’s a surprise involving Tim Thomas” he doubts the veteran goalie will be in an NHL camp next month, citing his former agent Bill Zito joining Columbus Blue Jackets management. Dupont suggests perhaps he could join the Blue Jackets camp to work out and keep his name out there.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson speculates the lessened mobility of former Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney is scaring off potential suitors. Matheson still believes Whitney has enough skills to land with another NHL team on a one-year, $1 million deal.