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According to video released by Joe Smith of The Athletic, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois spoke to fans Sunday and noted he is “very optimistic” about getting Brayden Point re-signed.
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Tampa Bay Lightning, forward, Brayden Point
Lightning forward Brayden Point (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)
He said he didn’t believe there was a reason to panic, that things have been cordial, there is an ongoing dialogue and both sides really want to make it work in Tampa.
According to Luke Fox of Sportsnet, Point’s agent, Gerry Johannson has said that Point is open to a variety of contract terms, anything from a two-year bridge deal to a five-year Matthews-type deal to an eight-year lockup.
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The Latest on Mikko Rantanen
Finding ways to save money when it comes to Mikko Rantanen is not something GM Joe Sakic is concerned with thanks to a ton of cap space in Colorado. “It’s not something we’re worried about. He’s going to be here a long time,” Sakic said.
Colorado Avalanche Executive Vice President Joe Sakic
Colorado Avalanche Executive Vice President Joe Sakic (Photo by RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images)
What appears to be more the concern is if Rantanen signs for a high-priced deal that is well beyond what Nathan McKinnon is making. While McKinnon is a steal of a deal in the NHL, if you sign Rantanen for $10.5 million, the concern out of Colorado is, are you really ok with indirectly asserting that Rantanen is 40 percent more valuable?
The players on the Avalanche know this is a tough spot for Rantanen because he wants to be in Colorado but has to get fair value for the production he’s been providing the team. Captain Gabriel Landeskog told the Denver Post Sunday. “As much as he’d like to be here, he can’t go out and sign an eight-year deal at $1 million a year just to be nice.”
Rantanen’s absence doesn’t seem to be a distraction though. Mike Chambers of the Denver Post writes:
Rantanen, 22, has missed the first three days of Avalanche training camp, including Friday and Saturday’s on-ice sessions, because he doesn’t have a contract as a restricted free agent coming out of the three-year, entry-level deal. But he’s the last guy who would ever disrupt the Avs’ locker room over a salary dispute.
source – ‘Chambers: Mikko Rantanen’s agents might have him locked up and gagged during contract negotiations’ – Mike Chambers – Denver Post – 09/15/2019
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Matthew Tkachuk Wants a Five-Year Deal
If what Tkachuk said in February still holds true today. Fox reports that Tkachuk is looking for a five-year deal out of the Calgary Flames similar to the one Auston Matthews signed.
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Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk
Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)
GM Brad Treliving has confidence that he will get his player signed but it will likely end with Tkachuk becoming the Flames’ highest-paid player. That means, because of limited cap space, Treliving has reportedly entertaining trade offers for roster players like Michael Frolik and T.J. Brodie.
Treliving noted that the Marner contract would not impact the Tkachuk talks.
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Patrick Laine Goes to Switzerland
Laine is currently training in Switzerland with SC Bern as his agent and Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff try to find a contract solution. The Jets are rumored to have offered a bridge deal of three years at around $5 million per season. Laine said of his decision, “Obviously a great organization and great city, so it was an easy choice to come here.”
Patrik Laine Winnipeg Jets
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Speculation is that Laine is not opposed to a shorter-term deal banking on the fact that two or three strong years will set him up to hit a home run on the next deal.
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It was the shot heard ’round the hockey world, a Patrik Laine howitzer that rattled off the bar in Finland and clanged down Portage Avenue past the Perimeter, all the way to the Iceplex.
The Finnish forward may still be without a contract, but he made his presence felt at Jets training camp on Tuesday.
That’s what happens when you throw some shade on your teammates and coaches, as Laine did in an interview with a Finnish reporter.
The high-scoring winger, a restricted free agent embroiled in a contract stalemate with the Jets, suggested he’d be used differently and likely be more productive if he were with another team and had better linemates.
“When you’re having contract negotiations, one thing always is who are you playing with,” Laine told the newspaper Iltalehti. “With the merits I have, somewhere else I’d have an opportunity to play with the best players. Everybody who understands hockey knows that.
“There are top lines and then there is our line. But I play with the guys I’m told to play.”
Laine’s comments indicate he’s not thrilled with how head coach Paul Maurice employs him on the Jets second line with Bryan Little as his centre.
It doesn’t reflect well on Little, either.
Maurice did his best to shrug it all off to just a young, talented player wanting more ice time and a bigger role.
“Here, over the last two years, we’ve had three really, really young players,” Maurice said, referring to Laine, Kyle Connor and Nik Ehlers. “We can all do the math on that. That means two of them are going to be on one line and one’s going to be on the other. And he would be 100 percent right… there’s nine other forwards that wouldn’t mind playing a little left wing on that line. I get that. Everybody wants it.
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“I’ll use my driver’s license analogy: nobody gets the keys at 14.”
Laine is coming off a season that saw his goal total dip from 44 to 30. He scored 18 of them in 12 games in November, and had long slumps after that.
Maurice tried to give him a boost with a brief stint on the top line with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele, beginning in late February. He also dropped Laine down to a fourth line for a time.
So this topic isn’t new.
Neither is the notion of Little and Laine being a less-than-ideal match. The Jets have spent the last two trade deadlines paying steep prices for second-line centres.
The one thing that is new: Laine usually just blames himself.
“I can handle the shade,” Maurice said. “That part’s not going to bother me a whole hell of a lot. The individual experience is secondary to the team experience.”
The captain of that team found himself fielding difficult questions about a teammate he’d rather be passing pucks to on the power play, if not as a regular linemate.
“He spends a good deal of time with that top unit on the power play,” Wheeler said of the 21-year-old Laine. “He’s a young kid that’s had a lot of success in three years. He’s definitely not doing it by himself, I can guarantee you that. It’s a great trait to have to want more ice time, more playing time. Those are all good things.”
Wheeler read mostly from his coach’s play book, and suggested Laine’s comments might have been borne out of frustration of being on the sidelines.
At one point he said Laine is still “growing up, on and off the ice.”
Wheeler acknowledged his job as captain includes helping players accept their roles and buy in to the team concept.
But he brushed aside the notion this could make his job harder, or that he had to reach out to Laine.
“It’s a non-issue today,” Wheeler said. “None whatsoever. I’m sure there’s parts of that that are not exactly how he meant it and blown out of proportion. Just knowing Patty it’s not something where he’s trying to get his name in the newspaper. It’s not a big deal. We’ll wake up tomorrow with new headlines.
“This is just something I’ve become accustomed to doing around here.”
Through five days, there’s been no shortage of headlines.
The stir caused by Laine, amid his and Connor’s ongoing contract impasses, is just the latest in a training camp news cycle that’s included Wheeler’s own acknowledgement of the personal toll last season took on him, a car crash sidelining up-and-comers Sami Niku and Kristian Vesalainen for three days and the unexpected personal leave of absence for Dustin Byfuglien.
“What’s that quote about rough seas making a good sailor?” Maurice said. “Something like that. But I haven’t felt it in the room. It’s been good, guys are working their asses off. Players got a little bit of turbulence, maybe, outside the jet. But inside the jet it’s good.”
That may be. We’re not allowed in, after all.
But eventually the team’s got to step out and play. And then we’ll find out if everything’s good, like they say.
Just like we found out last spring.