Suitors set to line up for Da Costa

Paris, France native and Merrimack College standout Stephane Da Costa is heading to Toronto on Monday and figures to have an NHL contract as early as Wednesday, according to a story from CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.

Da Costa’s NCAA season came to an end on Saturday following Merrimack College’s upset loss to Notre Dame in playoffs. The 21-year old is coming off of back-to-back 45-point seasons with Merrimack College in Hockey East, and could be destined for a second straight World Championship appearance with France. Several NHL teams are reportedly interested in signing Da Costa, but as Friedman stated – any deal with Da Costa would have to be a multi-year contract and a year would be burned if he were to play a game in the NHL this season.

Clubs rumoured to be interested in acquiring the 2010 Hockey East rookie of the year include Anaheim, Boston, Minnesota, Nashville, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.

Da Costa reportedly turned down multiple offers from NHL clubs following the end of the 2010 season with Merrimack, but opted to return to Massachusetts for his sophomore season. The skilled forward will have many options, but his choices could be hampered by team’s ability to maneuver the CBA according to Friedman’s story:

What really might determine his final destination is Da Costa’s willingness to be flexible. His contract structure will be the same as those taken in the 2010 entry draft: a $900,000 base salary; eligible for up to $2.85 million in bonuses. Since the 2011-12 NHL season is the last in this current CBA – unless there’s a surprise extension by July 1 – all player bonuses count immediately.

Therefore, if Da Costa took the full bonus structure, he’d have a $3.75-million cap hit for next season – just like Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin for example. That would probably prevent him from signing with, say, Boston or Pittsburgh. So if he really wants to go to one of those teams, he’ll have to drop some of those bonuses.

Unless a club is willing to sacrifice a year of his rights for a few games, Da Costa likely won’t make his NHL debut until next season. We’ll keep you updated on any developments as Da Costa begins listening to offers.