As the dog days of summer begin to simmer we wait for an end to contract negotiations for three of the top five picks from the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. It’s been nearly a week since we’ve heard anything on the Drew Doughty (2nd overall) front, while both Zach Bogosian (3rd overall) and Luke Schenn (5th overall) also remain restricted free agents.
Deals for Bogosian and Schenn seem imminent, as both players have expressed optimism with the media when asked about their status. Bogosian should be making the trek to Winnipeg with his former Atlanta Thrashers teammates once he and the Jets reach an agreement, while Schenn is waiting on a new deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. For what it’s worth, neither Bogosian or Schenn sound like they’re sweating the situation.
Bogosian is reportedly eager to get something done and head to the city of Winnipeg for the first time, but knows his role in the waiting game:
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been there so I can’t comment on the city, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about the city. I’m looking forward to going there.”
“Things [contract negotiations] are good. We’re talking. That’s about all I will say. You’ve just got to sit back and let the agents and GM deal with all that kind of stuff.”
It’s similar refrain from Schenn who, as James Mirtle reports, is hitting the weights with Shea Weber and waiting:
“There’s still lots of time until camp.”
“There’s still a lot of players out there that haven’t signed yet. Obviously it’s going to get done a little bit later, but it’s all going to work out.”
Things aren’t sounding so copacetic in California, though.
The Doughty situation is a particularly intriguing one, given the one-year $7.5 million deal awarded to his loosely comparable peer Shea Weber via arbitration, not to mention the five-year $37.5 million contract that 2008 1st overall pick Steven Stamkos secured in Tampa. L.A. Kings assistant Jack Ferreira has seen similar negotiation scenarios play out, and went as far to drop an H-bomb by alluding that the seemingly stalled Doughty talks could eventually reach holdout status.
“This year we were up in Toronto for the scouting combine and Dean had some meetings with Newport Sports (Doughty’s agents),” Ferreira said. “He came back and they were discussing what went on, and I just looked at him and said, ‘Dean, they don’t want to make a deal. They’re not ready to make a deal.’
“That’s gonna be a tough one. I would not be surprised if he was a holdout. I went through it with Paul Kariya, and Dean’s been through it.”
In the case of all three young stud defenders, determining an agreeable yet fair market value would appear to be the major sticking point. Albeit to a lower annual salary for Bogosian and Schenn. The Kings appear to be prepared to play some hardball with Doughty, although the holdout talk may be more of a negotiating tactic than anything. Doughty could cost the Kings in the range of $6-$7 million per year, perhaps more, and the team currently has under $10 million in cap space to play with.
If I were a betting man, I’d expect Schenn and Bogosian to wrap up their summers of waiting in the next 10 days or so… but this Doughty ordeal could take a little longer given the silence its presently shrouded in.
Other RFAs of note that are still awaiting new deals include Josh Bailey, Brad Marchand, and Kyle Turris.