A Tale of Three RFA Defensemen

Drew Doughty has still not signed a new contract with the Los Angeles Kings. We mentioned last week that he apparently rejected a nine-year, $61.2 million offer from the Kings a while ago. Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi tried to sound optimistic when discussing the Doughty situation this weekend, but it didn’t seem all that positive.

“I still have hope he’ll be here Friday. I don’t know if I expect it but I have hope,” said Lombardi.

“It’s better than no hope.”

That doesn’t sound all that great. Yes, it means that Doughty coming back to the Kings is still a possibility, but it doesn’t seem like this is a situation that is going to resolve itself quickly… or cheaply. So what’s the problem?

“You can figure out the problem. It’s how much and length,” continued Lombardi. “That’s the two issues.”

Those are two pretty big issues. If there’s an issue with the term, it’s likely that Doughty wants a shorter term deal. There’s no way he could actually want something longer than nine years, is there? Doughty is not even 22 years old yet and he’s already an excellent talent. He probably doesn’t want to give away too many years of unrestricted free agency on this contract, which is likely exactly what the Kings want him to do. That will be a sticking point between the player and the team.

But Doughty isn’t the only RFA defensemen still looking for a deal.

Luke Schenn currently does not have a new contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs either. However, according to the Toronto Star, “there is no sense of panic on either side.” The Leafs have a relatively stable group of defensemen, but you’d have to assume that they’d want Schenn on their team when the season starts.

“Luke’s a good player and a great kid and we value him highly,” said Brian Burke recently, “but fixing a value on that isn’t always simple.”

According to the Toronto Sun, another meeting between the Leafs and the Schenn camp is expected to take place early this week and Brian Burke feels that a deal will eventually be done. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen.

Zach Bogosian of the Winnipeg Jets is another big RFA defensemen who doesn’t yet have a contract with his team. He is, however, skating with the Jets at the team’s practice facility wearing a Winnipeg practice jersey. Whether or not that means anything in regards to his contract situation is unknown, but it probably doesn’t. However, training camp is coming up and if Bogosian wants to keep hitting the ice with the rest of the Jets, he’ll need to sign a contract sooner or later.

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press recently speculated that Bogosian has no problems with playing in Winnipeg and that the lack of a contract is “all about the money.” If that’s the case, there could be a problem. The Jets have the second-lowest payroll in the National Hockey League, just above the New York Islanders. While that means they have a lot of cap space, it doesn’t look like team management is very willing to throw cash around this offseason.

“Bogosian, for me, is someone I hope to build our defence around,” said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff a while ago.

It now looks like the Jets will have to open their wallets a bit if they hope to have Bogosian’s name on a contract. But what could he want? And what about Schenn? What is he asking for? And Doughty? No one knows.

This is a summer where we’ve seen more than a few players sign ridiculous contracts. Yes, most of those deals were signed by UFAs so the situation is different, but that doesn’t mean the expectation of a huge deal isn’t still there. When you’re dealing with young, talented players you often end up overpaying for potential, which could be the case with these three defensemen.