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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
By now, we've all wondered aloud as to why Carey Price has not yet re-signed with the Habs. Of course, there's still plenty of time to do so (and I expect he will before camp) but that's not the point of this piece. Upon scanning through the remaining players still to sign, there's a notable trend that Price is a part of that could explain the holdup.
I can't remember a year where there was a bumper crop of quality RFA's still available like this one. Consider the following names along with Price that remain unsigned and what they might have in common:
F Nicklas Bergfors (NJ/ATL): 21-23-44 in 81 games
(Signed 1 year, $900k deal)
F Andrew Cogliano (EDM): 10-18-28 in 82 games
(Signed 1 year, $1 M deal)
F Sam Gagner (EDM): 15-26-41 in 68 games
(Signed 2 year, $4.55 M deal)
F Martin Hanzal (PHX): 11-22-33 in 81 games (Signed 2 year, $3.6 M deal)
F Patric Hornqvist (NSH): 30-21-51 in 80 games
(Signed 3 year, $9.25 M deal)
F Peter Mueller (PHX/COL): 13-24-37 in 69 games (Signed 2
year, $4 M deal)
F James Neal (DAL): 27-28-55 in 78 games (Signed 2
year, $5.75 M deal)
D Matt Niskanen (DAL): 3-12-15 in 74 games (Signed 2 year,
$3 M deal)
F Bobby Ryan (ANA): 35-29-64 in 81 games
(Signed 5 year, $25.5 M deal)
D Marc Staal (NYR): 8-19-27 in 82 games (Signed 5
year, $19.875 M deal)
F Chris Stewart (COL): 28-36-64 in 77 games
(Signed 2 year, $5.75 M deal)
Aside from being players that the Habs could use, here's what they have in common with Montreal's lone remaining restricted free agent:
- All are 23 years old and under;
- All are coming off their entry-level contracts;
- All had no arbitration rights.
In the past few years, we've seen players in this situation sign long-term deals, buying out most, if not all of the player's arbitration years and some UFA years. Examples of this include Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Paul Stastny, and for some odd reason, Rostislav Olesz. This year, not one RFA has signed a deal beyond 4 seasons. Finally, the owners and GM's appear to be putting their collective feet down while saying enough is enough. Some of the aforementioned players (not Price) are reportedly seeking deals of that variety but it appears they'll be waiting a long time to get such a contract.
"So what does this have to do with Price?," you may ask. We all cringe at the possible thought of a domino effect but it's safe to say there is one in this situation. Everyone's waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop and that includes Price. Some of these players will have to be the first to sign - if they go short-term, those still waiting lose some leverage in shooting for a long-term deal that no one else seems to sign. If the GM's/owners cave and sign the long-term pact for some of these players, then you'll see a greater push for the longer-term deal from those still unsigned, which could really delay the process.
Right now though, the waiting game continues on both sides and probably for good reason (the Habs aren't exactly known for being trend setters when it comes to free agency). A popular saying is to "let the market play itself out." It surely will (it always does), it's just taking a lot longer than usual this offseason. Fear not fans, Price's deal, as well as all the others (heck, one other player eligible for this list signed while I was writing this piece, Bryan Little in Atlanta) will all get done...eventually. Just don't be surprised if it takes a little while longer before Price puts pen to paper.
- Tonight: Live Q & A session with the Bulldogs' PBP team posted by B. La Rose