HabsWorld.net -- 

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
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.