July 1st hasn’t been the busiest of days for the Habs in recent years but there have still been some moves on those days. With free agency delayed, however, the news of the day instead comes from CBA-related discussions.
Today was supposed to be the day that we had some certainty when it came to the short-term future of Alexander Romanov. He has already agreed to terms on two entry-level contracts, one that would start this season and one that starts next. However, even though it’s allowed in the CBA, the NHL has remained steadfast in its assertion that no current-year contracts could be signed after the season was put on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the NHLPA intended to fight it, it appears they’ve instead used this as a bargaining chip in CBA extension talks. Now, the expectation is that players in Romanov’s case (which include Kirill Kaprizov in Minnesota, Ian Mitchell in Chicago, and Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders, among others) will not be allowed to suit up in the upcoming play-in round and postseason.
This isn’t necessarily the end of the ‘saga’ though. As things stand, July 1st is the deadline for players to sign a current-year contract before the start of the next league season; it’s normally June 1st but it had been extended by mutual agreement. In other words, there’s still technically a window where Romanov could sign today and burn a year of the contract without suiting up for a game. This is still being worked out between the NHL and NHLPA and it’s possible that another short-term extension could be granted. If not, then the earliest that Romanov’s deal could become official would be sometime in October when the free agent period opens up.
Another tidbit from the CBA talks (which are intertwined with the NHL’s Return to Play protocols) pertains to signing bonuses. Normally, those are paid on July 1st which represents the typical start of the league calendar but clearly, that’s not the case this year. Teams wanted to defer the payments until later on while the players felt they should get their money now. The players won out and those bonus payments are now due.
While Carey Price’s $8.75M signing bonus is the biggest of anyone on the team, his contract stipulates a September 1 payment date, notes Chris Johnston of Sportsnet so he’ll be waiting a little while yet for his. Assuming there aren’t any other different dates for bonus payments, the rest of Montreal’s bonuses due are as follows:
Jonathan Drouin: $2,000,000
Brendan Gallagher: $1,750,000
Karl Alzner: $1,500,000
Ben Chiarot: $1,000,000
Jeff Petry: $1,000,000
Tomas Tatar: $1,000,000 (9.43% of which is paid by Vegas)
Artturi Lehkonen: $200,000
Charlie Lindgren: $50,000
This list was restricted to anyone that was on Montreal’s roster at the end of the regular season but signing bonuses to players on entry-level deals are also due as well. A total of nine other players will receive bonuses between $50,000 and $92,500. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Ryan Poehling are among five set to receive the top end of that range. There are five others who normally would receive a signing bonus today but their deals don’t start until next season and technically, next season isn’t here yet so they may be waiting a little longer for their payments.
As for players that were slated to become free agents – headed by Max Domi on the RFA side and Dale Weise on the UFA side – an extension has been agreed upon to keep their contracts intact for the duration of the play-in round and postseason.
Lastly, while not official, it also appears as if the league is leaning towards Toronto and Edmonton as its hub cities. The original plan was to have teams play in the hub of the opposite conference (in other words, Montreal would play in the West) but as of right now, the intention appears to be that the East will play in Toronto. All of this, of course, is dependent on the NHL and NHLPA agreeing on final return protocols and there being no significant spikes of the virus that puts the plan in jeopardy.