The Rangers weekend that was. Ryan Reaves was signed to a one-year extension. Nick Ritchie inked a two-year deal with Toronto. Jack Eichel's agents and the Sabres engaged in a public tete and Larry Brooks pushed the Eichel agenda.
If someone would like to explain the rush to add a year at the same $1.75 million onto Reaves current deal that expires at the end of the season, I would love to understand it. Would he play any less hard if his contract was up? Don't think so. Reaves did not have an NMC or NTC, so he did not have to be coerced to come to NY, so the need for the extra year as a possible incentive was removed. I get that he will be good in the clubhouse and a protector on the ice - when he plays - but why lock up salary now when Igor Shesterkin needs to be paid, Adam Fox will have a long-term deal. Mika Zib might sign an extension and Jack Ecihel is a possibility. The money isn't a lot but every dollar in a flat cap counts.
Ritchie to Toronto:
Two years, $2.5 mil AAV. A steal. Remember a week ago when the panci was Ritchie would want a four-year deal and might want between $3-4 million? Clearly, that was a misnomer. I like Barclay Goodrow, I really would have loved Ritchie at this price point. Getting Reaves and Goodrow would not have precluded adding Ritchie, despite the logjame it might have created because Ritchie could have played up and down the lineup, adding 12-18 goals. Now, maybe he did only want to sign in Toronto, but missing out on him is a big loss, though not as big as the Bruins just letting him walk.
The two sides are playing a public battle. If you are pro-management, your view is likely not swayed. If pro-player, the same. But the longer this goes and the more acrimony that exists, it's hard to see the Sabres getting what they want, especially as GM Kevyn Adams plays a dangerous game with the media.
John Vogl wrote this weekend in the Athletic:
Adams has not heard an offer he finds suitable for the three-time All-Star. The Wild dropped out of trade talks because they’re “fed up with the asking price from the Buffalo,” according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo. Reports from other NHL cities, including New York, have made similar claims about Adams’ substantial demands.
“We’re in control of this process,” Buffalo’s general manager said Thursday. “We have a player under contract.” Adams’ comments led to the joint statement from Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli, Eichel's agents below
This is one of the cruxes of their statement: Eichel’s agents condemned the Sabres’ inability to trade Eichel, claimed they reneged on an agreement to let him have his preferred neck surgery and said Buffalo is derailing the 24-year-old’s career. To help support their case, Dr. Chad Prusmack, part of Eichel’s medical team, did a podcast with Elliotte Friedman explaining the medical procedure and why it's viewed as the best option for Eichel's long-term health and recovery.
The longer this goes, the less likely Eichel will be ready for the start of the season. Eichel’s camp has been told recovery would take two to three months. The 2021-22 season is scheduled to begin Oct. 12. Having surgery tomorrow, let's say, puts Eichel as a maybe for the start of the season and likely out the month of October. Every day he waits, is another day into the season before he is ready. The next step in the medical dispute could involve the NHL and NHL Players’ Association, though that will also be a several month process.
If Adams is attempting to get full value in return, going in this direction is not helping. Right now, the acquiring team is taking on all the risk, given the uncertainty of Eichel's return date and surgery itself. The stare down continues while the other GMs just wait.
Brooks weighed in with his view on what the Rangers should offer in his Slapshots column:
If Chris Drury is confident he will be able to reach such an agreement with Mika Zibanejad (in the $9 million range), that’s when he and the Rangers would have license to include Kaapo Kakko as the blue-chip centerpiece of an offer for Eichel (presuming Buffalo eats 50% of the annual salary, making the hit $5 mil a year), which might include either Filip Chytil or Vitaly Kravtsov, as well as Zac Jones or Matthew Robertson or a first-rounder.
I get what Brooks is saying, the reduction of the cap hit from $10 to $5 million, allowing Zib to return, increases the package going to Buffalo. Of course this presumes that Adams is willing to take on that much of the salary. In addition, if this deal occurs before the surgery, is Vegas still offering Reilly Smith, Peyton Krebs, Nic Hague and the one, as was rumored? What about Minnesota, who have already stepped away, with Matthew Boldy and Marco Rossi as the centerpieces of the deal? We know how good Eichel is and can be and I know many will just say move Kakko. But if you think he is on the verge of becoming the player you thought you were getting at #2 overall two years ago, then moving an asset of that sort to me is an overpayment, though I may be in the minority.
17 players fled for arbitration today.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so suspring, Igor Shesyerkin was not one of them. Shesh not filing on the face of it would not normally be a problem, but these are not normal times.
If you are a glass half-full person, Shesterkin not filing could be an indication that a deal is near. Maybe a two-year deal, but also, hopefully. longer-term one, maybe in the five-year, $25-$28 million range. That would be the ideal.
But if you are a glass half-empty person, you could be right and that's the scary scenario. As Rick Carpinello reported last week, Artemi Panarin and Shesterkin were “livid” about the Pavel Buchnevich trade. Couple that with the slight delay in the Czar originally coming over and the constant concerns that he might want to return to Russia, prompting the belief that a longer-term deal was needed, and you have a situation rife for concern. In addition, in the draft, Drury was rumored to have interest in Sebastian Cossa, who went one pick before the Rangers when Detroit traded up to acquire. Could that interest by New York have been due to concerns about whether Shesterkin will remain above and beyond the quality of the prospect? Time will tell.