So it’s now September and there are way too many restricted free agents unsigned. The major ones include Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs), Patrik Laine (Jets), Mikko Rantenen (Avalance), Brayden Point (Lightning), Brock Boeser (Canucks), Charlie McAvoy (Bruins), and Zach Werenski (Blue Jackets). There seem to be two main reasons for why this is dragging out, deadlines and market setting.
Players And Teams Are Waiting For The Market To Be Set
One of the major reasons players and GM’s are reluctant to complete a deal is that they don’t want to be the ones to set the market. For instance, if Brayden Point signs first, then that sets the market for the guys arguably above and below him. It’s advantageous for both sides, players and teams, to wait. If the market is set low, teams benefit, if the market is set high, the player will benefit. Hence the waiting game we find ourselves in. At some point someone has to go first, but when will that be? That leads us to issue number two.
Signing Deadline Day
Negotiating 101…don’t blink unless you have to. There is almost no incentive for either side to blink at this point as there isn’t a real deadline approaching. Both sides are, or at least appear to be, content waiting. Some seem ready to miss training camp or part of the regular season. This is ‘ok’ because as long as the RFA is signed by 12/1/19 they are eligible to play the rest of the season. (See William Nylander 2018). If they do not come to terms by the first of December, they are not able to play this season at all.
How Do We Fix This?
The solution is a simple one that would benefit both player and teams alike. Change the deadline day to September 1st, meaning if you don’t sign a deal by then, you can’t play the season. With this deadline, it allows the entire summer for negotiating and won’t drag contract issues into the regular season. Players will get the benefit of full training camp and preseason and be able to start the year fully prepared, and not worrying about their contracts. There is no benefit that we can see to having the deadline dragged into the season. It creates animosity between players and teams as both want the player to be on the ice, not practicing in Europe, or with a college team somewhere. Get it done NHL and NHLPA, simple fix that can be agreed upon by both sides!!