NHL teams employ new concept when dealing with RFAs: Common sense

With just over a month left before the puck drops on the new season, RFA forward Nic Bergfors and the Thrashers are still yet to bridge the gap in their ongoing contract negotiations. General manager Rick Dudley stated last week that the two parties “are not close” to a new deal. Bergfors is the last remaining Thrashers RFA needing to be signed.

But as Ken Campbell of The Hockey News tells us, Bergie isn’t alone in this little predicament. Players like Carey Price, Bobby Ryan, James Neal and Marc Staal and others are still yet to ink new deals with their respective teams.

Niclas Berfors is not alone in being a still et to be signed RFA (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Niclas Berfors is not alone in being a still et to be signed RFA (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The reason for this, according to Campbell, is because teams around the league are beginning to employ a novel new concept when it comes to locking down these players as they enter into their playing primes. Its something called…common sense.

Campbell explains, “In particular, their dealings with players coming off entry level contracts is far more in line with what they were trying to accomplish when they locked the players out six years ago. While some teams continue to sign outlandish deals they have no intent on seeing through with older free agents, they seem to have grasped the concept that they have young players where they want them and are using the leverage to their advantage.”

He also points out that the expiration of the current CBA in 2012 has a lot to do with why so many players are not getting more than two-year deals even when they are signed. In the case of the Atlanta Thrashers, Bryan Little was the exception to that rule as he received a contract that spans three seasons.

Rick Dudley seems to be one of those practicing this new-fangled common sense strategy. He let it known earlier this summer that he was going to make offers to free agents based upon the position or role of that player. He placed a value on it, sent it to them and has apparently not wavered far from that guideline.

You know, kinda like what you and I do when we sit down to create a household budget. Stick with it and you find there’s enough money to not only see you through, but maybe there’s some extra down the road when you may really need it. Stray from it by giving into to impulse and…well, the results are usually un-good.

Not even having a budget and living off borrowed money…even worse.

For some… like Eric Bolton, Ondrej Pavelec, Jim Slater and Andrew Ladd…the terms were acceptable. For others, not so much…see also Maxim Afinogenov and Pavel Kubina. Now I guess you can also count Nic Bergfors in with the latter grouping.

However, unlike UFAs Afinogenov and Kubina, Bergie has fewer options at his disposal given his RFA status. He can either take what the Thrashers are offering or choose to hold out in hopes of something better. However, if opts to sit out, he can only do so through November because come December 1 he’s not eligible to play for the rest of the season.

So like others around the league, when dealing with young players coming off their initial contracts…even with such promising ones like Bergfors who put up impressive numbers last year…Dudley hasn’t gotten, as Campbell puts it, “all goofy” trying to tie up an RFA. Instead, he’s employed a fiscally responsible game plan and held firm.

Sure, some may think this is the team being “cheap” or “low-balling”, but a few years down the road it could prove the wise path to take, keeping them out of serious cap issues. The same issues that the Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames now find themselves in, just to name a few.

Common sense and fiscal responsibility…what a novel concept.

99 comments Add your comment

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

Politically, I am ready for some real “hope and change back” in two months so that, fiscally speaking, things will only be really bad instead of catastrophic.

Rawhide

September 2nd, 2010
12:41 pm

five-hole – Thanks for taking that discussion “outside”. I mean that sincerely, my friend.

Just about everyone who frequents this blog knows which way I lean in the winds of politics, and I certainly do not mind the occasional political/social references. But even though I do allow a good deal of latitude on what’s bantered about here, we must remember this is a blog dedicated to the Thrashers and hockey in general…and try to keep it somewhat in those bounds.

Now, if anyone wants to delve deeper into such topics with a fellow blog commenter, please let me know and I’ll be happy to facilitate the swapping of contact info so it can be done outside.

SomaAtl95

September 2nd, 2010
12:52 pm

Thanks Rawhide – I went on a mass Facebook deleting spree the other night because I go there to connect with friends and muse on life and lately it has become a place for people to talk/rant/complain about politics. If thats what this blog turned into I would hate to stop visiting here as well. I’m not saying anyone did it today but when it comes to that discussion common sense and basic respect for your fellow citizen flies out the door when people disagree.

The only way politics should ever be mentioned in a Hockey blog is if we go to war with Canada. I’d suggest the first 6 places to drop bombs on (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa) and then we’d have an interesting season ahead of us :)

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
12:53 pm

tweet – Chicago_Wolves Wolves Open Training Camp On Sept. 27: The Chicago Wolves will begin training camp in preparation for their 17th s… http://bit.ly/b50rTW

Is that the same main camp open day as the Thrashers? Or are they a week earlier?

Rawhide

September 2nd, 2010
12:56 pm

The only way politics should ever be mentioned in a Hockey blog is if we go to war with Canada.

SomaAtl95 – Didn’t the boys of South Park get us into a war with our neighbors to the north already? :grin:

SomaAtl95

September 2nd, 2010
12:59 pm

Yes Rawhide, but that was about freedom of speech, and stuff… :) God I love this blog. One of my favorite episodes of south park is when Stan has to coach a pee-wee hockey team and they are destroyed by the red wings. Matt and Trey must have really disliked Detroit to make them that ruthless…

SomaAtl95

September 2nd, 2010
1:01 pm

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
1:07 pm

I don’t want a lot of political discussion here, either. A spurt of comments here and there, like RH said, is one thing and let’s keep it to that.

However, politics do affect the sports scene and there is no way around that. Such as the general economic climate being a large factor in people’s decisions on buying tickets and going to the venues. The relative value of one currency vs another. Difficulties in obtaining work/residency visas. “East/West” relations. Or, considering the sometimes irrational zeal of our northern neighbors for all things hockey, “North/South” relations may sometimes matter just as much lol! National pride comes into play in world or Olympic competitions. NHL vs KHL has a certain political component.

And so forth….

R. Stroz

September 2nd, 2010
1:07 pm

Hopefully Dudley is offering Bergfors more than Mr. Hankey.

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
1:14 pm

Mr. Hankey = who?

Christy

September 2nd, 2010
1:30 pm

For those interested….Puck Daddy has the Thrashers preview up…http://yhoo.it/9Qz7Rb
and the run of ever-present original and insightful comments has begun…

R. Stroz

September 2nd, 2010
1:32 pm

kracker – It’s a South Park reference.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu4AuQA50pg

AThrashrfan13

September 2nd, 2010
1:33 pm

Enough with the politics already!

I come in here to talk aout the silliness of a gam we are all crazy about….not t dicuss the silly and useless bureaucrats that run out country.

First off, someone earlier was quotig the New Your Post like it was gospel. The New York Post is a TABLOID….not unlike the National Enquirer or the STAR. If the NYP writers were any good, they be with a more reputable publication.

FIVE HOLE: Yes, we do hve some holes in our offense, but remember: (1) Camp has no started yet; (2) A deal has already been worked out in Cormier’s case. If he was going to jail, Dudley would not be as high on him or waste his time talking him up in the press; (3) Burmistov is supposed to be in INCREDIBLE shape as far as size, working his ass off since the draft to make the weight; (4) Therev are a bunch of teams that are over the cap…..not including the Devils who soon will be….that will need to unload to get under the cap. Dudley, if nothing else, is proactive. He’s probably got some trades all lined up in the event that the holes in offense remain at the end of camp.

Also, sevealcomments were made that at one time we were under the floor and now we are simply under the cap. Currently we are at 43.72…..still under the cap at 44 mil plus.

I think this team is going to surprise many this season. Do I think we’ll be in the playoffs? Possibly. What is more certain is that we are not going t be the doormat of the NHL this year. Visiting teams are going to HATE playing in our house.

Smoothie

September 2nd, 2010
1:35 pm

Speaking of economics that impact the NHL, check out the latest from Larry Brooks:

@NYP_Brooksie: #NHLPA exec board defers vote on Don Fehr as ExecDir after receiving employment conditions. http://bit.ly/dCzueJ

Keeps getting better and better. Have a feeling the deadline will get pushed back again. Does Kovy get completely fed up and head to KHL?

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
1:38 pm

Ya gotta love the youthful enthusiasm!

tweet – dankamal Long after the Thrashers skate ended today, young prospects Alexander Burmistrov & Freddy Pettersson were skating sprints. Love seeing that.

Hockey Biltong

September 2nd, 2010
1:43 pm

Mr Hankeys’ POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO>

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
1:45 pm

Stroz – euwww Yep, I’m ready for Christmas!

Smoothie

September 2nd, 2010
1:51 pm

Uhhh, Larry Brooks is one of the few reputable things the NYP has going for it, but anyway.

As for the Puck Daddy review, it was fair for the most part, but I don’t think Wysh is giving enough credit when it comes to our acquisition of Chris Mason. I really think he will stabilize things between the pipes and help push Pavelec to a new level.

Check out the grades:

2010-11 Preseason Report Card:

Forwards: C (I think I would go with a B- on fwds and a C+ for D)
Defense: B (interesting considering how we perceive our past D issues)
Goaltending: C+ (think that’s a little low, but Pavs sunk the grade)
Special Teams: C- (definitely need to improve the PP for shizzle!)
Coaching: Inc. (guess he doesn’t think Ramsay’s history merits a grade)
Management: B- (I think I would give Duds a solid B, but tough to grade without a completed term paper for the semester at least)

Smoothie

September 2nd, 2010
1:52 pm

Awww damn, blog filter strikes again!

five hole

September 2nd, 2010
1:55 pm

Hey AThrashrfan13 no need to yell at me dude (the caps). ;-)

I’m just pointing out that they have “issues”. Cormier’s court date was postponed until after the start of camp. Do I think he’s going to jail? Probably not, but it’s a concern. So is Burmistrov, until he plays with NHL-ers.

We may have enough talent, maybe not. But what if someone gets hurt? Seems to me we need more up front.

But, we’re going to have a BIG back end. I’m talkin’ extra junk in the trunk. You feelin’ me?

SomaAtl95

September 2nd, 2010
1:58 pm

So I quoted the NY Post, so did TSN.ca, ESPN and a lot of folks on Twitter. And the problem with that is??? If we had someone filtering every rumor that comes our way on anything hockey related, these blogs would have maybe 10 entries. Its not like I was saying I saw Elvis at a Preds game or sighted bat-boy in San Jose.

Smoothie

September 2nd, 2010
2:03 pm

Soma – it’s Larry Brooks so folks who follow hockey should know that his sources are generally good. NYP in general?? Who knows? Sketchy at best I reckon. This Kovy fiasco is getting way out of control.

Flames

September 2nd, 2010
2:24 pm

Politics and religion just stay away!!!! Please just drop the puck and lets PLAY!!!!

SomaAtl95

September 2nd, 2010
3:39 pm

and thus the conversation has completely stalled…For those of you that game, NHL 11 is out next Tuesday! Hopefully they show the Thrashers some love on their initial stats :)

glovesave29

September 2nd, 2010
3:41 pm

THN’s Adam Proteau has this to say about the Thrashers…

“The Atlanta Thrashers were one of the NHL’s most active teams in terms of roster makeovers this summer; they’ll be bigger, meaner and coached by one of the game’s best teachers in Craig Ramsay.”

But this is what really grabbed me…

“The Thrashers’ most expensive season ticket package costs $9,900 per seat. The Lightning’s costliest season ticket package will set you back $9,999. Meanwhile, the most expensive 2009-10 season ticket package for the Montreal Canadiens (sold out, of course) is priced at $8,459 (Canadian)”

Canadian Dollar is 95% of a US Dollar (per XE at 5:12 AM this morning) – thus in our currency, best ticket available to see the Habs is $8036.05 – that is almost 19% less for ST in hockey mad Montreal. Cue the Octocluster and inevitable D-Wad comments……………………………….NOW!

R. Stroz

September 2nd, 2010
3:48 pm

I’ve always wondered what the weighted average cost per ticket is in Atlanta compared to the rest of the league.

Since the Thrasher payroll is always in the bottom 25% of the league, the Thrasher weighted average ticket price should be in the same vicinity.

Smoothie

September 2nd, 2010
3:54 pm

Well, nothing from C-Viv and the crowd falls eerily silent!

SomaAtl95

September 2nd, 2010
3:55 pm

How do you guys think ASG is paying JJ that insane amount of cash? Screwing Hockey fans for Basketball fans…

Smoothie

September 2nd, 2010
3:56 pm

Nice job on the homework glovesave!

Of course, the avg of the rest of the seats at Centre Bell is probably quite a bit higher than le Bulb de Phillips!

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
3:59 pm

I guess that just goes to show that Canadiens don’t really value their Habs hockey? Or what?? Aren’t Toronto tix willed to their heirs like Green Bay tickets?

Smoothie

September 2nd, 2010
4:15 pm

Speaking of les Habitants, James Mirtle is reporting that Carey Price has a new 2-year deal avec Montreal. No terms announced yet.

glovesave29

September 2nd, 2010
4:31 pm

Kracker – I do know the Leafs have had to start gimmick promotions over the last few years to fill in all of the arena – they too offer 2 for 1 ticket nights for the mid-week games agains Columbus, as well as all-you-can-eat seats.

Gotta imagine that the tickets to the Leafs are among the leagues highest. Gotta make money for the Teacher Retirement fund somehow. They’ve gotta be going crazy there – not just 43 years since the cup, but they – along with the Panthers, are the only team not to make the playoffs since the lockout.

Tom

September 2nd, 2010
4:32 pm

There is one big difference between the best seats at Centre Bell and le Bulb de Phillips.

The best seats in Montreal are all sold while the best seats in Atlanta are filled with promos or seat jumpers.

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
4:50 pm

Wow, glovesave, I did not realize that TO and FLA were the only two non-playoff teams since the lockout.

And, yeah, I meant the premium seats are coveted in Toronto. I wonder what their 4-seat Chic-fil-a type special costs?

Red Light

September 2nd, 2010
4:57 pm

Touche’ Tom! Great point.

kracker…Chicago’s camp will start after the first rounds of cuts here.

Brendan

September 2nd, 2010
5:21 pm

For Pavel Kubina, the terms weren’t acceptable? Last season, he made $5.0 million. He AGREED to $3.85 million, for Tampa Bay. How on EARTH is that figure “unacceptable” for the AS,LLC” to pay? Now, I hear ya. “How do we KNOW that Atlanta didn’t offer that, AND MORE, to Kubina?” We don’t. We can’t. We don’t work at the offices of the AS, LLC. Furthermore, even if we had offered $4.0 million for Kubina, it’s Kubina’s choice where he plays. He wanted to go home to Tampa. And look, Tampa’s made what I consider to be “an honest attempt” at pursuing the playoffs and beyond. So, looks like Kubina made a good choice. But if I ever, ever find out … that Pavel Kubina wanted to STAYYYY … but the AS,LLC wouldn’t put up $3.85 million for the guy, then that’s when Sage of Bluesland really, truly becomes more correct. That’s just poor judgement on the part of management. If Kubina told the Thrashers, “Look, I appreciate the offer, but my answer is no. I’m committed to playing elsewhere next season,” then I don’t blame management … or not nearly as much. Yes, for those of you screaming, “But had management/ownership built a better team, Kubina would have wanted to stay,” I hear you. Your point is not lost on me. I’ve heard it. I understand it. And I respect it. But I’ll also say, “Nobody can FORCE a pending UFA to stay. Period, the end. It’s THEIR choice.” Sometimes, a player might even leave the Red Wings, by CHOICE.

If Bergfors is having illusions of grandeur, then I support Dudley and Waddell in making responsible contracts. But if we’re just being cheap, then that sends a message to players and their agents … that isn’t going to help us out any, moving forward. Players flocked to Chicago, because there was a clear intent to spend and win. We can sit here, now, AFTER their Stanley Cup victory parade, and claim that the team is now GUTTED … if it makes us feel better to say that sort of crap. But the truth is, on opening night, they’ll raise a banner to the rafters of the United Center, or whatever their arena is called, that says “2010 Stanley Cup Champions.” Ask a fan of the Sabres, Capitals, Kings, Blues or Canucks how it feels to NEVER have one of those hanging from the rafters. Until and unless we open the gates of intent and spending, with accountability, we’ll continue to be treading water.

Red Light

September 2nd, 2010
6:20 pm

Brendan: My thoughts on Bergfors are pretty concise…proved he can score, came over in Kovalchuk trade, which means signing him should be a must since the fan base rues a similar unproductive Hossa deal, he simply couldn’t be that expensive and it’s not like this team doesn’t have cap room. Like I pointed out, his agent is Heatley’s so that could be a hang-up in some regards.

HOWEVER, why play hardball with him unless the demands are just totally unreasonable?

kracker

September 2nd, 2010
7:01 pm

Thanks, R/L. I thought that made sense. So the Thrash camp is a week or so earlier. Good.

Nate

September 2nd, 2010
8:11 pm

Soma – Will you be online with PS3 or Xbox live with NHL 11? If so, mine sharing your gamertag?

SomaAtl95

September 2nd, 2010
9:47 pm

Nate! Same tag as on here. I have both consoles but let Xbox Live expire. Once they made it so you could do your own soundtracks and I learned how easy it was to make playlists with the PS3 I’ve been playing hockey on PS3 exclusively. I’ve got NHL 10 on PS3, will be getting 11 on PS3 as well – my best friend and I play on his Xbox, he has live and NHL 10 – his tag is PARKER 42. At the release of the game and up until the programmers @ EA make the Thrashers awful with their final 2 or 3 roster releases in the spring, we always play as the Thrashers online.
I’m simple. If you look for SomaAtl95 on PS3/Xbox Live/Twitter/TSN.ca you’ll find me :)

Sparky (Smoothie)

September 2nd, 2010
10:09 pm

Per Adrian Dater of the Colorado Avs beat: “Chris Stewart contract: $2.5 mil and $3.25 –Avs sign chris stewart to two-year, $6 million deal, sources tell Denver Post. Announcement later.”

Okay, there you go Bergfors’ agent…there’s another comparable deal. Stewart had 28 goals in his first full season as a starter. Bergie may be worth that simply due to the fact that he is the centepiece of the Kovy deal. But unless you are looking to get your client a 4 or 5 year deal, please just give us a break and get Nic’s butt to ATL with a 2 year deal worth $5.5 – 6 M. Simple as that.

alex

September 2nd, 2010
10:39 pm

OK sparky you thinking make sense, but what if berg. so dislike this organization (like kovy) and his demand purposely over the top, by the way ceo this organization clown don had something to say this afternoon on 680 am. turn off radio when they announced this.

HookyBob

September 2nd, 2010
11:02 pm

Isn’t Waddell one of the best defensemen in Thrasher history?

He’s been “creatively” defending his decisions for ten years.

Much to some folks dismay I am a faithful reader of this blog,…and the above comment is among the most creative I have seen in a long, long time. Unfortunately it was posted near the end of an earlier blog. It is definitely blog of the year material in my mind. I’d like to hear other bloggers thoughts.

The Smooth Spark

September 2nd, 2010
11:28 pm

Alex – I suppose its possible that he hates ATL but I would’ve thought he’d adjust well to the team considering the presence of Oduya and Enstrom and Moose last year. Beyond that, what options does he have unless he demands a trade. In that case, Duds would be wise to play hard-ball and not overpay him before trading. But sign and trades are rare anyway. So in short, get ur Swedish butt to Doo-luth NOW! :-)

kracker

September 3rd, 2010
7:23 am

Why do I have this idea that Bergfors and his agent have only been available for negotiations for the last two or three weeks? Making these “protracted” negotiations actually shorter to this point than it might seem? Regardless, it will make us all smile if this gets done before the end of the Kovalchuk kontract kerfuffle.

Zoomo

September 3rd, 2010
7:54 am

NHLSources tweeted that Kozlov has signed in the KHL. Good for Kozzy since he obviously still wants to play.

R. Stroz

September 3rd, 2010
7:58 am

HookyBob – That is an awesome comment.

kracker

September 3rd, 2010
8:19 am

C Viv tweeted he is heading out to DIF and will report later.

Rawhide

September 3rd, 2010
8:30 am

Good morning, Thrasherville!!!

It’s only 8:30 am here, but it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. So what say we kick this holiday weekend in gear.