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.
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.