With NHL Training Camps set to open, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes remain unsigned. It is not uncommon for restricted free agents to not be signed before Training Camp; however, the situation with the two Vancouver Canucks superstars is cause for concern. Here is the latest report regarding their contracts.
What We Know
According to an article by Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal posted to The Athletic, Pettersson has left Vancouver and is on his way to Michigan to train with Hughes. (from ‘What we’re hearing about Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes negotiations ahead of Canucks training camp’, The Athletic, 9/20/21) The two have also reported that agent Pat Brisson is speaking to Canucks brass every day to try and work out a deal. This has caused some concern amongst Canucks fans as training camp and preseason games start soon.
One big fear is that these negotiations are drawn out, which could cause both players to miss some time during the regular season. A similar thing happened with William Nylander back in 2018 where the two sides only agreed in December. That season, he posted career lows in goals per game and points per game.
These are not easy contracts to negotiate. Here are some potential roadblocks both sides have to work around to get these contracts signed:
Length of Contract
One issue that has come up is how long the contracts should be. Do the players sign a bridge deal to cash in once the salary cap increases, or go for the home-run contract and sign for eight years? Vancouver will want to try and sign these players to long-term deals. The players however will want a bridge deal so they can renegotiate once the team has more cap space. This is the first significant hurdle the two sides need to agree on.
This only applies to Pettersson, but signing an offer sheet is still a possibility. Although not used often, there has already been one this offseason given out by Carolina. The player would need to sign for this to work, but if tension starts to arise between the two sides, this could be an option.
The biggest question is, how much are these two going to get paid? If they sign for a shorter term, Vancouver may be able to get the two players for cheaper than if signed to a long-term deal. The other issue is that Vancouver only has approximately $15 million available to spend, and this could mean the team may have to trade another player to make room for the contracts.
Keeping Your Stars Happy
The NHL is a star-driven league, and teams should want to keep their stars happy. One way to ensure that they want to stay with the team is by signing them to contracts and not leaving everything to the last minute. Otherwise, they could leave once the contract is over.
The Brock Boeser Situation
The Canucks have been through this situation before. Back in 2019, Brock Boeser missed Training Camp due to ongoing contract negotiations. He ended up signing a three-year deal worth $5.875 million per season once the preseason started.
Luckily, Boeser started the season strong as he had 19 points in his first 20 games. However, he did get some preseason games in, which helped him get ready for the season. The way these contracts are progressing, both Pettersson and Hughes may not get that same opportunity. This could lead to a slow start and playing catch up for the first few weeks of the season.
The good news is there is still time to get these players signed. The contracts could get done overnight, and the two could be in Vancouver before the first preseason game. That being said, time is ticking. The Canucks can not afford to have a slow start this season if they want to make the playoffs.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.