When a restricted free agent is slow in working out a contract with their team in the NHL, this is about the time of year where regular hockey fans will start to get a little bit antsy to get something done. Picture then, if you will, what it’s like for fans of the Montreal Canadiens to sit around and wait for news, any news at all, on what’s going on with restricted free agent and prospective starting goalie Carey Price.
There hasn’t been any news at all on what’s going on with Price and with Stanley Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi back on the market as an unrestricted free agent, some fans are getting a little bit worked up about things. Thankfully, Dave Stubbs of Habs Inside/Out is here to settle everyone down.
Gerry Johannson, Price’s agent, says that the two sides “are not necessarily close, but it’s not that we’re not close in a bad way. We’re having good conversations and we both are commited to getting things done.” Johannson says the slow pace of talks is “relatively normal” and that his hope is to have a deal done by the end of this month or early next month.
The agent says he’s seeking a shorter-term deal, which would likely translate to a year or two.
It’s an unusual summer, of course, with the number of goaltenders changing address and teams’ rosters still taking shape. The Chicago Blackhawks’ decision to walk away this week from the Antti Niemi arbritration ruling has begun rumours in Montreal that the Canadiens would go after the goalie who led the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup since 1961. But Johannson has been told by Habs GM Pierre Gauthier that “this is 100 per cent not the case.”
All right Habs fans, get off the ledge and everything will be OK. This is just business as usual. As for speculation about what Price will get contract-wise, consider these facts. Price was, for all intents and purposes, a backup goalie to Jaroslav Halak last year and Halak earned $3.75 million per year from the Blues after the Habs traded him to St. Louis. Antti Niemi was the starting goalie for the Stanley Cup champions after taking the starting job from former Habs goalie Cristobal Huet and won a $2.75 million award in arbitration.
Price should be asking for $3 million a year, but willing to settle for $2 million a year if the Habs are feeling generous like that. Let’s face it, the goalie market is bad and demanding a king’s ransom goes over about as well as losing a game in Montreal. What won’t help Price’s negotiations out is what Marty Turco signed for in Chicago as that will be viewed as the right way to settle a deal with a guy desperate for a job.