Joe Nieuwendyk reflects on James Neal negotiations, Bobby Ryan and Marc Staal also in limbo

nealiceshower.jpgMany of the biggest restricted free agent chips have fallen in the last month or so, with tough-to-compare cases such as Patric Hornqvist’s coming to satisfying conclusions in their negotiations. Still, there are a few scenarios that could linger beyond training camp, with New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and Dallas Stars power forward James Neal ranking among the top of the list.

Neal’s situation was the topic of discussion between Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk and Craig Custance of the Sporting News today. Nieuwendyk said that he hopes to get a deal done before camp but acknowledges that it could take quite a while to reach a compromise, despite having more comparable contracts to work with than they did in the beginning of the free agent summer.

Nieuwendyk said he has spoken recently with Neal’s agent, Pat Morris, and both sides continue to work on a deal.

Morris works for Newport Sports Management, an agency that has represented many high-profile restricted free agents this summer. Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, another Newport client, is also without a deal.

Newport’s Craig Oster negotiated a three-year, $9.25 million deal for Nashville’s restricted free agent Patric Hornqvist.

Hornqvist put up comparable numbers to Neal’s last season, but Nieuwendyk warned against drawing any conclusions from that contract.

“There are comparables and there are people who belong to the same agent,” he said. “But we do things that reflect where we are . … [Predators GM] David Poile did what he thought was best for his hockey club. We’ll do the same with ours, too.”

Thumbnail image for bobbyryan3.jpgAs you might have noticed from that excerpt, Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan still hasn’t finalized a deal yet either despite seemingly being on the verge of doing so last week. This summer must have been a protracted and frustrating one for Ilya Kovalchuk and Nikolai Khabibulin’s agent Jay Grossman, but judging from these currently fruitless situations, he’s far from alone in the frustration.

The Stars and Ducks are cash-strapped franchises whose real-life budgets probably fall well below the NHL’s salary cap ceiling. Ryan and Neal are important pieces of their teams’ future – both near and far – so hopefully both clubs need to get something done.

I’m still not sure why another team doesn’t send an offer sheet Ryan or Neal’s way, though. Sure, the Stars and Ducks would probably match it, but why not make them sweat and possibly put them in a tough spot?

I guess it’s not worth a little awkwardness at the next general managers shindig, then.

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    Report: Bobby Ryan and Anaheim Ducks finally agree on a five year deal

    Thumbnail image for BobbyRyan3.jpgOne of the most important restricted free agent haggling sessions looks like it is reportedly over. Various outlets report that the Anaheim Ducks and Bobby Ryan are about to agree on a big new deal, while Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that the terms of the contract will be for five years at about $5.5 million per year (or five years, $27.5 million).

    While this isn’t yet official, the contract seems like it would be an interesting (and reasonable) compromise between two sides that were justifiably in disagreement.

    If you need your memory refreshed, the first stumbling block was that Bobby Ryan’s people wanted it to be three years long to allow him to cash in as much as possible on unrestricted free agency. The Ducks balked at three years because that contract would expire at the same time as the team’s other two power forwards, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. To say that would be a bottleneck is an understatement.

    My guess is that Ryan accepted a later arrival into unrestricted free agency for a slightly larger payday than his older partners in crime. This will make Ryan their highest paid forward and second highest paid player overall behind defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. The Ducks will probably send Brett Festerling or another depth player down to the minors and will be about $5 million under the cap if that $5.5 million annual cap hit is accurate.

    Again, this isn’t official but it seems very close to being confirmed. It’s a fair deal for both sides if those financial details are true, so the Ducks, their fans and Ryan’s representatives can all breathe easy.

    Ducks have started informal talks with RFA Bobby Ryan

    bobbyryan3.jpgNow that Ilya Kovalchuk and his contract are out of the way, we can now spend the rest of our summer speculating on when restricted free agents are going to sign.

    Wait, it’s September now? All right, fine. It’s September but that doesn’t mean we still can’t speculate on those RFAs. One guy who has had a bit of an interesting summer regarding reports is Anaheim restricted free agent Bobby Ryan. He’s gone from disagreeing with the Ducks over contract length to confusion over whether the Ducks would trade him or not but now it’s clear that it’s time to talk business. Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register has the latest details of what’s going on with Bobby Ryan.

    Talks between the Ducks and winger Bobby Ryan on a new contract appear to have entered an active stage as the two sides held a negotiation session on Friday and have agreed to meet again after Labor Day weekend.

    Don Meehan, one of the agents for the 23-year-old goal scorer, confirmed that there was a meeting today but was mum on any details that arose out of the session, particularly whether there was any common ground reached between the Ducks’ desire for a four-year deal or more and Ryan’s wish for nothing more than three years.

    Getting both sides together is a great sign for Ducks fans hoping that the rising star will get taken care of and join the rest of the team in training camp. Then again, perhaps Bobby Ryan is worried that Ryan Getzlaf is just going to hassle him more about not winning the gold medal in Vancouver.

    Anaheim Ducks, Bobby Ryan set to meet up and attempt to make a deal this week

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BobbyRyan3.jpgWhile the Ilya Kovalchuk fiasco could be settled sometime today (heaven help us if the NHL rejects the contract again), some of the major restricted free agent negotiations are still in limbo. Perhaps the biggest impact player in that RFA group is Anaheim Ducks power forward of the present and future Bobby Ryan.

    The Ducks and Ryan have hit quite a few road bumps in the process, but it seems like both sides think that Ryan remaining in Anaheim is the ideal scenario. The Orange County Register reports that Ryan, his agent Don Meehan and the Ducks will come together to try to hash out a contract extension this week.

    Don Meehan, one of Ryan’s Newport Sports Management agents, told the Register in an e-mail that there are plans to meet with Ducks management as the club’s reigning top goal scorer remains unsigned with training camp less than three weeks away.

    Previous discussions have been fruitless until now with the Ducks trying to get their 23-year-old sniper signed to a long-term deal and Ryan hesitant to commit to anything more than three years.

    As the OC Register points out, it seems like teams are getting a better sense of urgency when it comes to re-signing RFAs now that training camp is rapidly approaching. Some fairly big fish such as Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist landed new deals, but Ryan and Dallas Stars forward James Neal have an even better track record and even more cash-strapped teams to deal with.

    Meeting up might not make Ryan any more willing to sign a longer contract and it might not alleviate the Ducks’ concerns about signing Ryan in the same summer as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, but hopefully they can come to a reasonable compromise. We could find out as early as this week.

    Bobby Ryan says he doesn't want the Ducks to trade him

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BobbyRyan3.jpgNow that Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Little are no longer restricted free agents, the spotlight focuses even more on the two biggest RFAs remaining (unless you really love Marc Staal): Bobby Ryan and James Neal. The Ryan-Anaheim Ducks negotiations have been especially intriguing because the ideal three-year length for Ryan would be lethal for his team. They’ve been at an impasse for quite some time, now, and that still seems to be the case.

    The (mostly) good news is that Ryan doesn’t want a trade and is pretty adamant about avoiding a holdout, too. The 23-year-old forward discussed the situation with the Orange County Register.

    “I don’t want a trade,” Ryan told the Register on Monday following a workout. “I’m not asking for a trade. Iwant to be here in Anaheim. This is where I want to be.

    “If it comes to a situation where there’s heads butting, then I guess it would be best. But I am not looking for a trade. I have no intentions of being traded. I love it here and want to remain a Duck.”

    [snip]

    “I don’t want people to think I’m holding out or I’m going to hold out,” he said. “That’s not the case. We’re just trying to find something that works for both sides right now.”

    Ryan says that he wishes the two sides could meet up and hash the whole thing out in one day, but “understands it is a process.” The two sides seem like they’ve simmered down quite a bit, at least publicly. I wonder if four years is the magic compromise number there, but obviously both sides want to get their way.

    (The story states that the Ducks will just matter an offer sheet, but why wouldn’t a nefarious team send a three-year deal his way even if it’s just to give Anaheim a headache? Come on, Los Angeles Kings, this is the perfect opportunity to give your in-state rivals a hard time.)

    While Ryan’s quotes seem pretty positive, he’s not saying a trade is out of the question altogether. This closing quote could give Ducks fans some pause.

    “I’ll figure something out before I get to a holdout [scenario],” he said. “But if NHL teams are starting camps, I’ll be on the ice somewhere. Hopefully here.”

    To paraphrase a wise, cartoon dog: “Ruh roh.”