There are two universal truths about guys going into the final year of their contracts.
One, they want to get a new deal done before the start of the season.
Two, they don’t want it to be a distraction.
There are few certainties in life, but these are two of ’em. The next time you hear a player say “I’d like for this to linger on as long as possible,” or “I look forward to answering questions about this every day,” it’ll be the first.
There are, of course, several prominent NHLers facing this exact situation.
Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, Carolina’s Eric Staal (and Cam Ward), Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd (and Dustin Byfuglien), Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec, Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, Arizona’s Shane Doan and St. Louis’ David Backes are all 23 days away from the start of the regular season, at which time they’ll officially enter the final year of their respective contracts.
To date, Stamkos (see here), Kopitar (see here) and Ladd (see here) have been most prominently discussed; that said, Staal has received plenty of coverage and it’s worth noting that, of all the players mentioned, only Byfuglien and Seabrook play defense — a highly-coveted position on the unrestricted free agent market.
When voting in this here poll, a few things to consider:
— How much could the distraction really derail things? Like Carolina, for example. The ‘Canes aren’t supposed to be any good this year anyway and, to be blunt, don’t generate a ton of national discussion.
— Why are some of these guys flying under the radar? All has been quiet on the Seabrook front in Chicago, though that’s likely due to the club’s more immediate (and, pressing) cap concerns. This bit from ESPN is almost all we’ve heard on the Backes extension.
— Is there any additional pressure if it’s a captain? If so, that could further complicate things for Stamkos, Ladd, Backes, Doan and Staal.
Feel free to add other suggestions in the comments section.