Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
It’s all about money and term now, as Newsday’s Arthur Staple explains:
A report Monday indicated Nielsen had turned down an Islander contract offer worth $5.5 million per season. Sources had indicated in the past week that the two sides had moved closer on a deal, one that was likely to be six or seven years in length to keep the average annual value below that $5.5 million number and keep Nielsen in an Islander uniform for the rest of his NHL career.
Things change daily, even hourly, when it comes to the free-agent frenzy, so one side or the other could have altered their stance. But last I heard, $5.5 million per was not the right number and the sides were closer on a deal.
You can’t blame Nielsen for wanting to cash in. He’s 32 now, his last chance to really hit it big in free agency. His expiring contract — a four-year, $11 million deal — gave the Isles incredible value for one of the most underrated two-way centers in the league.
Of course, you also can’t blame the Isles for being cautious. Again, he’s 32 now. You can do the math if he re-signs for six of seven years. Plus, they’ve got 19-year-old center Mathew Barzal in the pipeline, and they’ve got to re-sign John Tavares in a couple of years.
If Nielsen decides to test the market, they’re already talking about him in Detroit as a Plan B to Steven Stamkos. So it may be he has to wait and see who lands the biggest fish before he signs anywhere.
Also, keep an eye on the Minnesota Wild. They could use a center. It’s why they were linked to Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in trade speculation. Signing a free agent instead would mean they wouldn’t have to lose one of their good, young defensemen.
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.