With Columbus Blue Jackets restricted free agent defenseman Zach Werenski now signed to three-year, $15 million contract that carries a $5 million cap hit, does that mean Boston Bruins RFA defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo will be the next RFA dominoes to fall?
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was asked just that following his team’s final game at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo and not even two hours after Werenski and the Blue Jackets reached an agreement.
“I haven’t checked my phone since you and I started talking, I think the deal just came down,” Sweeney joked to a scrum of Boston reporters early Tuesday afternoon in Buffalo. “Every deal allows things to continue to take shape. We’ll be in touch, as we have been, with Charlie and Charlie’s group, as well as Brandon’s group.”
Sweeney was then asked about the contract term parameters that have been discussed with McAvoy and Carlo and if the max eight-year deals allowed with both Carlo and McAvoy had been discussed?
“Outside of a couple of term that were, we’re really hesitant to sign a player that goes right to [unrestricted] free agency without buying free agency, so that would be the only term on those players that we’ve avoided in discussions,” Sweeney replied. “Otherwise we’ve had discussions on every one of them. In Brandon’s case, four years to free agency, so I’m very reluctant to sign him to a four-year deal, without buying any free agency and being in a negotiation where he just walks away. In Charlie’s case it’s five years. But we haven’t really taken anything other than that off the table and we’ve had discussions for well over a year.”
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Sweeney once again expressed confidence a deal with both Carlo and McAvoy will get done but stressed that other than the league-mandated December 1 deadline for all RFA’s to be signed in order to play this season, there currently is no timeframe.
“We’ll find a spot. I’ve said that all along. I do believe we’ll find a spot and we’ll have both those players in our mix,” Sweeney said. “There’s plenty of guys around the league in this situation and the market, timing and everything dictates when the deal is finally done and both sides will find that ground and I believe we will.
Again, I have no timeframe on when the deal will be done. I’ve said all along, I believe we’ll find a deal at some point in time and I’ve also said, I’d rather sooner than later. I’m not going to change my stance on that, but this is just how some negotiations go.”
Sweeney would obviously love to have Carlo and McAvoy on the ice at Warrior Arena Thursday when training camp starts, but he also respects the players’ situations as well. However, he did cite the negotiations last year between forward William Nylander and the Toronto Maple Leafs that went down to the wire and saw Nylander and the Leafs finally settle on a six-year deal that carries a cap hit of $6.9 million. Sweeney made it clear he does not want the Carlo and McAvoy negotiations to follow the same path.
“Yeah,” Sweeney said when asked if he’d still prefer both RFA’s signed before head coach Bruce Cassidy starts putting the masses through their first official on-ice workouts. “But every player has their own personal beliefs in where they need to be. We saw that last year (with Nylander). They just take on a life of their own, but I have my own preferences, yeah. No question about it. I would much prefer the continuity and I think the player the team benefit mutually that way.”