Islanders training camp starts in two days and the only player not present at the informal skates has been forward Brock Nelson, who has yet to sign a contract extension as a restricted free agent. According to a report in Newsday, Nelson's agent blames the Islanders for his client's absence.
Agent Ron Salcer tells Arthur Staple that he hasn't heard from Islanders GM Garth Snow in six weeks and that the two-year contract offered in that long ago phone call was very much not to the Nelson camp's liking.
"We haven't heard from them in six weeks," Salcer told Newsday. "[Islanders general manager] Garth [Snow] and I talked six weeks ago after they made an offer, which was nowhere near commensurate with what players like Brock are making. Garth said he'd get back to me and that was it. No negotiations whatsoever."
There's no indication of how much the Islanders put on the table, but it's pretty safe to assume it wasn't in the neighborhoods that Salcer and Nelson were looking at.
Salcer named four players who received significant raises this offseason despite being in the same situation as Nelson: Mikael Granlund got two years and $6 million from the Wild, Alex Galchenyuk got two years and $5.6 million from the Canadiens, Mika Zibanejad received two years and $5.25 million from the Senators and Elias Lindholm got two years and $5.4 million from the Hurricanes, though Lindholm is still a year away from that contract kicking in.
The report ends with Salcer reaching out to Snow, but not hearing back yet.
Without arbitration rights, Nelson doesn't have a whole lot he can do but wait for a better deal. Snow has a little over $8 million in cap space to play with, and wants to add an experienced defenseman, possibly this week. They have Steve Bernier in on a PTO and recently signed 2015 first rounder Mathew Barzal to an ELC.
Salcer is doing his job in trying to get his client the most money he can. But Snow is also doing his job, minding the salary cap in an era where every dollar counts. Salcer has to look out for Nelson's best interests the same way Snow has to look out for contracts he'll need to hand out next year and beyond. Salcer has chosen to go public with his beef, whereas Snow apparently prefers the cold shoulder.
We've been waiting patiently (or impatiently) for Nelson to come around before camp, but this report turns up the heat by several degrees. The Islanders have a long-standing rule about not negotiating with RFAs past the start of camp. That gives everyone about two days to get together on common ground and get Nelson to IceWorks in time for headshots.
And until they do, it's going to be a wild ride for us.