Despite discussions of a contract extension reportedly taking place as late as last week, Frans Nielsen is now able to talk to other teams after thus far declining to accept the New York Islanders' offer of a reported $5.5 million average annual value (AAV).
That figure comes from the Post and Larry Brooks, citing being "told" that as well as that the team expects discussions to continue but that the team is "not especially sanguine" about the chances of reaching a deal. That report also says Nielsen will command $6 million on the open market. Unrestricted free agents can talk to other teams this week -- though technically they cannot discuss concrete offers -- before the signing period opens July 1.
The Post story is filled with all kinds of sky-falling claims about the franchise -- "straddling" Brooklyn and Long Island is difficult, an obligatory "but won't Tavares flee?", the ice in the playoffs was so "dangerous" that an agent supposedly wouldn't recommend his player sign there, etc.
The key phrase within might be the ironic "Sometimes these pronouncements can be hyperbolic," which, um, can be applied to a lot of columns from that corner of the tabloid world..
But back to the Nielsen situation: The range of $5-6 million or more per year has been thrown around by media the last few weeks when discussing free agents like him, David Backes and Andrew Ladd -- players who have had very good careers but who are also at the age where a long-term deal at that salary in this flat cap world is risky, to say the least.
UPDATE: Newsday's latest
Here's key context published Monday by Arthur Staple of Newsday, which usually has a better read on Islanders activity:
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.
The rule of thumb in unrestricted free agency is to recognize that many of these prices are prone to regret, and yet the dynamics of the market mean there is usually at least two teams willing to pay them.
Unlike Ladd and Backes' current (and soon to be ex-) teams, however, the danger of that price for Nielsen matched by the risk of his team not finding an adequate replacement for next season. Ironically, Nielsen is the least talked-about or heralded of this free agent tier yet could easily be the most sorely missed.
The words of Blues GM Doug Armstrong (in reference to Backes) resonate here:"We'd like to have David back and hopefully as we push in we can get it done, but it has to work for both sides not just one." Armstrong said.
"We're willing to invest a little bit of ‘thank you' money, but it has to make sense. He's earned the right...but only to a level."
Nielsen's entire post-ELC career has been taken up by two long-term team-friendly deals. This time, a serious payday and "thank you money" is assured, be it from the Isles or another club.
As always during this silly time of year: to be continued.