BOLTON — With NHL training camps set to open up all across North America later this week, it looks as though dominoes are finally starting to fall in what has been a stagnant restricted free agent market this summer.
Entering Monday morning, a number of NHL clubs had so far failed to find the common ground needed to bring their young star players back into the fold by way of their first big payday.
Less than a week until Boston’s roster is expected to report to Warrior Ice Arena for its first full practice session of the 2019-20 season, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo have still yet to sign the dotted lines on new contracts.
But Don Sweeney is far from the only GM playing the waiting game when it comes to RFAs.
Along with McAvoy/Carlo, other young skaters like Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, Patrik Laine, Matthew Tkachuk, Ivan Provorov, Brock Boeser and Kyle Connor have all failed to sign new deals.
But one party finally blinked Monday, as the Blue Jackets announced that 22-year-old defenseman Zach Werenski agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract — finally setting the market for the remaining RFA blueliners.
But how comparable is Werenski to another top-pairing defenseman like McAvoy, especially when it comes to setting both term and salary on a new deal?