We are less than 15 hours from what could be the craziest day of the year for some NHL teams.
Free agent signings will come fast and furious tomorrow, but where do some of the Caps’ key figures stand today? I will try to update this each time I find an agent willing to talk to me. First up this morning was Cristobal Huet’s representation, Stephen Bartlett.
Q: IS THERE ANY KIND OF UPDATE ON THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH HUET AND THE CAPS?
Bartlett: Nothing new really – I haven’t talked to the Caps in a while. I may give them a call today or vice versa. If tomorrow comes, the Capitals are still very much in our thoughts.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF HOW MANY TEAMS MIGHT BE INTERESTED TOMORROW?
Bartlett: You have to wait until Christmas morning to find out what is under the tree. I think Cristobal is a good goalie and there are not a lot of good goalies out there. I think in this situation there is always the temptation to see what the market will bear.
Q: IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR HOLDING UP A DEAL WITH THE CAPS?
Bartlett: It is the any one of the usual factors that come up in negotiations. If anyone is dragging their feet on this, it is me. We have no problems with how the Capitals have handled their side of the negotiations.
Q: IS PART OF IT BECAUSE HUET TURNS 33 THIS SEASON AND HASN’T HAD THIS KIND OF CHANCE TO TEST THE MARKET?
Bartlett: This is clearly the most important contract of his career. Now, maybe he is the next Dominik Hasek and he will sign five more deals, but history would suggest this is a very important one for him.
Q: YOU SAID YOU HAVEN’T TALKED TO THE CAPS RECENTLY. WHY AREN’T THEY CALLING EVERY HOUR OR EVERY DAY?
Bartlett: That was probably me indicating that we’re likely going to wait until July 1 and them taking that to heart. They’ve been very proactive throughout the process.
Bartlett definitely went out of his way to praise Caps management during that interview, so far now it certainly seems like they are still in good shape with Huet. Now what happens if another team comes in tomorrow with a mega-offer is another matter. As for which team or teams that might be, Colorado and Los Angeles would seem to be the two most likely. Ottawa could also use a goaltender, but the Senators have limited cap space and it seems as though a top defenseman (specifically Brian Campbell) is at the top of their to-do list. Beyond those three, it is tough to find another that might be willing to pony up more than $5 million for a goalie. Mike Green is the more indispensible player long term, but Huet might be the most important of the team’s free agents for 2008-09.
(UPDATING at 10:55 a.m.)
Next up is Roland Thompson, the agent for RFA Brooks Laich. As I detailed the other day, Laich is an interesting case. He had by far his best year with the Caps and is an important member of the team, but it is easy to see why the two sides finding common ground could be difficult. I would guess part of what could be holding up deals for Laich, Shaone Morrisonn and Boyd Gordon is the unknown with Green and Huet. GM George McPhee and assistant GM Don Fishman have a budget, and they might need to figure out the two big contracts before hammering out the other three.
Q: IS THERE ANY UPDATE ON THE NEGOTIATIONS?
Thompson: I would just say we’re talking. Is it to the point where phones are being slammed on each other? No. Do they want Brooks back? Yes. Does he want to be back with the Capitals? Absolutely yes. We just have to find a place that is a perceived fair-market deal for us and where they feel it is a good-market deal for them. If that doesn’t happen, then another team could step in with an offer or we could end up letting an arbiter decide.
Q: DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF ANY TEAMS THAT MIGHT BE AFTER LAICH TOMORROW?
Thompson:I certainly wouldn’t want to share that in the press.
Q: HAVE YOU HAD ANY DISCUSSIONS WITH OTHER TEAMS ABOUT HIM?
Thompson: I am not at liberty to say, other than the day restricted free agents can start signing offer sheets is tomorrow.