Arizona GM John Chayka has already accomplished much this offseason but a GM’s work is never done. The Coyotes still have RFA Tobias Rieder to re-sign and it appears a deal is not close to being completed.
According to Rieder’s representation, agent Darren Ferris, “There’s been no discussions at this point that have made any meaningful change in anyone’s position.”
Rieder is coming off a 14-goal, 37-point performance this past season and is looking to cash in. Last month, Ferris appeared to have established their expectations for a new contract by naming Nazem Kadri as a reasonable comparable. Kadri netted a six-year deal with Toronto with an AAV of $4.5MM a year ago on the heels of an 18-goal, 39-point campaign. Rieder, 23, tallied 37 points a year ago and on the surface that performance would appear to represent a fair talking point on a new contract. However, Kadri had a much longer and more distinguished track record than the two-year veteran Coyotes forward.
First, Kadri was a high first round draft choice, going 7th overall in 2009. Rieder was a 4th round selection two years later. Teams are willing to bet on upside in contract negotiations and 1st round picks generally come with more untapped potential than 4th rounders.
Second, when Kadri agreed to his extension, he already had posted at least 40 points in four separate NHL campaigns, with a career best 50 coming in 2013-14. He also had six years of NHL experience, putting him just two years away from unrestricted free agency per the terms of the current CBA. Rieder, on the other hand, just completed his second NHL campaign, leaving him well away from unrestricted free agency. Kadri had accomplished far more at the NHL level over a far longer period of time than has Rieder to this point and was closer to reaching free agency.
Ferris also pointed out Jamie McGinn’s recent three-year contract with Arizona as a base line for negotiations. McGinn carries an AAV of $3.33MM.
Again, McGinn has been in the league a lot longer than Rieder (veteran of 450 NHL games) and has two, 20-goal campaigns on his resume. He also signed his deal as an UFA with far more leverage thanks to a broad market than Rieder has as an RFA.
As Morgan wrote, perhaps the most logical comparable given Rieder’s age, experience and production level is Vladislav Namestnikov of Tampa Bay. Through 127 career NHL games, Namestnikov has tallied 23 goals and 51 points, numbers reasonably close to Rieder’s. Namestnikov was selected with the 27th selection in the 1st round of the 2011 entry draft and is the same age as Rieder. Tampa secured Namestnikov’s services on a two-year deal worth slightly less than $2MM annually.
Rieder’s camp is marketing the winger using advanced stats and as we know, Chayka is well-versed in analytics. Evidently, Ferris has yet to make a compelling enough case to sway the Arizona GM to their way of thinking on Rieder’s value. Chayka is obviously sticking to his guns as whatever deal he and Rieder agree on sets a standard for future negotiations. Every new contract adds to the pool of possible comparable deals other agents will point to when advocating for their clients and it’s the job of club management to try to keep those salaries as low as possible.
Ferris has suggested the German-born Rieder would entertain offers to play overseas and while that possibility can’t be discounted, particularly if his European contract contained an out-clause, the NHL is the premier league in the world and most players want to play there. It might go down to the wire but I fully expect the Coyotes and Rieder to get a deal done, likely very similar to Namestnikov’s, but perhaps eclipsing $2MM in AAV.