While it appears that the Maple Leafs are close to finalizing a seven year, $31.5MM extension with defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, it doesn’t appear that there are any talks ongoing with other pending restricted free agents, TSN’s Bob McKenzie relayed on a radio appearance with TSN 1050. Wingers Connor Brown and Zach Hyman are Toronto’s other prominent restricted free agents but McKenzie noted that GM Lou Lamoriello typically has tended to stay away from mid-season extensions so the fact nothing is currently happening there shouldn’t come as a surprise:
“I think historically – I wouldn’t say it’s a hard and fast rule – but historically the GM, Lou, if I remember correctly, doesn’t do a lot of mid-season deals. It’s a little unusual.”
Brown is having himself a nice rookie season with 19 goals (fifth most on the team) and 35 points while playing in all 76 games. As for Hyman, his point total isn’t as high (28) but has been a strong complementary player in their top six. Unlike Brown, Hyman is also eligible for arbitration following the season. The Leafs have the financial flexibility to give each a long-term if they so desire as they have just under $57MM committed to 18 players for next season (a figure that does not include any potential bonus overage from this season).
Other notes from the Atlantic:
- While there had been some discussion on a potential contract extension earlier this season, no formal offer was presented from the Canadiens to right winger Alexander Radulov, reports Sportsnet’s Eric Engels. Radulov also once again vehemently denied the report from two weeks ago that suggested he was seeking a max-term eight year contract. The Russian winger has made a strong impression on his one year deal signed back in July and while he may not get eight years, he’s still likely to get a long-term contract in what’s shaping up to be a light free agent market this summer.
- Not only will the Bruins be without left winger Frank Vatrano for both games this weekend, they will also still be without left winger Tim Schaller for the next two games, notes Anthony Gulizia of the Boston Globe. Schaller had been cleared for contact on Thursday and the belief was that he was close to returning but he didn’t take part in practice today. Head coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t sure when Schaller will be ready to return.