Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen is among the group of top-level restricted free agents that appear to be holding up much of the remaining offseason activity. While he’s also in the group that appears to be waiting for other players to sign first, GM Joe Sakic told NHL.com’s Rick Sadowski that they are open to doing a short-term deal although their preference is to get something longer done.
Despite that preference, it doesn’t appear as if much has been done in an effort to secure a long-term contract. Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater reports that there have been no discussions between Colorado and Rantanen’s agent Mike Liut dating back to an informal discussion back at the draft.
While daily discussions certainly aren’t a requirement in these types of negotiations, both sides typically check in from time to time to see if progress can be made. On the surface, this report would suggest that there is a sizable gap to bridge and both sides are waiting for the other to make the first move towards a compromise.
Rantanen is coming off of a career year that saw him collect 87 points despite missing the final eight games of the regular season due to an upper-body injury. It was the second straight year that he eclipsed the 80-point plateau which has him in line to be one of the top-paid RFAs in this class. A deal in the $9MM to $10MM range is likely at this point unless he winds up with a bridge contract that doesn’t buy out any UFA eligibility. However, Liut’s track record would suggest a short-term agreement isn’t likely.
With still a month to go before the start of training camps, there’s still plenty of time to get something done although the lack of substantive discussions thus far is a little surprising. At the very least, the Avs won’t have any issue fitting Rantanen into their salary cap as they currently sit with more than $16MM in cap room, per CapFriendly. That mitigates the risk of an offer sheet (as minor as that risk may be) but it appears that there’s a long way to go to get a deal done.