This year’s restricted free agent market has some NHL general managers feeling like those Bostonians who commute in and around this traffic-choked city. Not a lot of movement, we think as we waste hours on road or rail, and not much of it seems reasonable.
Negotiations are crawling between Toronto and Mitch Marner, Tampa Bay and Brayden Point, Colorado and Mikko Rantanen. All but standing still are Calgary and Matthew Tkachuk, Winnipeg and both Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, Columbus and Zach Werenski, and Vancouver and Brock Boeser.
Likewise here in the Hub, where GM Don Sweeney sees nothing but red lights with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Neither young defenseman has arbitration rights, the threat of which cleared the recent roadblock with Danton Heinen (two years and $5.6 million, both sides walking away clean before the muck and grinding of a hearing). The threat of an offer sheet to change the flow is not possible in McAvoy’s case (he’s not eligible), and not likely in Carlo’s (though a plucky GM could break with tradition). So like anyone driving out of downtown Boston after 3 p.m., or standing on a Red Line platform . . . we wait.
Neither McAvoy nor Carlo has reason to budge. Not at this point, after digging in all of last season and holding firm through free agency, Sweeney’s July 1 to-do list be damned. They won’t miss a day of summer training or a single dollar until Sept. 30, when the first paychecks of 2019-20 are cut. The rubber doesn’t really hit the road until Dec. 1, when the NHL puts up a detour sign for any RFA still withholding services.
Yes, this thing could drag on through Thanksgiving, as it could for any of the aforementioned young stars, none of whom have arbitration rights. For those here who want to see McAvoy and Carlo flying around on the Boston back end, it would be as frustrating as hanging around for that next train to Alewife, which should arrive . . . someday.