The Toronto Maple Leafs and Nazem Kadri remain far apart in their contract negotiations and the battle to get a deal done appears to be much further away than perhaps feared.
Recently, Kadri told reporters that the current contract talks have started to become a “distraction” and that he was “being more than reasonable” and it was up to the Leafs at this point.
Kadri’s side opened negotiations early in the process seeking a contract in the neighbourhood of $36 million over six years. Their camp is open to bringing that number down to $5 million per season as a means to help the Leafs with their current cap squeeze.
Kadri’s camp is looking at the contracts that were recently doled out to players in his draft class. His points per game, shooting percentage and potential are also factors in Kadri’s case.
Meanwhile, the Leafs were more interested in giving Kadri a shorter-term bridge-type deal in the neighbourhood of $6 million over two years. Their biggest concern lies with Kadri's significant drop off over his last 19 games (including the playoffs) where he managed only nine points. A far cry from the 39 points over 30 games he had previously.
The philosophies both sides are adopting are far apart. And it doesn't appear to suggest that there’s a simple midway point here. The Leafs cap space has definitely made things a little murky but it no longer seems to be the major stumbling block that it initially appeared to be. Looking at it from the outside, both sides have cases to be made.
If you’re Kadri, should the Leafs cap concerns be yours? I don't think so. If you’re the Leafs do you want to pay Kadri top dollar if you have any concern about sustainable success? There is real reservation there.
Defenceman Cody Franson remains unsigned and it appears his side was seeking a long-term deal, a major reason why his side elected to not go the route of salary arbitration this summer when they had the chance.
No easy solution here.