One day after Bryan Murray said there are no scheduled contract negotiations with Chris Neil’s camp, it appears as though the winger is set to hit the open market.
“If Ottawa has no further talks planned with us, then I would say it is almost certain that Chris Neil will be entering the FA market on July 1st,” Neil’s agent Todd Reynolds told Sportsnet on Wednesday.
The two sides spoke in the middle of last month, but have not had any significant communication since then. Murray suggested that both sides have moved in their negotiations that have lasted several months, but a new deal does not appear to be on the horizon.
“We both have moved a little bit, but we’ll just have to see if they come back with any other thoughts. If not, we’re almost at the limit of where we can go,” Murray told Sportsnet on Tuesday afternoon at the general managers meetings in Pittsburgh.
Murray did say he sees Neil on a regular basis at Scotiabank Place, where the winger conducts some of his off-season training. He indicated it’s possible that contract talks could come up informally if the two run into each other — but at this point, nothing is planned on that front.
“I think the club has moved to pretty much where we can,” continued Murray. “We’d obviously like to keep Chris Neil in Ottawa. We think he’s a hard-nosed player and you like those people in your lineup.
The two sides could not reach a deal at the NHL trade deadline in March, despite furious contract talks and attempts to send Neil to another club.
Neil had three goals and seven assists with a minus-13 rating in 60 games last season.