The restricted free agent dominoes have begun falling with Zach Werenski, Ivan Provorov, Mitch Marner, Jared Spurgeon, Charlie McAvoy and Brock Boeser all signing new contracts in the past 10 days.
“Well, we’re talking, I guess is the good news,” Johannson told Sportsnet 650 on Thursday. “We’re a ways apart right now. Like I say all the time, you can do a deal in a day if you’re so inclined. Things can move quickly but we’re not that close frankly.”
Johannson said he feels teams with unsigned players are getting more serious about negotiations with training camp ongoing and the start of the regular season less than two weeks away.
“It certainly helps as more deals get wrapped up and there’s fewer players on the board it puts pressure on the team for sure, and us as well, to try and find some middle ground to get things wrapped up,” Johannson explained.
While Johannson mentioned an offer sheet “is possible,” he added the caveat that it’s not something he ever plans for or puts much weight into.
“We’ve been sort of ready to go since last July,” he said of negotiations. “It’s just I’m a little surprised we’re this far apart this late, but on the other hand every negotiation is a bit different and there’s different pressures and different circumstances and all sorts of different things.”
Point is coming off a career year in 2018-19 with 41 goals, including a league-leading 20 power-play tallies, and 92 points in 79 games while receiving Hart, Selke, Lady Byng and All-Star votes. The 23-year-old Calgary native was a third-round pick in 2014 and over the past three seasons has proven he’s earned a significant contract.
The Lightning have to carefully navigate the salary cap, though, after a busy off-season that saw them trade away J.T. Miller, Ryan Callahan and Adam Erne, and sign the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk, Pat Maroon, Curtis McElhinney plus Lukes Witkowski and Schenn.
General manager Julien BriseBois has roughly $8.4 million in cap space to work with, according to CapFriendly, and Johannson explained Point is open to both short- and long-term deals.
“We’ve been open to pretty much any scenario,” Johannson said. “Again, I think we try not to narrow ourselves too much. Tampa’s situation is unique. They got a really good team. They’ve got some of their top players signed up long term. A lot of their guys have done bridge deals so a bridge deal is certainly on the table. There’s no question about that. We’re just sort of poking around at different options and trying to find common ground and hopefully move this forward.”
Johannson, who described negotiations as a “very, very slow tennis game,” did mention the six-year, $65.358-million deal Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs recently agreed to “is a mark on the board that we work off of.”
He added he’s never had a client miss camp before, besides Josh Morrissey missing a couple days of camp in 2018, and that he and Point don’t have some grand scheme to manage this stalemate long-term – ie heading overseas to skate with a European team like Mikko Rantanen and Patrik Laine are doing in Switzerland right now.
“Our job is just to keep working at it until we get it done. … As the deals start to come together it shapes the market and gives all of us a little bit something more to work off of.”