By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
With talks at a standstill, Bruins president Cam Neely is preparing to begin a rapidly-approaching 2019 training camp without restricted free agent defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy.
“We do have to plan and prepare for these players to not be at camp opening day,” Neely said in a sit down with NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty. “But we have five, six weeks hopefully to get something done. We feel like we should be able to get something done with both of those guys at numbers that make sense for us, and hopefully makes sense for them. I think we’ve done a really good job of kind of managing the cap and making sure that we’re OK to get these guys done.”
The lack of progress with their restricted free agents isn’t something unique to the Bruins, as it’s been a slow-moving summer across the board on this front. Toronto’s Mitch Marner headlines the list of unsigned RFAs, and Lightning center Brayden Point, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, and Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski are all still without new contracts.
Boston’s front office does have experience with this, as they went through a similar summer with David Pastrnak in 2017. Pastrnak, of course, had a holdout that lasted about all of half an hour, as No. 88 signed a long-term deal on the first day of training camp. And the B’s approach to handling RFAs and contract talks hasn’t exactly changed since then, according to Neely.
“The history since Don [Sweeney] has been here is that when we negotiate, we do it from a position of fairness,” Neely told Haggerty. “We do a lot of work at comps around the league and try to get a deal done that’s fair. We start with initial offers that are fair and that’s been no different with Brandon and Charlie.”
Things are almost absolutely guaranteed to get tricky for Sweeney and the Bruins though, as they have just over $8 million in available cap space with Carlo and McAvoy unsigned.