Okay, don't panic. We're going to talk about Brenden Dillon right now, and I want to--hey, stop that! I said don't panic. Breathe, now.
Brenden Dillon's agent, Jarrett Bousquet (who also negotiated Cody Eakin's recent two-year, $3.8 million deal) has taken the first step in the deterioration of negotiations. Remember, this is only the first step. On Tuesday night, Bousquet claimed that the Stars refused to offer Dillon that same two-year, $3.8 million deal. Mike Heika has the latest as of Tuesday night:
Frisco-based agent Jarrett Bousquet said he has been discussing different options with Stars general manager Jim Nill to get a new contract for Dillon, who is a restricted free agent. Bousquet said he believes his offer is below market value for Dillon, and that the fact the Stars disagree creates a contentious situation with Dillon.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing, and I know Brenden feels that way,” Bousquet said. “There is a market out there for him to be paid even more than this, so this is an offer that we think should get things done.”
I'm going to assume that you're panicking now despite what I said earlier, so just go for it., I guess. Get it out of your system. What we now know for sure is that there is a sizable gap between Dallas' estimation of Dillon's worth and the comparables that Bousquet is bringing forward, and neither side is budging at this time. Dallas clearly feels that their points for negotiation are solid, and with the limited leverage Dillon has, his agent is trying to put more pressure on the Stars by revealing the latest offer (if indeed the details are accurate, which isn't always a given in these situations) and claiming that Dillon's value is even greater than the just-signed Eakin. He might not be wrong on that last point, and if they were both UFAs, everything would sort itself out accordingly. That's not the case, though.
Heika's piece has a list of comparables and more--again, you should read the whole thing--but when it comes down to it, Dillon's is a special case without a perfectly analogous player out there. if the two sides can't agree on at least general parameters, then everyone is going to start running for the Ryan Johansen hills. That's a pretty gutsy tactic for Bousquet to use, in all honesty. But here's where he's coming from, (again, per Heika):
“He is clearly a top four defensemen, and there’s value in that,” Bousquet said. “That’s the toughest thing to handle is they don’t see the value in what he has brought to the team. He should be worth the same as a top eight forward, if not more.”
And that's the real sticky wicket here. (Well, that and the "top-eight forward" line. Not sure what that means.) Bousquet has decided to pick players like Erik Gudbranson as comparables while Dallas is having none of that.
Elliotte Friedman chimed in last night with his take on the negotiations as well, and it paints the picture pretty clearly.
Heika’s story confirmed Bousquet initially used Erik Gudbranson as a comparable. Gudbranson finished his entry-level contract with 21 points in 169 games. He played 17:58 per night last season, and signed an extension worth an average annual value of $2.5M. Dillon is at 25 points in 129 games, averaging 21:05. GM Jim Nill is using the full CBA leverage, just like St. Louis, Boston, Columbus and Dallas itself with Eakin. When numbers become public, there are hurt feelings. Dillon clearly is disappointed with how this is going.
It's tough to be definitive on this having only heard from one side of the involved parties, but if Dillon is really as disappointed as it sounds, there's probably a perception issue underneath the surface. Remember, Dillon was a late bloomer who went undrafted before being finally signed by the Stars, and he found himself taking top minutes for a lot of the season last year after coming from out of nowhere, more or less. He knows the Stars don't really have anyone who can do what he does right now--maybe in a year or two, but not right now--and it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that he's looking for some recognition for how hard he's worked to get where he is now. This is also the same Brenden Dillon who, we're told, is a gym rat with muscles that can frighten young children (or rookie forwards), so you have to think he takes a lot of pride in his accomplishments. He's done some heavy lifting over the past season for Dallas, and it's tough for him to face the fact that they're not ponying up to the degree he and his agent were hoping.
As for Nill, Friedman's bit says it all: he's using the leverage built into the CBA in an effort to keep his team's costs down as much as reasonably possible. Dillon does not have arbitration rights, so he can sign a deal and play, or he can stay home. Dallas is quantifying his production in ways that Bousquet heartily disagrees with, but the fact that things are leaking out now speaks to how little leverage Dillon has. At the moment, there is really no reason for Dallas to budge. And it's a tough pill to swallow for Dillon to sit at home waiting for his team to struggle enough that his phone rings again. No player really wants things to get to that point.
Some people are raising eyebrows at the fact that Dallas has allegedly refused Dillon the Eakin offer, as Dillon would seem to be a much less replaceable player than Eakin on their roster today. I don't disagree with that, which leads me to conclude that Dallas is probably trying to get Dillon to sign for more than two years in order to reduce his cap hit down the road, when a couple of half-decent players on the top line will be coming up for pretty sizable raises. A two-year deal along Eakin's line right now sets Dillon up for a very good payday when it expires, and Dallas would surely prefer to keep their cap numbers nice and low for a couple of years beyond that until they know just how much they're going to be shelling out for Jamie Benn and company.
Stay tuned. These talks may get a bit worse before they get better, but I do think they will get better. Jim Nill is nobody's fool, and Brenden Dillon is Brenden Dillon. He wants to play.
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Wednesday Links, everybody. Get over it.
Jason Spezza is on the Stars' brand new "Super Scary Power Play." That name needs a little more pizzazz. Maybe, Protacted Power Play Period of Painful Puck Peppering? You have already come up with a better one, probably. [Puck Daddy]
Jim Nill gave a little more info on why Honka was assigned to the AHL. [DMN]
Here is a NESN preview of the Stars from a few days ago that is not overblown. See, New England media? You can do it! [NESN]
Patrick Roy just can't resist pulling goalies out of the net and making them skate across the blue line. And it actually worked really well for the Avs last year. This is what I've been saying, sort of! [The Score]
Evander Kane knows he can score 50 goals. He totally knows it. [The Hockey Writers]
Minnesota is on the "middle-of-the-pack" list from Sean McIndoe's season preview part 2. Dallas is not, which means they are better. Also, I was blown away by the fact that Ovechkin has had five different coaches during his time in Washington. [Grantland]
Not everyone can negotiate the pitfalls of bringing European players over to the States without breaking some rules. Vladimir Tkachev will not be joining Edmonton after all, as Craig MacTavish has yet to bone up on his CBA reading. Call Jim Nill next time, Craig. He's probably better at getting through those thick documents than your current counsel, Barry Zuckercorn. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Ryan Johansen and the Blue Jackets have begun engaging in "civil" and "well-mannered" discussion again, which means only two bowls of mashed potatoes were thrown during dinner. Good on ya, boys. [SportsNet]
Aaron Rome, ladies and gentlemen: Bought Out, Tryout, Sitting out (injured). Bummer of a summer. [Pro Hockey Talk]
I think it was David Castillo that mentioned this Enforcers piece in the comments yesterday. A long and thought-provoking read on the goons, and the writing is fairly sublime. [N+1 Mag]
GoPros aren't just for Referees and tourists anymore! The NHL signed a deal with the maker of those adorable li'l cameras to strap 'em on players' foreheads and everything. I actually would love to see whole shifts from this vantage point, but we'll probably just get fed little 5- to 10-second clips edited together as usual. [THN]
SportsNet has a handy guide for how to pick an NHL franchise, for all four of the SportsNet.ca readers that haven't yet pledged their allegiance to a Canadian NHL franchise. The Leafs/Cowboys comparison is pretty much on point. [SportsNet]
Finally, a bevy of super slow-motion highlights from the preseason thus far. Don't worry, there is at least one Western Conference team in there. Thanks for the mention, NHL!