What’s the holdup on the Chris Tanev negotiations?

When Chris Tanev passed on hiring an agent to negotiate his second contract, instead opting to make it a family affair and bring his dad into the room, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before the Canucks announced an extension.

Sure, we may have underestimated the headache hockey dads can be, as evidenced by the whole Cody Hodgdon fiasco, not to mention Tony Gallagher’s recent profile of Gilbert Brule, whom the Canucks passed over a few years back, we learned, largely due to the meddlesome influence of his dad. But even still — with the casual approach Tanev and Mr. Tanev were taking to negotiations, it seemed unlikely that said negotiations would drag unsettlingly on into the summer.

But in Mid-June, crap got real. Tanev handed the talks over to a real agent, Vancouver-based Ross Gurney. His father said this was to “hopefully bring this to a quick conclusion”. That was almost a month ago. The hoped-for “quick conclusion” is now beginning to resemble the ending of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the only feature-length conclusion in movie history. What’s the holdup?

The whole thing became even more concerning on July 5th, when negotiations exceeded the free agency period. Now Tanev, like an egg in boiling water, is in danger of being poached.

But Tanev’s poaching would be far less delicious, and not just because there will be no hollandaise sauce.

And yet the Canucks are showing no urgency whatsoever. It’s a tactic, albeit a risky one. Tanev has no arbitration rights, so his only leverage, at this point, is that he could be offer-sheeted by another team, and thus it would behoove the Canucks to agree to terms on the quick. Of course, if the Canucks are in a hurry, they won’t get the deal they want.

Signing an RFA is not unlike the art of wooing. You’ve gotta play it cool, hotshot. Don’t seem too eager. Don’t text her, bro.

As a result, there’s very little going on.

“We have dialogue from time to time but it’s been very, very slow moving,” Gurney told Elliott Pap earlier in the week. “Restricted free agents without arbitration rights are in a classification all their own. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency right now but, eventually, we’ll make progress.”

Here’s the other issue holding this thing up, and it’s the reason the Canucks are quite comfortable to let Tanev dangle out there in no man’s land: no one really has any idea who or what Tanev is. Who are his comparables?

Pap listed Jake Muzzin, Brendan Smith, and Nick Leddy, all of whom recently signed bridge contracts (the deal players often sign between their entry-level one and their usually larger third contract) with cap hits of $2.7M, $1.2625M, and $1M, respectively. No doubt the Canucks are hoping Tanev falls somewhere around the latter two, and they’ve already likely pointed out that both Smith and Leddy have more career points in fewer games.

This is a problem for Tanev: he hasn’t produced much offensively. He has two career NHL goals. Two. Sure, he looks like he might be on the precipice of top-four defenceman status, but he hasn’t played much in the top-four and when he has, it’s been against soft competition. If his development stalls in the slightest and he maxes out at a 4/5 guy, how much are you really willing to pay for that?

Keep in mind that the Canucks will match almost any offer below $3 million, so your contract for Tanev, a guy with two NHL goals, only a handful of games in a meaningful role, and higher-scoring comparables with cap hits of just over a million, is going to have to be substantial.

There aren’t a lot of GMs that are going to take that risk, and the Canucks know it.

And so we wait.

14 comments

  1. JanBan
    July 18, 2013

    We’re expecting Chris Tanev to experience a sense of urgency? Are we watching the same Chris Tanev?

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    Rating: +45 (from 47 votes)
    • Colby
      July 18, 2013

      Hah yes! Tanev is going to hold out until the last minute and then slip the check and make a smooth outlet pass.

      I hope MG doesn’t let one of his better signings get away.

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  2. MB13
    July 18, 2013

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    As much as I don’t like Mike Gillis, the one area where he does excel is contract negotiations – especially for re-signing his own players (if you pretend the Sestito deal doesn’t exist).

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    • Andy
      July 18, 2013

      I think it is Larry G doing the negotiating….

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  3. James W.
    July 18, 2013

    Incredible timing. I was just about to text a girl I’m wooing, and then you told me not to. It was a good reminder.

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    • Kyle
      July 18, 2013

      Have you told your 4 children?

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  4. Mack
    July 18, 2013

    My guess is $1.85M x 2 years.

    Also think their number one priority right now is wooing Lui. I’d expect we’ll hear about an extension pretty soon after Lui recommits to the team.

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  5. Aaron
    July 18, 2013

    Well I for one think Tanev is a great player and I would like to see him locked up now for a longer contract. But the Canucks will most likly have to make it a smaller amount for a shorter time. He’s such a calm cool player! Too bad they are so close to the cap.

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  6. Mel
    July 18, 2013

    Glad to see this article, I’ve been wondering what the hold-up is. Since they’re so close to the cap, they can’t really sign any other players without knowing what Tanev’s number is. I hope it’s not a case of trying to screw a player to the wall now and paying a bigger price later. I’m pretty sure that between GMMG, Gilman, and their staff, they are capable of doing more than one thing at a time and should get this done! However, they certainly seem to be putting out fires one after the other.

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  7. akidd
    July 18, 2013

    i’m sure they’ll ‘get ‘er done’. tanev is so much more valuable than his point total.

    speaking of signing players. how bout them sedins? not a word about an extension as they enter the final year of their contract. how does that slip by as a talking point in this hockey-mad market?

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  8. JDM
    July 18, 2013

    “Tanev has no leverage and thus the Canucks are dragging this out” seems to be the prevailing viewpoint as to why this is taking so long. And yet, when the season ended, I speculated on a two year, 1.6M AAV contract, and was scoffed at, here and elsewhere. “He’ll never command that much”, I was told. “Try somewhere in the low 1M, probably not over 1.2″.

    Now, that may end up being correct, but as time goes on, I see a lot more people predicting higher and higher values on the contract he’ll inevitably sign. Which suggests to me that the longer this drags on, the higher his perceived value inflates. The extent to which that reflects actual negotiations is an open question.

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  9. Comparables
    July 19, 2013

    Leddy isn’t a comparable IMO. He’s played twice as many games and has 6 times as many points as Tanev.

    Muzzin Martinez (LA), Scandella (Minny), Smith (Det) are comparables. All have signed between $1-1.3M contracts per yr. Rumor on the street is Tanev was looking for $2M, which would probably explain why he opted for an agent. No way his daddy was gonna get him that, still no way his agent is gonna get him that either.

    It’s interesting that Gillis hasn’t signed a single RFA yet. He’s signed some crap UFAs. Wonder if somethings cooking? There’s no way he can go into next season with the same team…. right? The same team that nearly got swept in 2 consecutive 1st round exits? Right!!??

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    • PB
      July 19, 2013

      I don’t think it’s that unusual. Most teams seem to be resigning their RFAs in drips and drabs — we keep seeing new announcements each day. I think unlike the UFAs (and at that really only the first day and then the first week) this is a long-term project and you’re not going to get far negotiating with all of them at the same time. This team is not going to be the same as that of the last two years. I think it will be one in transition and one that will be needed given our aging players. But I’d rather see the Canucks start to play more of their young players than fill their lineup with aging ones of dubious worth anyway.

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  10. J21
    July 19, 2013

    If, indeed, the Canucks will match anything up to $3M, if I’m a rival GM, I’m offer-sheeting him around $2.75M to screw over the Canucks right now. I know a lot of people think GMs have “too much honor” to do this to one another — something I don’t actually buy — but in a league where only about half the teams make the playoffs these days, you have to look for any advantage you can get. And doing that would pretty much force the Canucks to get worse in order to fit under the cap and ice a whole roster.

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