Tobias Rieder (Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Arizona Coyotes still have one free agent deal to take care of, and that’s with restricted free agent Tobias Rieder. The 23-year-old scored 14 goals and 37 points in 2015-16, but could be headed overseas if a deal can’t be reached with Arizona.
Who would have thought that one of the trickiest restricted free agents to get under contract would be Arizona Coyotes winger Tobias Rieder?
More than a month into the free agency period, Rieder, 23, is still without a new deal with the Coyotes, and it doesn’t seem as though the two sides are inching any closer to settling on a contract that will bring him back to Arizona next season. Rieder is the only remaining RFA the Coyotes have yet to lock up to a new deal for the coming campaign, and Arizona GM John Chayka told AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan that the team has “some work to do” when it comes to inking Rieder.
Rieder suited up in all 82 games for the Coyotes in 2015-16, scoring 14 goals and 37 points, and he’s coming off of a three-year, $2.775-million entry-level deal that saw him earn $925,000 last season. But getting the second deal done has been difficult, and Rieder’s agent said nothing much has changed in terms of contracts talks.
“It’s just status quo,” Rieder’s agent, Darren Ferris, told McLellan. “There’s been no discussions at this point that have made any meaningful change in anyone’s position.”
That Rieder is still without a contract isn’t a promising sign for the Coyotes and could mean the winger is looking at options overseas. Ferris had previously told Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan that the Coyotes and Rieder were “not even close to where we need to be,” and Ferris added that he was exploring European options and deals in the KHL.
Rieder appears to want more in terms of salary than the Coyotes are willing to give, and that appears to be what’s making his re-signing so difficult. Ferris appears to be looking to land Rieder a deal that would pay somewhere in the $3-million rage, suggesting to Morgan that the three-year, $10-million deal Jamie McGinn signed with the Coyotes was a fair comparable.
While advanced statistics may help Rieder’s case, his base numbers give him three close comparables. Over the past 12 months, the Rangers’ Kevin Hayes, Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov and Hurricanes’ Elias Lindholm has all signed extensions or new deals as RFAs. Both Hayes and Lindholm have outscored Rieder by 20-plus points over the past two campaigns, while Namestnikov has scored 23 goals and 57 points to Rieder’s 27 goals and 58 points.
For contract comparisons, Lindholm is making the most money. He signed a two-year, $5.4-million extension with Carolina in August 2015, and the 21-year-old — who was the fifth-overall pick in 2013 — has all the makings of a top-line player for the Hurricanes. Over the past two campaigns, he has scored 28 goals and 78 points.
Next up is Hayes, who inked a two-year, $5.2-million deal to avoid arbitration this summer. Hayes has 31 goals and 81 points in the past two seasons, and the 24-year-old’s 14-goal, 36-point campaign is nearly identical to the year Rieder had in 2015-16.
Then comes Namestnikov, who avoided arbitration by signing a two-year, $3.875-million deal. He and Rieder are nearly identical in age, have scored nearly the same amount of points over the past two seasons and both play important roles on their respective clubs with a significant amount of upside. But at less than $2 million per season, it’s hard to see Ferris’ suggested salary for Rieder meshing with the Namestnikov salary comparable.
As the off-season winds on, the Coyotes will likely continue to attempt to get Rieder locked up, but with the KHL season approaching its start at the end of August, his contract situation will be one to watch.
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