Even though I have moved on from this topic (ha ha), I had the following thought while driving around cursing the absence of hockey news on the radio:
(Oh, the topic is Kovalchuk, by the way)
- If there's more than one suitor, then it's a lie to say anybody is "finalizing" anything. Finalizing implies an agreement, after which the kinks are worked out. It's not finalizing if you're still considering other offers.
- If there's only one suitor in reality, and the agent announces that they're finalizing the deal, this can only mean (1) they just agreed on the broad-strokes of the deal fifteen minutes ago and now they're hashing out the salaries in all the different years of the contract (it doesn't take longer than a few minutes to work out whether the player should get 4MM in year 8, or 3MM; it's a technicality, the point being the general principle of, for example, a front-loaded or back-loaded contract, and what the "curve" looks like; and, in fact, no GM would ever allow the closing of a deal to take more than a couple of minutes because obviously as long as the deal is not closed, the agent still has negotiating power and can still close a different deal somewhere else; so we can rule out 1; (2) they haven't accepted any offers, which of course means they don't like any of the offers. Which of course means that "finalizing" is just a re-packaging of yesterday's "decision by the end of the day" bluff.
Obviously, the correct answer is (2).
So, if they don't like the offers -- in which case they have every reason to wait it out while trying to create the impression of something imminent ABOUT TO HAPPEN THIS VERY SECOND SO BID YOU BASTARDS BID! -- what exactly don't they like about them?
What is there in a deal that you might not like?
- Not enough money over-all (salary/cap hit).
- Not enough money in certain years.
- Not long enough (term).
- Too long (term).
- Team isn't good enough.
- Team has GM/coach/player that the player doesn't like.
- Team is located in a place the player doesn't want to live.
That's it, really.
Now, let's look at New Jersey, since everyone seems to think they're the front-runners. If the problem is not enough money, then IK is delaying in an attempt to squeeze more money out of Lamoriello, or, for that matter, out of Lombardi. I suspect he will be waiting a long time if that's the case. If it's #2, then they would solve the problem in about 30 seconds. #3 would not be an issue, either, because Lou (or any other GM) would be happy to make it a longer-term deal (since that would help bring the cap hit down). #4? Well, that's easily fixable, and I think that's another roadblock they could get around in about a half a minute, but it might send us back to problem #1 (with mega-contracts, shorter term means higher cap hit). The last three aren't going to change in time to make a difference. New Jersey would have to dump salary to fit him in, but they would have to do it after the fact. They wouldn't be able to bring in more people to IK's liking, unless they traded away yet more people; and, in any case, all of that happens after there's a deal. It's not going to stop the deal from happening. So, no matter what, we end up back at #1.
#1. There's really no way around the fact that whatever New Jersey has offered, it's not good enough. Or he would have accepted it. Maybe, come to think of it, Lombardi was sending up a very public flare when he said to reporters that the Kings were not upping their offer.
Oh, yeah: The Islanders. Conventional wisdom is, stories of their offer were bogus. But if it weren't, then we would certainly be looking at #5 or #7 (and maybe #6) to explain why he hasn't accepted. None of which is going to change any time soon.
Bottom line: the deals aren't sweet enough, and he's waiting for more sugar. From wherever.
That's our new definition of "finalizing."