With less than a month before NHL training camps get underway, there are still more than 20 restricted free agents without contracts. Big names like Mitch Marner, Matthew Tkachuk, Charlie McAvoy and Brayden Point all remain without contracts - Colorado Avalanche all star forward Mikko Rantanen is in the same boat.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet was in Finland last week to speak with fellow RFA Patrik Laine, and while he was overseas, the reporter had a chance to speak with Rantanen. On a radio hit last night, Johnston mentioned that while nothing concrete came out of his meeting with Rantanen, it is believed by the 22-year old that a deal between himself and the Avalanche “isn’t far off”.
Chris Johnston (one of the absolute best in the business) was on Sportsnet radio in Toronto this afternoon and mentioned he spoke with Mikko Rantanan while he was in Finland last week. Nothing on the record but CJ says he believes a deal isn't far off.— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) August 20, 2019
Despite that report last night, news out of Finland this morning suggests that Rantanen is keeping all of his options open in case a new contract doesn’t come before the start of the season. Mikko mentioned to Finnish Sports outlet Iltalehti that he is set to travel to Hamar, Norway next week to begin training with Storhamar of the GET league.
Strohamar is currently coached by Miika Elomo who coached Rantanen during his time with TPS of Liiga. One time Minnesota Wild forward, Petteri Nummelin is also on the coaching staff in Strohamar - Nummelin was the captain on TPS during Rantanen’s draft season.
Though he is still likely to be with the Avalanche on opening night, this is the first step to prove Rantanen has options. It’s a long shot right now, but Elomo did mention that if there is no new contract with the Avs, Strohamar will have a contract ready.
Unsigned RFAs skating with professional teams in Europe is nothing new - reports yesterday also suggest that Marner has been in contact with the Zurich Lions of the NLA in case he is unable to get a deal done with the Maple Leafs before camp. This shouldn’t sound too many alarm bells, but it could put a little bit of pressure on Joe Sakic to get the new deal done sooner than later.
It is believed that both sides are hopeful to get a long term contract done with Rantanen looking for a reported average-annual value in the $10m range.
Will Mikko Rantanen be in Denver for the first day of training camp?
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