Transcript from Lightning GM Julien BriseBois' conference call after re-signing forward Brayden Point to a three-year contract.
What does it mean to get this done with this timing?
BriseBois: Obviously, I think both Brayden and his agent, Gerry Johannson, and myself…we all wanted to get this done as quickly as possible. I mentioned throughout the summer that this is a process and it takes a certain amount of times, sometimes contracts come more quickly than other times, what matters the most to us right now…we can't mention how happy our organization is to know that Brayden will be joining our group shortly here. Knowing that he will be part of our organization not only for the next three years, but the plan is to extend him beyond his three-year term here. Him and all the other players we've been able to lock up over the last few years gives us a really good nucleus that we feel good about for the foreseeable future here in Tampa. It's very promising for our organization and for our fans. I would be remised if I didn't mention that I'm well aware that there's a narrative that our players have over the last few years, worked with the organization to come to terms on contracts that allow us to keep our players and keep our group going forward and allow us to have the best team possible on the ice. Brayden is the latest example of that and it all started with Steven Stamkos a few years back. By no means do we take that for granted, and we'd like to thank Brayden for working with us here and giving us the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup not only for this season, but for the coming years as well.
These things kind of have a life of their own and they take the time that they take. I would like to mention to everyone that Brayden did have hip surgery in the Spring. At this point and throughout, it was always projected that he would be cleared to play at some point in late October. So even though we are very happy that we were able to get a deal done here, Brayden will be joining the team…I believe he's traveling on Wednesday to Fort Lauderdale. We don't except him to be playing in any preseason games, we don't expect him to be ready for the season opener, but obviously having him around and being with his teammates and practicing with them, having daily treatments from our superb staff here…all of that will benefit him and our team. Hopefully we will get Brayden back in the lineup as quickly as possible.
It's a process and everything takes its own course, every negotiation is its own process, but it goes 10 days into training camp…how hard is it to not flinch or just stand what you think is best for the team and try to make it work were both sides end up were something really fits the team?
BriseBois: Ultimately what matters is that both sides come to an agreement. That both sides are happy because this is not just getting Brayden Point in training camp this week. We have an ongoing relationship with Brayden, like I mentioned he's under contract now for the next three years, but I fully expect that this relationship will go beyond that term. We want to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the terms and it takes the time that it takes. I mentioned previously, these players are in the situation where they're restricted free agents with no salary arbitration rights. It's harder, there's no date that guides us towards getting a deal done. There's no specific deadline I guess, other than the Dec. 1 deadline, no one wants to deal with that…we obviously want the player by the beginning of the season and the player wants to be there by the opening of the season. There's nothing to guide us towards a specific date and it's hard to pinpoint a number and a term. Every organization is different and they're working on different models so the marketplace is literally all over the place. We've seen that this past offseason where young players signed different types of contracts with different organizations. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters to us is that we were able to come to terms on a contract with Brayden and both Brayden and the organization are happy with the terms of the contract.
Were you comfortable, especially with the third year going up, with what would be in year four?
BriseBois: In every negotiation there's some give and take. Ultimately, we feel this contract allows us to keep our nucleus for the coming years. It allows us to get Brayden in the full parts of the new season. There's a lot of reasons why I like this contract, but the two key reasons are that Brayden Point is under contract so I'll be able to count on his services for this season, and he's under contract for the next three years at a cap number that allows us to keep our core together maintain our level of competitiveness for the near future here.
BriseBois: Well every contract negation is different. There are a lot of unknowns in regards to the contracts we are going to have to do over the next 12 months here, starting with what the cap is going to be, the performance of the players whose contracts are going to be up…there's a number of variables that we don't control and we don't have all the information yet. Every negotiation is different, but I think over the years we have gone with this model of doing bridge deals, shorter term deals which lower the cap for these contracts and it allows us to keep more of our good players. These players on their third contracts usually sign long term contracts and stay within our organization. It's a model that has worked well with us so far and has kept us competitive. That's certainly what's part of the rationale for doing a three-year deal in this particular instance.
Does your history of signing those long-term contracts help going forward with negotiations?
BriseBois: I do think part of the argument is that players who have worked with us, they have been rewarding in the fact that we tell them "work with us and we're going to make sure you're on a competitive team" and we have been a competitive team for the last four or five years…eventually, you will sign that big contract and stay with our organization long term. Every time we have one of those contracts, we have one of those presences probably helps to convince them that yeah, this could work for them.
Are there long-term concerns about Brayden Point's injury?
BriseBois: There is no long-term concern. We have had a number of players with this issue in the past that have had this specific surgery and they have fully recovered. I think it's an accumulation of wear and tear over the years. I don't think it's one acute incident that created this. It's just wear and tear over the years…I talked to Brayden today, he said he's feeling really well and better than he felt prior to surgery. He's pain free at this point and is almost back to normal. He has a follow-up appointment with the doctor soon here, and we will get a better read on where he is in terms of his rehab at this point.
Is Brayden Point returning to the ice late October or to games?
BriseBois: Late October to play regular season games. He is skating, he has been skating for a number of weeks. Barb Underhill, our skating instructor, actually skated with him a few weeks back in Calgary. Once he joins the group in Florida, he will be skating with the team…he will just be non-contact for the time being.