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McDavid says restricted free agents need just 'one domino to fall'

Oilers center discusses glut of unsigned young players, collective bargaining agreement

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Connor McDavid said he believes when one of the big-name NHL restricted free agents signs, the others will follow soon after.

The Edmonton Oilers captain just isn't sure when that will happen.

"It's obviously a unique situation where there's a lot of star players that are sitting out right now," the Oilers center said Monday at the annual BioSteel Camp. "I think it'll just take one domino to fall and they'll all fall pretty quick. But someone's going to have to set that mark."

 

[RELATED: McDavid 'working hard to get to camp' with Oilers after knee injury]

 

The restricted free agents who remain unsigned with NHL training camps a little more than two weeks away include forwards Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets, Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks, Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche, and Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, and defensemen Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins, Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

McDavid said he never wanted to be in that situation.

"I didn't want to be sitting here and not going to training camp," he said. "That was my biggest fear, honestly."

McDavid, the No. 1 selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, assured he would never become a restricted free agent when he signed an eight-year, $100 million extension with Edmonton on July 5, 2017, four days after becoming eligible to sign the contract. He said he never considered a so-called bridge deal as he approached the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract.

"Ultimately, it was a pretty easy deal," McDavid said. "(Former Oilers GM) Peter [Chiarelli], at the time, was great to work with, and my agent obviously did a great job as well. It was a quick process. It wasn't anything we needed to wait over."

Video: Analyzing the most valuable restricted free agents

McDavid said the impressive group of unsigned restricted free agents this offseason reflects the rise of young players making their marks in the NHL, adding that's why it's important for them to take keen interest in the situation involving the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHL Players' Association.

"We're the guys it will affect the most," he said. "We're the players who are going to be playing in the next CBA, so we have to step up and come together and come to an agreement that will benefit both sides."

The 10-year CBA ratified in January 2013 is approaching two important deadlines. Through Sept. 1, the NHL can exercise its option for early termination, which would end the CBA on Sept. 15, 2020. If the NHL has not already done so, the NHLPA has until Sept. 15 to choose early termination.

If each side passes on early termination, the CBA would expire Sept. 15, 2022.

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