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Rantanen, Laine contracts 'not close,' agent says

Avalanche, Jets restricted free agent forwards remain in Europe

by @NHLdotcom

Mikko Rantanen and Patrik Laine likely will not have a new contract any time soon, according to their agent.

"We're not close ... they're high profile guys," Mike Liut, who represents each of the restricted free agents, said on TSN 650 on Wednesday. "... There's nothing happened that we didn't know was going to happen. Nothing has gone on that we didn't anticipate."

Rantanen, a 22-year-old forward for the Colorado Avalanche, had an NHL career-high 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists) in 74 games last season, second on the Avalanche behind center Nathan MacKinnon (99 points; 41 goals, 58 assists), and 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Laine, a 21-year-old forward selected No. 2 by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2016 NHL Draft, had 50 points (30 goals, 20 assists) in 82 games last season and has 110 goals in his first three NHL seasons.

"There's term, there's AAV (average annual value), there's structure, and clubs have to manage their [NHL salary] cap, we have to represent our client," Liut said. "We have our convictions, they have theirs."

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner, who was a restricted free agent, signed a six-year, $65.358 million contract (average annual value $10.893 million) on Friday. He had 94 points last season (26 goals, 68 assists).

"I think Mitch Marner and Mikko Rantanen are probably the two closest comparables in terms of how they play their game," Liut said, "where you have wingers who are adept at creating offense for those that they are playing with."

Rantanen and Laine are among a group of high-profile restricted free agents who remain unsigned, including forwards Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets, Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames and Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I've been browsing all contract news, but haven't read them thoroughly," Rantanen told Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat in comments translated by "Let's just see what happens."

Rantanen said Monday he would join SC Bern in Switzerland to train while he remains without an NHL contract. Laine has been practicing with SC Bern since Sunday.

"We'll take it one day at a time," Rantanen said. "Due to the current situation, we can't make any long-term plans. We're leaving Bern next week at the latest."

The Avalanche and Jets have begun playing preseason games and each begins the regular season on Oct. 3; Colorado hosts the Flames and Winnipeg visits the New York Rangers. independent correspondent Sami Haapasalo contributed to this report

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