In spite of the fact that there were a number of restricted free agents who carried their contract negotiations past the point at which teams in the National Hockey League had started their training camps, there was always a sense that a deal would eventually get done in each one of those cases.
That has largely born out to be true with players like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes eventually signing with the Vancouver Canucks, but one player that remains unsigned at the time of this writing is young Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk. The tone of the conversation surrounding Tkachuk was also largely positive coming into last week, it was then however that there was a noticeable shift in that tone.
NHL insider Darren Dreger recently mentioned that a bridge deal between the two sides could lead to talk of a potential trade, comments that created quite the reaction from fans in Ottawa on social media. Talk of a trade may be premature, even Dreger himself would go on to clarify that he was talking about a specific scenario that could occur a few years down the line, but it may be fair to suggest that this is the time for genuine concern about this contract dispute.
Another insider recently revealed that, despite his usually optimistic nature, the time to start worrying about Tkachuk in Ottawa could be just days away.
"I still think there's time to sort it out this week, however I do think if it's not done by puck drop then there is reason to worry," said NHL insider Elliotte Friedman during Saturday night's NHL preseason broadcast.
Thankfully for the Senators they don't play on the first few days of the NHL schedule so there is still some significant time between now and that inevitable puck drop. The Senators season is set to begin this coming Thursday at 7:00 pm EST when they will face off against their inter provincial rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs, a timeframe of roughly four days before Friedman believes it will be time for concern.
Every passing day equals one less day for Tkachuk to adequately prepare himself for the upcoming season alongside his fellow teammates, something both Tkachuk's camp and the Senators are hopefully diligently seeking to avoid.