a) Jaroslav Halak will be back in Montreal (signing autographs at Fairview)
b) Andrei Markov is skating alone
c) Sam Gagner signed for 2 years at just under $5 million
It's personal opinion, of course, but I think all three items are important.
The first item, with halak back in town is a bit of an embarassment to the Montreal executives who struggle to sign their chosen starter even with September a day away. Sure, Halak is thanking the fans and Allan Walsh is giving the Habs the finger, but this might also kick someone in those negotiations in the rear.
The second item is obviously great news. Once again it seems Andrei Markov can defy the odds and rehabilitate a serious injury in superhuman time. But in I'll believe it when I see it news, skating alone is often not the best sign of how close a player is to returning. At least Markov isn't just sitting around watching Eurovision, though.
The third item isn't Habs related, but it is RFA-related. A week ago, HabsWorld pundits told us that we shouldn't worry about Price's contract because he was just one of many RFAs unsigned. In their words:
"Everyone's waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop and that includes Price. Some of these players will have to be the first to sign - if they go short-term, those still waiting lose some leverage in shooting for a long-term deal that no one else seems to sign. If the GM's/owners cave and sign the long-term pact for some of these players, then you'll see a greater push for the longer-term deal from those still unsigned, which could really delay the process."
Not sure I agree with everything said there, but I go with the gist, which is precedent. Patric Hornqvist and Sam Gagner are forming the RFA part of the precedent for Carey price's contract. Combine that with the goalie signings of the summer and there are precedents aplenty to suggest Price's value according to league appraisors.
It will be interesting to see where that contract settles, but as more RFA deals fall into place, the NHL news should hot up, if not the Price contract resolution.