Thanks to George Malik over at Kuklas Korner for doing the legwork in finding and roughly translating this report from Hokejportal.net's Pavol Rajtar:
The qualifying offer with a salary of $800,000 is still on the table from the end of June, when Tomas Jurco was offered that contract. The new contract isn't ready yet, but the Kosice native is close to one. The contract will be signed and very likely will be for two years.
The signing of the new contract with Detroit's taken longer than you expected?
"I don't know, I didn't have any expectations. It's probably a little longer than other players, but is as usual. We're almost at the end, and from the beginning I didn't have any fears that in a few days we'd conclude it."
So you're not nervous?
"Not at all. The contract is more or less ready. We probably know what we'll sign. There's some uncertainty, but the whole time I knew I would sign, and it's simple negotiating as usual for contracts."
Has the contract changed significantly from the qualifying offer?
"The raise is minimal, it's difficult to speculate about major changes. The team gave the offer, and there's room to negotiate. It will only be a minor change. As I said, we're almost at the end."
The rest of the report is available on Malik's site to read, it includes some candid talk from Jurco about why he'd choose two years instead of one on this contract.
Jurco, who will be 23 this year, is almost a full year younger than Teemu Pulkkinen. He will remain a restricted free agent regardless of whether he signs one or two years. He will also gain salary arbitration rights regardless of a one or two-year deal. However, the thing that convinced him to take an extra year is concerns over his lingering back issues. Jurco missed time with back problems last year and eventually had to leave Team Slovakia in the World Championships because of injury. He says he's not fully healed up yet, but is getting better.
Put simply, if his back issues slow him down this season, he'll have all of next year to earn a good payday. The risk is higher for him doing that this season.
Part of what I love about foreign language reports is that the answers the players tend to give in their home countries seem a lot more forthcoming. Jurco hasn't really hidden things from the North American press, but there always seems to be a bit more comfort and candidness from overseas.
Hopefully we'll see this deal come out soon so we can hurry up and spend the rest of the summer worrying about what exactly is going to happen with the Wings' cap situation. Unless Jurco comes in at $750K or less, it seems Detroit is going to have to use LTIR or other moves to gain cap compliance once the season begins.