Why Hasn't Sheppard Signed Yet?

The Minnesota Wild have made their splash in the 2011 offseason, and it has been a noticeable one. A big trade at the draft, another big trade shortly after, a couple small UFA signings, only one re-signing of the UFA ranks, and they have inked all of their RFAS.

Except one.

James Sheppard is the lone unsigned RFA, although he was qualified per the rules of the CBA. We heard weeks ago that the deal was "all but signed," leaving us to wonder why now, with roughly six weeks to camp, Sheppard remains unsigned.

After the jump, some serous discussion, and some very much not serious discussion.

There are many reasons why an athlete might decide to hold off signing a contract at some point in their career. If they believe their contributions have been greater than the compensation being offered, if they feel they deserve a one way deal after toiling for years in the minors, or if they think holding out can get them any number of benefits.

It is difficult to believe that Sheppard, or his agent, are sitting around thinking that his six points in 64 games in 2009-10, his completely lost season to an ATV accident last year (that we hear may not be fully healed yet), or his career forty-nine points are worthy of a hold out. The only serious answer we can come up with is he wants a one way deal, but with the roster pretty much set, save for a couple spots being left open for competition, Sheppard needs to grasp the reality in front of him.

He cannot sign with anyone else in the NHL without compensation to the Wild. The offer sheets are not going to roll in, he was mercifully qualified by a team that had no need to do so, and his career path has followed that of Coloton Gillies, not Alex Ovechkin. It is time for him to take a year in Houston and improve his game. Whether or not he will do that is up to him and his agent, otherwise, there are some teams looking for help in Mother Russia.

Having explored the logical (or not so much) reasons the deal might not be complete, we now turn to the completely irrational reasons. In comic sans for added emphasis.

1. Not happy with the "Polaris clause" in the deal.

2. Floated out of the building before he could sign the contract.

3. Holding out for "Kobe Bryant Cam Barker money."

4. Sprained his thumb playing COD at Cal Clutterbuck's bachelor party.

5. The poison pill that did not allow Sheppard on road trips to Colorado.

6. Chuck Fletcher refused to replace "Let's play hockey" chant with "This one's for Scotia."

7. Dany Heatley stole "his" number.

8. Showed up to sign the deal, stormed out because the contract was "written in Sanskrit." Turns out, it was simply a couple paragraphs explaining that the Wild wanted to "score goals" this year.

9. Asked about the hold out, Sheppard replied "Wait, they offered me a contract? Holy shit!"

10. When Sheppard went to sign the deal, Greg Zanon dove across the table and blocked the pen.

For all of you asking (no one) why Sheppard has not signed yet, here is your explanation: he, or his agent, are delusional. There is no reason for him to not sign any deal the Wild are willing to give him. His NHL career is hanging in the balance, and it is time to face reality. Unless, of course, they really think he is worth Cam Barker money.

If you have a guess, rational or not, about why Sheppard has not signed, please add it in the comment section. Have fun. It's only July 28th. We still have 72 days until games that count.

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