(UPDATE: Full arbitration list at the end of the post.)
As we pointed out Monday morning, even the most cap-strapped teams needn't worry about getting their restricted free agents poached, and that went double for the Chicago Blackhawks and Stanley Cup-winning goalie and restricted free agent Antti Niemi(notes).
No player with 37 career regular-season starts is going to get slipped a big-money offer sheet, no matter his ring size. The only way he wasn't coming back was if the Blackhawks couldn't afford to have him back, but they've cleared enough room to re-sign him without even making Cristobal Huet(notes) disappear yet.
Monday was the deadline for salary arbitration filings, and ESPN Chicago reports that Niemi beat the clock:
Niemi's Chicago-based agent Bill Zito, who confirmed the filing, and Hawks general manager Stan Bowman continue to discuss various opportunities for long-term and short-term deals. A date for the arbitration hearing for a one-year deal is expected to be established in the next few weeks.
If he signs a one-year contract, whether it's through arbitration or negotiation, Niemi becomes an unrestricted free agent next year because he'll be 27 years old. Niemi made $827,000 last season.
There's still time to work out the longer-term deal Niemi's camp has been reportedly keen on, but this feels like an impasse of some sort between the sides that needs resolving.
That's a wall we'd like to be a fly on: Arbitration for a player who nearly made his entire case in the postseason.
Other arbitration filings Monday are as interesting as the non-filings.
Among the arbitration news Monday: Gilbert Brule(notes) of the Edmonton Oilers; Andrew Ladd(notes) of the Atlanta Thrashers; Ian White(notes) of the Calgary Flames; Blake Wheeler(notes) of the Boston Bruins (but not Mark Staurt, via Joe Haggerty); Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers (via LeBrun); Chris Campoli(notes) of the Ottawa Senators; Mason Raymond(notes) of the Vancouver Canucks (via Nucks Misconduct) and a trio of Washington Capitals whose cases are worth watching: Tomas Fleischmann(notes), Eric Fehr(notes) and Jeff Schultz(notes). From the Washington Post's Tarik El-Bashir, who notes that Fleischmann could be looking for a raise from $725,000 to around $2.75 million:
For players, arbitration can be an ego-crushing, hard-feelings-creating route to earning a raise. Some teams, including the Caps, have a reputation for being ruthless in their arguments.
It's also risky for the clubs. After all, how many times have you seen an award and asked yourself, "He got how much?"
If the sides can't reach an agreement in the coming weeks, Caps' capologist Don Fishman, the player, the player's agent, and perhaps a representative from the NHLPA, will convene for arbitration hearing between July 20 and Aug. 4 in Toronto. We should know exact dates in the next few days.
Always a squirmy time, these arbitration cases. From the NHLPA, the full list:
Thirty-one players have elected Salary Arbitration:
New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues
The deadline for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration notification is July 6, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20 to August 4, 2010.