July 06, 2011
There were 23 NHL players who filed for salary arbitration on Tuesday … and then there were 22: Marc Methot(notes) filed out of function but instructed his agent to get a deal done with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The defenseman signed a 4-year, $12-million contract to avoid arbitration.
And really, who doesn't want to avoid arbitration? It's a nasty process that has a boss criticizing his employee's performance in order to keep his salary down. We'll always recall the vivid picture former Senators GM Rick Dudley painted to James Mirtle about an arbitration case against former Ottawa forward Shawn McEachern:
"We tried to reduce him to rubble," Dudley said. "I really wasn't involved. [Current Pittsburgh Penguins GM] Ray Shero at the time was my assistant, and he did a masterful job. But boy oh boy, it's hard to watch a player that you wanted in your organization go through that.
"Shawn McEachern, who is a very good guy, he was visibly shaken by the whole process. But that's the way you do things. You have to because the other side's going to say Shawn McEachern's(notes) the reincarnation of Guy Lafleur. You almost have to balance it out. It's a very, very difficult process to me. It's not a nice thing."
Yikes … who wants to go through that?
Here are some of the more interesting arbitration filings of Summer 2011, with a look at which cases might be heard and what these restricted free agents might actually get out of their teams before a hearing.
Note: Sergei Kostitsyn(notes) of the Nashville Predators would make this list, but we're still waiting to see how that whole restricted free agent filing snafu plays out. Also, we're covering the filings from Tuesday; there are other players up for arbitration as well like Zach Parise(notes) and Shea Weber(notes).
Defenseman Andrej Sekera(notes), 25, filed for arbitration after making $1.25 million last season, when he scored 29 points (3 goals, 26 assists, playing an average of 21:05 a night) for his best offensive year as a pro. For comparison's sake, Trevor Daley(notes) of the Dallas Stars scored 27 points last season at age 27, and is making $3.5 million next season. But he's a more accomplished offensive defenseman than Sekara.
Agent Allan Walsh said the filing was "a continuation of the process in the CBA as both sides continue to negotiate a longer term contract."
Part of that process? The Sabres currently have $354,643 in cap space with six defensemen signed for next season. Something's gotta give for Sekera to fit in.
Check out "So You've Filed For Player-Elected Salary Arbitration" by Blue, Black and Gold for more.
Never a dull moment when it comes to Chicago and restricted free agency.
Defenseman Chris Campoli(notes) and winger Viktor Stalberg(notes) both filed for arbitration, one year after the cavalcade of fun that was Niklas Hjalmarsson's(notes) offer sheet and Antti Niemi's(notes) arbitration award. ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers looked at the new cases for GM Stan Bowman:
Campoli's side must be looking at Steve Montador's(notes) deal and licking their chops. Montador signed a four-year, $11 million contract on Thursday. Word has it Campoli is looking to top that deal by asking for $3 million per season. He's five years younger and just one year away from unrestricted free-agency while Montador was one day away. They're different kinds of players but in the same salary structure. Montador made $1.5 million last season and Campoli made $1.4.
Cases that go to arbitration most often favor the player so if the Hawks had signed Campoli before they traded for Montador maybe they get a better rate. It's similar to Hjalmarsson's situation last summer. If signed before July 1, the Hawks pay Hjalmarsson much less. Waiting hurt, just as it might again.
Rogers doesn't expect Stalberg's case to make it to arbitration as he "has very little on his resume."
May we suggest an unpaid internship? It's worth it for the networking.
As writer Arpon Basu points out in his in-depth analysis of defenseman Josh Gorges'(notes) arbitration case, the 26-year-old Habs' numbers don't necessarily indicate anything about his true value. He expects Gorges to re-sign with Montreal before this case is heard; the question is what that contract will look like.
Gorges can go unrestricted next summer, and has voiced a desire to sign a long-term deal with the Canadiens. From Pat Hickey of the Gazette, Montreal appears to want one too:
Gorges, who missed more than half of last season because of a knee injury that required surgery, rejected the qualifying offer of $1.3 million. Money won't be as much of an issue as the term of the contract. Gorges is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2012, and the Canadiens may want to get a contract that extends a few seasons beyond that date.
Having arbitration as a last resort should hasten this deal.
It's a good thing because they're protected from offer sheets, even if the notion of some poor team pissing off a franchise with Cablevision money in its veins was a bit farfetched. It's a good thing because it allows the Rangers to have a second buyout period in August ... and Wojtek Wolski(notes) makes $3.8 million, coincidentally.
Will it end up being a good thing monetarily? Larry Brooks of the NY Post explains:
It's fair to project that bookend foundation pieces Callahan and Dubinsky will come in at somewhere between $3.7 million and $4.4 million per season. It's safe to say Sauer, prime for an offer sheet that inexplicably did not materialize over the last four days, will be in at between $1.5 million and $2 million. Boyle is a tougher case, coming off his first productive year in the NHL, but he likely will come in between $1.25 million and $1.75 million.
As Brooks noted, Boyle's an interesting one: 21 goals and 14 assists last season, after just 12 goals and 4 assists in his previous 107 NHL games. Could he fare better in arbitration? GM Glen Sather probably won't let it get to that point.
The other interesting aspect of these negotiations: Term, especially for Callahan. From NorthJersey.com:
Dubinsky's agent, Kurt Overhardt, called filing "part of the process" while Callahan's agent, Steve Bartlett said talks so far had been "amicable" but said Callahan would be attractive as an unrestricted free agent, which he could be next summer.
"The Rangers have been complimentary about Cally and the role he plays, I don't think anybody doubts that," Bartlett said. "I know he's a coveted player around the league. Fast forward a year and see what Ryan Callahan could demand on the market."
Right wing Teddy Purcell(notes), 25, was a 51-point player last season for the Lightning, and will seek a considerable raise from the $750,000 he made in 2010-11. Will this get to arbitration? From Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune:
The sides are free to continue negotiations leading up to the arbitration case, and Hughes said he expects to be in contact with the team soon.
"It's our intention to get a contract done and we know he'll be in the lineup; worst case scenario we go to arbitration, get an award and he'll be in our lineup next year,'' Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. "I'm not concerned about it. We will get a contract done one way or another and we hope to do it before we get to arbitration.''
Yzerman does have a thing or two that might take precedence over a Teddy Purcell contract.
Jannik Hansen(notes), 25, is one of the Canucks' key penalty killers who can provide some offensive punch. He made $825,000 last season, and the Canucks tell The Province they'll keep working at a new deal:
Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman said the two sides are still communicating.
"We'll continue to have dialogue," said Gilman, over the phone from Hilton Head, S.C., where he is attending the American Hockey League summer meetings. "In past when players have filed for salary arbitration, we've at times settled it before or if it ends up in a hearing we'll take a professional approach."
The Province projects the Canucks have about $3.7 million cap space at the moment.
Has Blake Wheeler(notes) filed every year since the lockout, or does it just feel that way? Wheeler, 25, filed for arbitration but all signs point to his inking a new deal with the Thrashers-turned-Jets:
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is encouraged by the nature of the negotiations. "We had great conversations with his representative (Tuesday) and those will be ongoing," said Cheveldayoff. "The fact he filed for salary arbitration doesn't mean much at this time. We have a lot of time to get a deal done."
The Wheeler camp feels the same way. "Looking at all scenarios," agent Matt Keator said in a text message, when asked if a long-term extension or a one-year deal was more likely. "Still have more talking to do, but off to a good start."
When he signs, expect another round of glowing "this player chose our city, so suck it Winnipeg haters" columns like this one on Andrew Ladd. Or so we can only hope.
This post is based on the filings from Tuesday; there are other arbitrations possible, like Shea Weber and Zach Parise that we've discussed previously.