When Dale Tallon and the Chicago Blackhawks made their titanic restricted free agent qualifying offer blunder in 2009, the NHLPA filed a grievance in an attempt to help eight players go unrestricted.
Rather than leave their fate in the hands of an arbitrator, the Blackhawks proactively signed all eight to new deals — some getting market value, and others like Kris Versteeg(notes) hitting the jackpot.
The Nashville Predators have a hearing scheduled to begin on Friday for their own RFA qualifying offer goof, as the NHLPA is arguing that the team didn't send out offers to the players by a 5 p.m. deadline on June 27. Like Tallon did two years ago, GM David Poile has decided to get ahead of the issue by re-signing four players at issue:
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed forwards Matt Halischuk(notes) and Nick Spaling(notes) to two-year contracts, and forwards Chris Mueller(notes) and Cal O'Reilly(notes) to one-year deals.
Halischuk's contract is worth $1.425 million, paying him $600,000 in 2011-12 and $825,000 in 2012-13 while Spaling's contract is worth $2.1 million, paying him $1 million in 2011-12 and $1.1 million in 2012-13. O'Reilly's contract will see him earn $1.05 million in 2011-12 and Mueller's two-way contract will see him paid $550,000 at the NHL level and $65,000 at the AHL level.
The one name missing here is the one name Predators fans should be most concerned about: Winger Sergei Kostitsyn(notes), 23, who led the team with 23 goals and 50 points last season, his best offensive year as a pro. He's filed for arbitration, should his restricted free-agent status be upheld.
Josh Cooper of The Tennessean isn't optimistic about that, given today's news:
By signing these players, you have to wonder about Nashville's confidence in regards to this hearing. Signing them before the hearing gave the players' agents more leverage, though their raises weren't that astronomical. Maybe Nashville wasn't confident about its case. And if so, then what does that mean for Sergei Kostitsyn. If the arbitrator sides with the NHLPA, Kostitsyn will become an unrestricted free agent. We all knew Kostitsyn was going to cash in on his 2010-11 season, where he led Nashville in goals, and he appears poised to do so.
Considering the UFA market is down to guys like Alex Kovalev(notes) and J.P. Dumont(notes), who was on the Preds' fourth line last season, an unrestricted Kostitsyn would garner heavy interest; and he wouldn't be the first player this summer to turn one solid offensive year into a payday. This case is one to watch, for sure.