2010 NHL Free Agency: Oilers forward Gilbert Brule could get a big raise in arbitration

gilbertbrulearb.jpgDespite fancy mathematical tools, it’s more or less impossible to truly measure grit or hustle. Going further, modern stats like Corsi ratings are probably not being uttered in salary arbitration cases. Instead, I’d imagine that the proceedings are dominated by simple stats such as points and maybe time on ice.

For that reason, hockey people are expecting Edmonton Oilers center Gilbert Brule to get a substantial raise if his case goes to arbitration as planned on August 3. The Sporting News has more on the case, which also includes references to hockey writer Jim Matheson.

To Matheson’s mind, there was an interesting comparable this week for Brule — Clarke MacArthur, who got a one-year, $2.4 million decision. MacArthur’s joy expired shortly afterward when the Thrashers, balking at giving him a 300 percent raise and having player options, walked away from the deal.

Would Oilers GM Steve Tambellini consider doing the same on Aug. 3 if Brule, who was paid $800,000 last season, gets his previous salary tripled?

While pondering that, consider the comparables. You’re turn, Mr. Matheson:

MacArthur scored 35 points last season, split between the Buffalo Sabres and Atlanta. He has scored 88 points in 208 NHL games.

Brule, who turns 24 on Jan. 1, had 37 points last season with the Oilers. The Edmonton forward has 72 points in 222 NHL games.

Want another one? Consider this, Matheson says:

When the Toronto Maple Leafs gave 23-year-old forward Nikolai Kulemin a two-year deal recently for an average salary of $2.35 million, that set the bar for the Brules and MacArthurs of the world. Kulemin had 36 points this past season.

Those are, indeed, two reasonable parallels. While MacArthur has more points in less NHL games, the two players are still fairly comparable. The Grinder blog leans toward the Edmonton Oilers accepting such an arbitration reward, although that would be a pretty substantial payment for the good-yet-slightly-disappointing Brule.

Then again, if Brule uses some of that cash to continue making headlines for charity work, then maybe we should root for a big reward.

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    Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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    Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

    (Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

    You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

    Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

    Letang told his side of the story:

    The Capitals disagree:

    While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

    No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

    Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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    If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

    The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

    (Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

    Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

    A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

    First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

    Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

    Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

    In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

    This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

    Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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    It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

    (You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

    There are a few things we do know already.

    For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

    Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

    In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

    There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

    Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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    Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

    ***

    As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

    Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

    Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

    Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

    Things could get ugly in Game 3:

    One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

    Also, lateness of the check:

    The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

    Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

    Read reactions to the check here.