Tim Kennedy, Buffalo Sabres went through salary arbitration Tuesday, currently await results

timkennedy.jpgIn one of the increasingly rare cases of a salary arbitration hearing actually taking place, the Buffalo Sabres and forward Tim Kennedy told their sides of the story on Tuesday. The Buffalo News reports that an independent arbitrator will decide what Kennedy should earn either today or on Thursday.

Here’s some conjecture regarding the amount each side argued Kennedy might be worth.

Buffalo was believed to be offering about $700,000 — his $635,000 salary from last season plus a mandatory 10 percent raise for restricted free agents — on a one-year deal, or a higher base salary for a longer agreement. Kennedy was believed to be looking for more than $1 million per season, perhaps upwards of $1.4 million.

As we’ve discussed the last few days, arbitrators lean heavily on comparable statistics, which makes Kennedy a bit of a tough nut to crack. The Buffalo News describes why his situation was atypical.

Kennedy was in an unusual position because he had arbitration rights after playing one season in the NHL. He signed his first contract at age 22, which guaranteed a maximum two-year deal and arbitration when it expired. Younger players are given three-year contracts and cannot file for arbitration until after their fourth season.

It made for an interesting case Tuesday.

Arbitration rulings historically have come down to several variables, including statistics and experience, compared to other players. Kennedy is an effective two-way player who mostly had a checking role with the Sabres. He played against the opposing teams’ top lines, but his offensive productivity suffered in the process.

I imagine it must be difficult for a checking forward or shutdown defenseman to get a fair shake in this process since it seems to hinge so heavily on points. It’s much more difficult to prove a player’s defensive value – especially if their plus/minus takes a hit playing on a bad team – especially since I’d guess that arbitrators probably aren’t aware of advanced statistics.

We’ll keep you up to date as Kennedy and Blake Wheeler’s cases remain in limbo. Stay tuned.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.