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.

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    Tyler Johnson’s injury: One of several ominous signs for Tampa Bay

    Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
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    The gloom only seems to lift from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cloudy season in small drizzles.

    Sure, they’re on a three-game winning streak, but the Washington Capitals seem to be on the verge of ending that with a thud (they’re currently up 3-0 going into the third period).

    That’s the least of the Bolts’ concerns right now, really, as Tyler Johnson left Friday’s game seemingly injured.

    The word seemingly comes into play because details are scarce, as reporters note.

    /ominous music plays

    If you look at Tampa Bay’s upcoming schedule, things could get downright stormy.

    They face the Islanders at home, but they do so tomorrow so they won’t be well-rested. It gets worse from there.

    Dec. 2 – 6: Three-game road trip against the California teams

    Dec. 10 – 12: Two home games (one vs. Ottawa, one vs. Washington)

    Dec. 14-18: Another three-game road trip

    Long story short, they close up a back-to-back set at home tomorrow and then play six of eight on the road.

    /even more ominous music

    The end of 2015 looks friendlier, but for a team that seems to be cratering here and there … things look a bit morbid.

    We’ll see if they can keep fighting, perhaps with a comeback tonight?

    The ghost is here: Another OT-winner from Flyers’ Gostisbehere

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    Here’s an easy way to remember how to spell Shayne Gostisbehere’s maddening last name (and even his first name can trip you up).

    Ghost-is-be-here, without the h.

    Not too bad, right?

    If you’re more of the slogan type, it’s getting to be the point where “Tough to spell, tougher to stop” may be a pretty good one-liner.

    The Philadelphia Flyers phenom has made a habit of scoring overtime game-winning goals on the power play lately. Friday’s version was the decisive tally in a 3-2 OT win against the Nashville Predators, which you can watch up top.

    As you can see in comparing that goal with the one below (which made the difference against the Carolina Hurricanes), opposing coaches may want to make it a point to emphasize stopping this setup, even if it means writing “Don’t let that Ghost kid free.”

    All three of his goals are on the power play so far.

    Will he breathe life back into the Flyers’ man advantage at this rate?

    Julien says Lundqvist’s acting ‘doesn’t need to be on the ice’


    The goalie interference penalty called on Brad Marchand late in Friday’s Thanksgiving Showdown didn’t sit well with the Bruins.

    Marchand, whistled after making contact with New York’s Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third, said he thought “it was a bit of a weak call,” adding “[Lundvqist’s] out of the crease, and he lightly gets touched.”

    While Marchand took issue with the call, his head coach took issue with King Henrik.

    (In Julien’s defense, Lundqvist does have a pretty lengthy IMDB page.)

    The interference penalty was nearly disastrous for the Bruins, as J.T. Miller scored on the ensuing power play to given the Blueshirts a 3-2 edge.

    However, Boston replied with a power-play goal of its own — Ryan Spooner, at the 16:14 mark — which set the stage for David Krejci‘s dramatic game-winner with just under two minutes to go.

    So, to recap: Today’s game had the Beleskey hit on Stepan, the Marchand-Lundqvist theatrics and a dramatic come-from-behind victory for Boston.

    And so, to answer your next question:

    These two teams next meet on Monday, Jan. 11, at MSG.

    Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

    Video: Peluso, Gabriel throw down in spirited heavyweight tilt


    The big boys got after it early in Minnesota today.

    Wild forward Kurtis Gabriel — all 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds of him — picked one of the toughest opponents in hockey on Friday, throwing down with Jets enforcer Anthony Peluso early in the first period.

    And it was a pretty good tilt.

    Peluso, one of the league’s most feared fighters, was coming off two pretty heavy scraps — one against Columbus tough guy Jared Boll, and another in which he landed some serious shots on overmatched Canucks d-man Luca Sbisa:

    Of course, Gabriel’s no slouch.

    He had one previous fight in the NHL this year (against Peluso’s teammate, Chris Thorburn) and five in the American League, where he’s spent the majority of this season.

    Given the fisticuffs that occurred earlier in the Bruins-Rangers game, it seem the NHL has really gotten into the spirit of Black Friday.

    (All videos courtesy HockeyFights.com)