The Nashville Predators might be in a bit of a bind come Friday afternoon when free agency starts. The NHLPA has filed a grievance against the Predators for when they filed their qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents. Among those seven, four of them were NHL starters last season including Sergei Kostitsyn, Nick Spaling, Cal O’Reilly, and Matt Halischuk.
The NHLPA contends that the Predators didn’t file their paperwork with the NHL by the 5 p.m. ET deadline on Monday. If the Predators are found to be guilty of that, the seven players they sent qualifying offers to will become unrestricted free agents on Friday. If this sounds familiar it’s because we’ve seen this happen in recent years as well.
Back in 2009 the Blackhawks caught the ire of the NHLPA for how they handled dealing with some of their restricted free agency paperwork surrounding Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Troy Brouwer, Corey Crawford, Aaron Johnson, and Kris Versteeg. Then Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon had to fiddle with his offers to those players to settle the issue. Tallon took heat for not getting faxes sent in on time and we all had a good laugh at their expense. What may have happened with Nashville’s situation will be worthy of smacking the palm of your hand against your head.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News learns that what the Predators and GM David Poile may have done wrong shows that they may not have totally learned about how the mail works.
According to several sources, the Predators prepared the qualifying offers and sent them off to the players by Federal Express at 4 p.m., on deadline day. The only problem is the players did not receive them until the next day. The Predators did not fax the qualifying offers to either the players’ agents or the NHL Players’ Association.
In any event, the NHLPA insists since none of the players, their agents or the NHLPA actually received the qualifying offers by the deadline they were not tendered on time. The league and the Predators, on the other hand, contend that sending the offers out on deadline day meets the CBA requirements. The league contends it has been deemed acceptable in the past for teams to send out their qualifying offers on the day of the deadline. Arbitrator George Nicolau is expected to hear the case at some point Thursday so he can make a ruling prior to free agent season opening Friday at noon.
We’re guessing that perhaps they thought “next day air” meant “next hour arrival” for shipping.
Either way, we’ll find out what’s going to happen with all of this by the latest on Friday. While the Predators aren’t in real danger with the salary cap, losing anyone to free agency when you’d planned to keep them in the fold is dangerous for the roster and embarrassing for the organization. If things played out how Campbell and his sources said they did you have to wonder just how busy a GM has to be before they fudge things up that much.