In less than one week, NHL players and their respective teams will begin salary arbitration hearings. While those cases are often a necessary evil for restricted free agents who cannot agree to a new deal with their current franchises, those processes can often be brutal. Some hockey players have even been left in tears after their teams made a case against them getting a big raise.
One of this year’s most interesting potential cases could occur between Teddy Purcell and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Purcell is far from a household name, but while Sean Bergenheim received a lot of attention for an unexpectedly productive 2011 playoff run, Purcell was better. He scored more points in the postseason (17 to Bergenheim’s 11) and seems like less of a one-hit wonder when you compare his 51-point regular season to Bergenheim’s 29 points in 2010-11. One other heartening thing about Purcell is that he didn’t seem to get too much crazy “puck luck” either; his regular season shooting percentage was a pedestrian 8.7 percent. (Not that he’s a big-time goal scorer anyway, but the point is that he might have a better chance to sustain his productivity than a guy whose shots managed to find the net at an unusual rate.)
That being said, the bottom line is that Purcell’s resume is still very limited. Purcell scored just 34 points in 110 games during the his three other seasons spread between the Lightning and Los Angeles Kings.
Purcell represents the medium-sized issue of two important remaining questions for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, who must also tend to the prickly process of re-signing young restricted star Steven Stamkos. With the July 20 salary arbitration hearing looming, Yzerman admitted that he’s not certain that he could re-sign Purcell before that deadline. Yzerman still seemed confident that the two sides can work something out eventually, though. Here’s what he told Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times.
“I don’t think it’s out of the question,” Yzerman said of getting something done before the July 20 arbitration hearing in Toronto.
Yzerman still would not say “with 100 percent certainty” he would live with whatever might come out of a hearing because “we don’t know what an arbitrator will rule. We think we do.” But he did sound a positive tone overall.
“I fully expect to see Teddy in the lineup in September and have a contract done,” Yzerman said. “Whether it’s through the arbitration process or before that, we’ll have a contract in place next week.”
It’ll be intriguing to see what kind of deal Purcell would get if he makes it to arbitration. It doesn’t seem crazy to anticipate a reward in the $2.5-$3.5 million range, but we’ll have to wait and see.