Tag: avoiding arbitration

Atlanta Thrashers v New York Islanders

Blake Comeau and Islanders avoid arbitration, agree to one-year deal

A day after a public vote that denied public subsidies and put the team’s future in doubt, the New York Islanders returned to business as usual today. GM Garth Snow and restricted free agent Blake Comeau were able to avoid arbitration and agreed on a one-year, $2.5 million contract for the 2011-12 season. Comeau’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for this Thursday, but both sides were able to reach a fair figure before waiting for the final moment.

Comeau picked a great time to have a career year as he posted career high in goals (24), assists (22), points (46), games played (77), and even penalty minutes (43). Across the board, it was easily the most successful season of his young career. On Tuesday, he saw the fruits of his labor.

Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey thinks this is a deal that works for both sides:

“This is probably ideal for both sides (unless Comeau was hoping for a “core” length deal). Comeau is coming off a career year; he has another season to prove it’s repeatable before either side wades into something more lasting. Meanwhile, if he’s pushed for ice time from the young prospect forwards, then both sides will have a better idea of where he fits next year at this time, when he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency again.”

Next, the Islanders will have to decide what they want to do with former 9th overall pick Josh Bailey. After signing his three year entry-level deal and being rushed to the NHL, the organization will have to decide what they want to do with the 21-year-old forward. In 211 NHL games, he’s only mustered 34 goals and 54 assists. Clearly, they’ll want to sign him for less money than the $1,725,000 cap hit he earned over the last three seasons.

Regardless what the team decides to do with Bailey, it was Comeau that was the most important restricted free agent left on Garth Snow’s to-do list this offseason. By re-signing both Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner in May and Comeau today, he’s insured that most of the Islanders young core of forwards will be back for next season. Since this is only a one-year deal, GM Snow will revisit Comeau while also trying to lock-down franchise forward John Tavares.

Either way, it’s a little bit of good news for an organization that desperately needed some good news today.

No arbitration tomorrow: Jannik Hansen signs three-year, $4.05M deal with Canucks

Jannik Hansen, Devin Setoguchi

Well, so much for Jannik Hansen becoming the first NHL player to enter salary arbitration during this off-season. Nick Kypreos reports that the Vancouver Canucks reached a three-year agreement with the versatile forward. Update: Chris Johnston reports that the deal is worth $4.05 million overall, with Hansen being paid $1.6 million in 2011-12, $1.35 million in 12-13 and $1.1 million in 13-14. That works out to a $1.35 million cap hit, which is a nice bargain for such a useful player.

With their last pending free agent out of the way, this has been a solid summer for the Canucks. They managed to keep most of the core from their Stanley Cup runner-up together, aside from Christian Ehrhoff signing a pricey long-term deal with the Buffalo Sabres. Canucks fans probably hope to see what is left of their cap space devoted to a top six forward, but it’s possible that the team’s roster might be set. (At least for a little while.)

Hansen is a high-effort forward who was especially useful in defensive situations in 2010-11 (on average, 2:24 of his 14:42 minutes per game came on the penalty kill during the regular season). That being said, he provides at least a bit of pop on the offensive end, having scored a career-high 29 points last season. Hansen had a +13 rating in the regular season and a +7 mark in the playoffs, in which he scored a solid nine points in 25 postseason contests.

He might not be an elite player, but Hansen is one of those guys who plays some of those tougher minutes that opens up better opportunities for the Sedin twins and other scorers to succeed. If the money is reasonable like reports indicate, then this is another happy compromise to avoid arbitration.

Rangers avoid arbitration, sign Ryan Callahan to three-year deal worth $12.825 million

Ryan Callahan

When the final papers for possible salary arbitration hearings were filed, it looked like the New York Rangers would be the NHL team with the biggest headaches. As it turns out, the team managed to lock up every player whose on-ice qualities would have been put on trial, as they reportedly came to terms with Ryan Callahan on a three-year contract extension today.

Much like fellow Rangers forward (and frequent linemate) Brandon Dubinsky, Callahan agreed to a deal a day before his hearing was scheduled. The terms of that three-year deal haven’t been made official yet, but Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports that Callahan’s agent confirmed that it’s worth “just under” $13 million. Update: Kevin Allen reports that Callahan’s salary will be $4 million in 2011-12 and 12-13 and $4.85 million in 13-14. That would his overall contract $12.85 million and his cap hit a bit more than $4.28 million per year.

With their last restricted free agent out of the way, Rangers fans should rejoice. Callahan seems like a strong contender to become the Rangers’ next captain because of his mixture of grit and scoring ability.

Callahan notched career highs in goals (23), assists (25) and points (48) even though he only played in 60 games in 2010-11. It’s usually tough to gauge how well a player can live up to a contract year – especially one in which that player shows a higher offensive ceiling that he ever had before – but the good news is that Callahan is a productive player even when he’s not lighting up the scoreboard.

His career-high 2010-11 shooting percentage (12.8) probably won’t be sustainable during the next three years, but the biggest worry might be that his aggressive style might lead to more injuries. Perhaps he needs to allow less important Rangers forwards to block some shots, at least; he broke his hand and ankle last season doing just that. The ankle injury forced him to miss the end of the Rangers’ push toward a playoff spot as well as their first round series against the Washington Capitals.

That being said, Callahan’s willingness to put his body on the line could make him the hockey equivalent to a military commander who fights in the front lines. We’ll see if he gets the actual captain’s “C” on his jersey now or later, but my guess is that many players and fans already consider him the leader of that team.

Report: Rangers appear hesitant to give Brandon Dubinsky $5M per year

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Four

When you consider the absolutely bonkers money that the New York Rangers hand out to unrestricted free agents, it seems a bit odd that they end up using unthinkable measures such as “care” and “discretion” with their restricted guys. Wouldn’t you expect them to spend more on guys they know rather than blind gambles … or are they instead seduced by hypothetical gains?

Either way, the Rangers still have two crucial restricted free agents headed for possible salary arbitration hearings: Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. If GM Glen Sather cannot come to terms with Dubinsky soon, he might be the first NHL player “on trial” this summer; the two-way forward’s hearing is set for Thursday, July 21.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post breaks down the impasse in the simplest of terms: it’s all about money. Simply put, the Rangers aren’t totally comfortable with giving Dubinsky the a five or six-year contract worth $5 million per year. Brooks reports that they’re offering a $4.5 million average annual salary.

The 25-year-old winger is two years away from the unrestricted age of 27, although Brooks points out that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could change that scenario. Brooks makes an interesting comparison to two other restricted free agents who recently signed deals.

For the sake of comparison, Winnipeg winger Andrew Ladd just signed a five-year deal worth $4.4 million per year. The Rangers would not trade Dubinsky for Ladd. On the other hand, Anaheim winger Bobby Ryan is entering the second year of a five-year deal worth $5.1 million per. The Ducks would not consider dealing Ryan for Dubinsky.

Brooks notes that fellow heart-and-soul winger Callahan might make the discussions a bit more complicated, too. While Callahan isn’t quite as prolific as Dubinsky, he’s considered nearly as valuable because both players impact games in ways that go beyond traditional box score numbers.

Brooks provides an estimate of what Dubinsky might receive in arbitration and some of the other effects.

The Rangers, whose case will be presented by newly installed assistant general manager Jeff Gorton, should be careful not to make their presentation an attack on Dubinsky. Indeed, the best plan would be to submit their numbers and comparables while otherwise remaining silent. The 25-year-old winger is, after all, an integral part of the team and the program.

It is believed Dubinsky will earn between $3.8 million to $4.4 million through arbitration in a system where the arbitrator generally comes as close as possible to splitting the difference between the team’s and player’s submissions. The absence of either/or baseball-style arbitration allows the respective parties to be unrealistic in their submissions. Neither side should take it personally.

The Rangers have the option of electing a two-year award, but there is a sense the club may go for a one-year award, though it is unclear what advantages this strategy would yield.

Obviously, that $3.8-$4.4 million range would provide short-term savings for the Rangers, but they might risk losing Dubinsky for nothing if he becomes an unrestricted free agent once the shorter deal expires.

Perhaps this is an example of oversimplification, but would the two sides be satisfied if they took the “King Solomon” approach and split the difference? Maybe a six-year, $28.5 million deal with a $4.75 million per year cap hit would do the trick.

For all the hubbub about adding Brad Richards (and how he might resurrect Marian Gaborik’s career), Dubinsky and Callahan were the team’s most valuable forwards in 2010-11. If the Rangers hope to be a contender, they need to keep both of those spirited wingers in the fold.

If all else fails, maybe someone can hypnotize Sather into thinking that they’re both unrestricted free agents with a ton of hype. My guess is that they’d have new contracts by the end of the business day if that happened …

Shea Weber, Predators currently locked in a ‘stalemate’ regarding a new contract

Shea Weber

Ever since people really started asking questions, a deal between the Nashville Predators and their all-world defenseman Shea Weber seemed like an expensive formality. Both sides have been saying all the right things while other teams cross their fingers that a few cracks would form in that foundation.

For the first time, there’s a sign of issues in the discussions, although one must wonder if it’s a legitimate sign of worry or just another negotiating ploy. The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper reports that Weber’s agent Jarrett Bousquet said that the talks have hit a “bit of a stalemate” lately, which is a little worrisome when you consider the fact the Predators-elected arbitration hearing is set for August 2.

Here’s what Bousquet told Cooper.

“We’ve had long talks; we seem to be coming to a bit of a stalemate. We still have time to work before the system kicks in,” Weber’s agent, Jarrett Bousquet said. “Shea would like to be a Predator. He enjoys playing there with a team that’s on the cusp of doing something great.”

The two sides can agree to a deal sometime before the hearing and are also allowed to come to terms on an agreement before the arbitrator’s decision comes out (according to a thorough rundown by Dirk Hoag). Unlike in most cases, the Predators cannot walk away from the decision because they nominated Weber for arbitration, though.

Weber has the power, even though he’s a restricted free agent

Weber can decide if he wants a one or two-year deal. That could be important because Weber won’t be an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2013. With that in mind, he might elect to go with a two-year deal to generate some stability and set himself up for a gargantuan contract in 2013.

Anyone who doubts Weber’s value (and the Predators’ desperation to keep him) would be kidding themselves, but there’s all kinds of thorny issues to deal with. From convincing Weber that this team can truly compete for a Stanley Cup to resolving how many of his unrestricted free agent years he’d be willing to give up, it’s even more complex than finding a satisfying salary mark.

Weber isn’t the only big-name player the Predators need to re-sign soon

Unfortunately, Weber is just one of three developing problems for the Predators to solve in the near future, as Elliotte Friedman points out in his 30 Thoughts column. Weber’s partner in crime Ryan Suter and Vezina Trophy runner-up Pekka Rinne are both primed for unrestricted free agency once the 2011-12 season ends. Friedman estimates that the trio could cost between $18.5 to about $21 million to retain; that’s a massive amount for any franchise, let alone a budget-conscious organization such as the Predators.

(We’ll get into a little more discussion of which of the Predators’ trio is the most expendable a little later on, though.)

Predators GM David Poile must keep the structure of his entire franchise in mind even if he’s taking a “one deal at a time” approach with the three standout players. That’s probably why this is such a difficult process in the first place. It’s not just about retaining Weber, a crucial player to the Predators’ attempts to solidify themselves as an elite team. It’s also about surrounding Weber with the kind of players who will give him (and Predators fans) a reason to believe that a second round appearance is far from the ceiling for this group.

Weber’s deal will have a far-reaching impact on the Predators franchise (not to mention other deals, including that of fellow restricted free agent star Drew Doughty). We’ll keep you up to date as that intimidating salary arbitration deadline rapidly approaches.