One more down, four to go.
Arbitration cases, we mean.
The Nashville Predators announced today that they’d signed restricted free agent Colin Wilson to a four-year, $15.75 million contract. Wilson had been scheduled to go to arbitration tomorrow.
The Wilson signing, combined with today’s Derek Stepan signing, leaves four RFAs still scheduled to make their cases in front of an arbitrator:
— Washington’s Marcus Johansson, hearing scheduled for Wednesday
— Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman, Thursday
— Minnesota’s Erik Haula, Friday
— Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier, Friday
Wilson, 25, had 20 goals and 22 assists last season for the Preds.
Related: Preds sign ‘integral’ Smith to five-year, $21.25M extension
Typically speaking, players and teams that file for arbitration are able to agree to terms on their own before the deadline, but that wasn’t the case with Alex Chiasson.
Sunday morning an arbitrator decided for both sides what Chiasson will make in 2015-16 and the new contract is valued at $1.2 million, per the team’s website. That’s a victory for Ottawa as it was requesting a salary of $1 million compared to Chiasson’s filing at $2.475 million.
The 24-year-old forward was coming off of his entry-level contract. He had 11 goals, 15 assists, and 67 penalty minutes in 76 contests last season. That’s down from his 35-point rookie campaign in 2013-14.
Chiasson was acquired along with Alexander Guptill, Ludwig Karlsson, Nicholas Paul, and a 2015 second rounder (Mackenzie Blackwood) in the Jason Spezza trade with the Dallas Stars last summer.
The departure of Thomas Greiss and a record-breaking AHL season apparently aren’t enough to inspire the Pittsburgh Penguins to tab Matt Murray as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup, as the team website reports.
Management’s explanation is simple enough: Fleury is the No. 1 guy, so why not allow Murray to get more reps as the top dog in the AHL instead of being glued to the bench?
“He’s not coming in here and beating out Marc-Andre Fleury and taking over this team,” Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We love what we have down the line here, and it is down the line. He just turned 21. He needs to play hockey games. You can’t develop if he’s sitting on the bench. That’s just a fact.”
Although he said the Penguins knew he was good, Fitzgerald admitted that they didn’t expect him to generate the kind of 2014-15 campaign he did, winning the AHL’s goalie of the year award while putting up big numbers.
A devil’s advocate take might be that it’s sometimes wise to ride out surprise hot streaks with goalies. The Ottawa Senators rode Andrew Hammond’s out-of-left-field surge to a playoff berth while Devan Dubnyk went from the scrap heap to saving the Minnesota Wild’s season, and neither team anticipated either scenario, right?
Regardless, the good news for the Penguins is that Murray seems fine with both scenarios.
“I think either way could be good for me,” Murray said. “I think playing in the AHL wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but also practicing with the best players in the world wouldn’t be a bad thing either, so the way I look at it, either way I can take the positives out of it. Wherever I end up, I’m still going to have the same determinations and play the same way each and every day and let things take care of itself.”
Matching a record-breaking season might be asking for too much, but if Murray’s for real, he’ll get his big chance sooner or later.