Today was supposed to be the kick-off of the dreaded salary arbitration process, but only one of the cases actually made it. The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided arbitration by signing Teddy Purcell to a two-year contract while the Phoenix Coyotes reached a settlement with Lauri Korpikoski that resulted in a two-year deal.
Nick Kypreos reports that Purcell’s two-year deal will register a $4.725 million total while Korpikoski will cost $3.6 million overall. That amounts to a $1.8 million annual cap hit for Korpikoski and a cap hit of more than than $2.36 million* for Purcell. It’s unclear if Korpikosi’s “settlement” was actually an agreement that happened before the hearing or if that’s the ruling itself.
Purcell gets the biggest upgrade, but it’s pretty difficult to argue with that raise. The Lightning winger had a breakthrough 2010-11 season with 51 points, but he really made a name for himself during the playoffs. Purcell scored 17 points in 18 games, earning himself the 12th highest total of the 2011 postseason and ranking him third overall among Lightning players.
As I discussed in this post, the heartening thing about Purcell is that while he put up much better numbers that his previous years, he didn’t have a wildly improved shooting percentage. He scored at an 8.7 percent rate for 17 goals in the regular season and connected on 13 percent of his shots for six goals in the playoffs. The postseason rate my be a little high, but the general takeaway is that he has a great chance to maintain his momentum. That’s especially true because he’ll probably get some chances in the top six with Simon Gagne and Sean Bergenheim gone via free agency.
Korpikoski hasn’t really broken out on a mainstream level like Purcell, but he also had a breakthrough contract year. He earned career-highs across the board with 19 goals, 21 assists and 40 points, a +17 rating and 15:31 of ice time per game. Those numbers made him the fifth-highest scoring Coyotes player.
One could argue that he didn’t get the same amount of cash as Purcell because his playoff success has been lacking, though. He scored one assist and had a lousy -6 rating in four games against Detroit in 2011 and scored one goal with a -4 rating during the Coyotes’ seven game series against the Red Wings in 2010. Korpikoski will probably need to put more than 103 shots on net to score around 19 goals again in 2011-12; his 18.4 percent shooting percentage probably isn’t sustainable during another season.
Both Purcell and Korpikoski carry the worry that they were one-hit wonders during the 2010-11 season, but each look like they might play a solid role with their respective teams. Their cap hits are reasonable and the two-year terms represent nice compromises for each side. Consider these two deals “wins” for everyone, especially the Lightning and Coyotes.
*$2.3625 million, if you want to be exact.