An important deadline is looming for the Winnipeg Jets and captain Andrew Ladd.
The 25-year-old forward remains without a contract for next season and is expected to file for salary arbitration unless a deal can be completed quickly. Players have until 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday evening to file for arbitration.
Ladd earned US$2.35 million with the Atlanta Thrashers last season and had a career-best 29 goals and 59 points.
“We’ve been talking almost every day since the draft about trying to come to a long-term agreement, but we haven’t been able to do that yet,” Ladd’s agent J.P. Barry said Monday. “We expect to keep trying, but if not, we’ll likely file tomorrow and keep negotiating.”
Ladd is a restricted free agent and holds arbitration rights because of his NHL experience. A number of players find themselves in a similar position, including Toronto’s Clarke MacArthur, Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell, and Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky of the New York Rangers.
They each have the right to ask for an arbitration hearing—typically held in late July or early August—if they can’t come to terms on a new deal.
Once an arbitrator makes a ruling on a case, the team is given the choice to accept the one-year contract or walk away and let the player become an unrestricted free agent. The Thrashers declined a $2.4-million ruling awarded to MacArthur last summer and he ended up taking $1.4 million to sign in Toronto.
The 26-year-old had a career year with 21 goals and 62 points, but his agent Don Meehan hasn’t been able to agree on a new contract with Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke.
“We are still talking,” Burke said Monday. “(It’s) too early to say (if arbitration can be avoided).”
The marketplace has been complicated by a spending spree on July 1.
With a number of teams paying big money to land unrestricted free agents, the price for players is on the rise. For example, Buffalo gave Ville Leino $27 million over six years—an average of $4.5 million per season—after scoring 19 goals and 53 points.
Ladd and MacArthur both eclipsed those totals last season.
Ladd paid his own way to visit Winnipeg last month and came away feeling good about the prospect of being part of the Jets. He’s played in Carolina, Chicago and Atlanta since starting his NHL career in 2005 and is hoping to receive a long-term deal.
“I’ve been kind of knocked around,” Ladd said in June. “This will be my fourth spot—three teams but four spots in six or seven years. It would be nice to be in the same place for a while and lock up for the summer and know you’re coming back.”