The NHL’s arbitration process is scheduled to begin later this month. Twenty NHL players have filed for arbitration, while three players were taken to arbitration by their teams. Usually, these contracts are settled before the team and player have to face off in front of an arbiter, so expect most, or all, of these to be settled before the process begins.
Arbitration cases will be heard between July 20 and August 5. Here are the eligible players:
Brandon McMillan – A third round pick by Anaheim in 2008, McMillan played 22 games with the Coyotes in 2013-14, scoring two goals and six points. He also played 46 games with the american League’s Portland Pirates, scoring 11 goals and 26 points. The 5-foot-11 winger was acquired by the Coyotes last year in a trade that sent Matt Lombardi to the Ducks.
Matt Bartkowski – A seventh round pick by Florida in 2008, Bartkowski averaged the fourth-most minutes among Bruins defensemen in 2013-14 and scored 18 assists. He was acquired by Boston in what turned out to be an awful trade for Florida, which sent Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg to the Bruins for not much at all. Bartkowski has emerged as a physical defensive blueliner who fits in nicely with Boston’s brawny way.
Joe Colborne – A first round draft pick (16th overall) in 2008 by Boston, Colborne was first part of the Tomas Kaberle trade that sent him to Toronto and then was shipped to Calgary for a conditional fourth-rounder. So it’s fair to say Colborne has a falling stock. He spent his first full year in the NHL this past season, scoring 10 goals and 28 points in 80 games for the decrepit Calgary Flames. But his possession numbers left much to be desired. He made $600,000 in 2013-14.
Cameron Gaunce – Drafted in the second round by Colorado in 2008, Gaunce was traded to Dallas last year for Tomas Vincour. He spent most of 2013-14 with the AHL’s Texas Stars, scoring 18 points in 65 games from the blueline. He played nine games with the big club in Dallas, but wasn’t abel to get a point. His previous contract would have come with a $650,000 cap hit in the NHL.
Antoine Roussel – He may be a guy who piles up penalty minutes, but Roussel is an enforcer/agitator who can play, too. He scored 14 goals and 29 points in 81 games this past season (plus his 209 PIMs) and he had positive possession stats. Undrafted, the 24-year-old just finished his first contract, in which he made $612,500 against the cap.
Jimmy Hayes – A second-rounder by Toronto in 2008, Hayes has been moved twice already in his young career and is currently with the Florida Panthers. He scored 11 goals and 18 points with them in 2013-14 and is coming off a deal that paid him $654,167 against the cap.
Los Angeles Kings
Dwight King – He is the last remaining player off the Kings’ NHL roster without a contract. King’s expired contract, which he signed after winning his first Stanley Cup, counted for $750,000 against the cap. Currently, Los Angeles still has about $2.2 million in cap room, but should be able to fit in the energetic, 15-goal scorer.
Justin Fontaine – An undrafted 26-year-old, Fontaine scored 13 goals and 21 points in 66 games with Minnesota this past season. He averaged 12:1 of ice time and will look for a raise off his expired contract that paid him $600,000 against the cap. His 13 goal ranked 12th amongst NHL rookies last season.
Lars Eller – The big piece coming back to Montreal in the Jaroslav Halak trade from 2010, Eller regressed in 2013-14, scoring only 12 goals and 26 points in 77 games. In the playoffs, however, it was a different story. Eller was one of Montreal’s top offensive weapons in the post-season, scoring five goals and 13 points in 17 games. He’ll get a raise from his old deal that paid him $1.325 million against the cap, but these numbers make it tricky. How much of a raise should a guy get after a miserable regular season was followed up by a tremendous post-season.
P.K. Subban – Here’s the biggest one for the Habs to deal with. Subban opted for salary arbitration the past weekend, so no one can present him with an offer sheet anymore. But this is interesting because Subban just finished what was supposed to be a bridge deal before his big-score contract. It still may work out that way for him if he can strike a deal with the Habs before arbitration, but if not, this will be another one or two-year deal that could be Subban’s last as an RFA. If arbitration leads to a two-year extension, guess what? Subban will potentially be available to the highest bidder in 2016. It was good news for the Habs when Subban filed for arbitration, but it’d be even better news for them if they could get him signed before this process goes that far.
Mattias Ekholm – The 6-foot-4, 205-pound blueliner was drafted in the fourth round by Nashville in 2009 and just finished his rookie NHL season. He scored one goal and nine points in 62 games and had decent possession numbers with favorable zone starts. He’s coming off a deal that paid him $900,000 against the salary cap.
New York Islanders
Kevin Poulin – Like a lot of guys on this list, Poulin is just looking for a pay raise in the American League. He became the odd-man out when the Islanders’ improved their goaltending by signing starter Jaroslav Halak and backup Chad Johnson this summer. Poulin posted an .891 save percentage in 28 NHL appearances last season, but posted a .910 SP in 15 AHL games.
New York Rangers
Derick Brassard – He’s coming off one of his best offensive season yet, scoring 18 goals and 45 points in 81 games, which probably has something to do with the fact he had a high percentage of offensive zone starts. Brassard added 12 points in 23 post-season games. He averaged 15:47 of ice time, which ranked fifth among Rangers forwards who are still on the team, so he’s an important player. He made $3.2 million agains the cap during his last contract and the Rangers have $14 million in cap space with four RFAs to go.
Chris Kreider – For the second time in three years, Kreider provided a goal scoring presence to the Rangers in the playoffs – the difference is in 2013-14, he also had a strong and full regular season to go along with it. Kreider scored 17 goals and 37 points in 66 games, ranking seventh on the team in scoring. The 23-year-old is already a big part of the Rangers – and they expect him to only get better.
Mats Zuccarello – New York’s top scorer from this past season, the Norwegian didn’t quite reach 20 goals, but he did get 40 assists and 59 points in 77 games. He’s coming off a one-year deal that paid him $1.15 million against the cap and will get a healthy raise. Between these three players, New York’s cap space will start drying up fast.
Derek Grant – A fourth-rounder of Ottawa’s in 2008, Grant played 20 ages with the Senators this past season, scoring two points. The 6-foot-3 center spent most of his year in the AHL, posting 22 points in 46 games. He’s coming off a deal that would have paid him $605,000 against the cap while he was in the NHL.
Nick Spaling – Newly acquired from Nashville as part of the James Neal trade, Spaling is up for contract right away with Pittsburgh. He scored 13 goals and 32 points in 71 games, but was also one of their most proficient penalty-killers, averaging the fourth-most PK minutes among Nashville forwards. The 2007 second-rounder is looking for a raise off his last contract that paid him $1.5 million against the cap.
San Jose Sharks
Jason Demers – Among returning Sharks blueliners, Demers ranked third in ice time last season. However, with Brent Burns returning to defense next season, Demers will likely continue as a No. 4 guy. The 2008 seventh-rounder set a career high in goals (five), assists (29) and points (34) in 2013-14 and at 26, he’s one of the “new era” Sharks the team is now looking toward. He made $1.5 million on his last contract.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Cody Franson – The big defenseman has been on back-to-back one-year contracts, with the last one being worth $2 million against the cap. At 26, Franson will be eligible for UFA status next summer, so the Leafs likely will either sign him to a contract with term, or trade him at some point this off-season. The sense is Toronto will trade a defenseman this summer, but who: captain Dion Phaneuf who struggled through 2013-14, while logging a pile of minutes, or Franson, who has an expiring contract, but led all Toronto blueliners with 33 points in 79 games?
James Reimer – The current backup who has requested a trade just a little more than a year after leading the Leafs to the playoffs, Reimer has all but been run out of town. How soon they forget. Reimer may not be the ideal starter, but he’s a perfectly capable backup, or even a tandem guy. He won’t get that 1a-1b job in Toronto – they don’t seem too crazy to give him a raise on the $1.8 million he earned against the cap last season.
Vladimir Sobotka – His tremendous possession stats despite unfavorable zone starts and 61.9 percent face-off winning percentage are great, but they aren’t flashy stats that get you a huge raise. Sobotka contributed nine goals and 33 points in 61 games to the Blues this past season, which is a career high, but only 10th on the team. He turned 27 on July 2 and will be a UFA the next time his contract expires – but how much of a raise should he get on the $1.3 million signing bonus he earned on his last deal?
Ryan O’Reilly – If he elects a two-year contract in arbitration, O’Reilly will be eligible for UFA status at the end of it. His rocky relationship with the Avs will be in the headlines again this summer as this arbitration process plays out. The good news is that no one can sign O’Reilly to an offer sheet this time, as the Calgary Flames did two years ago. The bad news is if this goes to arbitration, the confrontation may exacerbate an unstable marriage.
Michael Frolik – He didn’t play as many shorthanded minutes with the Jets this past season as he did with the Blackhawks the year prior (you’re doing it wrong, Winnipeg), but he was put in a more offensive role. As a result, Frolik had a career high in assists (27) and added 15 goals. It was one of the better scoring seasons he’s had in a while, which bodes well for a raise from the $2.33 million he made against the cap on his last contract.