Free agency is well under way but the opportunity to negotiate a new deal has led a number of restricted free agents to salary arbitration.
The NHLPA announced the dates for the 24 arbitration hearings that are slated to take place between July 20 and Aug. 4, though some players have already reached agreements with their respective clubs ahead, helping both sides avoid arbitration.
The most productive player to avoid arbitration thus far is Kyle Palmieri, who posted 30 goals and 57 points in 82 games with the New Jersey Devils in 2015-16. Palmieri had filed to take the Devils to arbitration to hammer out a new deal on July 5, but New Jersey and Palmieri landed on a five-year, $23.25-million deal just two days later. Others who have filed but since settled include Detroit Red Wings minor-league goaltender Jared Coreau and Philadelphia Flyers winger Jordan Weal, both of whom signed deals worth over $600,000.
There are some big names still without contracts for the upcoming campaign, however. Here are five key arbitration hearings that could impact some important players:
Tyson Barrie, 24, Colorado Avalanche
Only three players who filed for arbitration had more offensive impact than Barrie, who notched 13 goals and 49 points for the Avalanche. Barrie is arguably the best defenseman Colorado has and projects to be a top-pairing blueliner in the next couple of seasons, if he’s not there already.
What makes the situation interesting, though, is that rumors have been abound that the Avalanche are considering trading Barrie. That’s bizarre given few young defensemen possess the offensive ability Barrie does and he’s a legitimate power play quarterback. There are no doubt teams that have significant interest in Barrie.
Coming off of a two-year deal that saw him earn $2.6 million per season — and $3.2 million in actual salary this past season — Barrie is likely due a raise above the $3.5 million mark. Even that seems like it could be a low estimate given he’s notched 25 goals and 102 points in the past two seasons.
Technically the pair of Rangers makes this a list of six arbitrations, but the similarities between the seasons Kreider and Miller had make this an incredibly interesting pair of arbitrations.
Kreider, the older of the two, scored 21 goals and 43 points in 79 games this past season. Miller scored 22 goals and 43 points in 82 games. Both were first-round picks, both have roughly the same amount of NHL experience and both are wingers. These two deals could mirror each other in a lot of ways, and that would be good for Miller.
The difference between the two deals should be consistency, though. Kreider has scored 69 goals and 126 points in the past three seasons. Miller has notched 35 goals and 72 points over that same span. Kreider is a legitimate top-six player while Miller is showing promise, but may not be there quite yet.
Mike Hoffman, 26, Ottawa Senators
Hoffman was outstanding in his rookie season, posting 27 goals and 48 points in 79 games. He followed that up with a 29-goal, 59-point performance as a sophomore. With that kind of pure goal scoring talent, it’s no wonder Hoffman is seeking to cash in, but it’s troublesome a new contract may once again have to come through arbitration.
In August 2015, Hoffman took the Senators to arbitration and was handed a one-year, $2-million deal. There’s little doubt that this season will see him land a bigger deal. But what happens if the Senators can only manage another one-year deal with Hoffman?
At 26, Hoffman will be able to hit the open market next off-season if he’s only signed to a one-year deal by the Senators. And with how difficult negotiations have been between the two sides, it wouldn’t be too shocking were he to move on as an unrestricted free agent. So arbitration may set the price for the Senators, but they’re going to need to offer term, too, if they want to hang on to their goal-scoring winger.
Brayden Schenn, 24, Philadelphia Flyers
Of all players going to arbitration, only Hoffman scored more goals than Schenn, but no player on this list — and hardly any in the entire league — were more productive in the second half of the campaign than Schenn.
From Jan. 1 to the end of the regular season, Schenn notched 19 goals and 44 points for the Flyers and the company he kept by producing at that rate was impressive. Anze Kopitar, Kris Letang, Patrick Kane, Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby were the only players with more points, and Schenn looked like he was finally coming into his own as a legitimate top-line center.
Coming off of a two-year, $5-million deal, Schenn should get a hefty raise. Philadelphia has about $6.43 million to work with, per CapFriendly, so keeping Schenn shouldn’t be an issue.
Petr Mrazek, 24, Detroit Red Wings
Mrazek is the only player being taken to club-elected salary arbitration and whatever contract Mrazek receives could have major implications for the Red Wings going forward.
Detroit GM Ken Holland has already made it clear that heading into training camp Mrazek will be considered the Red Wings’ No. 1 goaltender, which leaves Detroit in a tough spot. Not only does Mrazek not have a contract, but it also means Holland is expecting to pay No. 2 netminder Jimmy Howard $5.292 million. That’s a hefty price tag for a backup, even more so when you consider Detroit has a mere $4.71 million in estimated cap space, according to CapFriendly.
The big concern is how much Mrazek is worth, because he could take a considerable bite out of what cap space the Red Wings do have. Of the 58 goaltenders to play at least 20 games, the 24-year-old ranked 13th with a .921 save percentage, 16th with a 2.33 goals-against average and tied for eighth with four shutouts. At 5-on-5, only seven of the 23 goaltenders who played 2000-plus minutes had a better SP than Mrazek.
He’s a No. 1 goaltender, to be sure, and if he’s paid as such, it could mean the Red Wings have to shed some salary to sit comfortably under the cap.
Below is a list of the complete arbitration schedule, per the NHLPA. All hearings will be held in Toronto:
Arizona Coyotes: Michael Stone - August 4, 2016
Colorado Avalanche: Tyson Barrie - July 29, 2016; Mikhail Grigorenko - July 22, 2016
Detroit Red Wings: Jared Coreau - Settled (Two years, $1.225 million); Danny DeKeyser - July 28, 2016
Minnesota Wild: Jordan Schroeder - July 27, 2016
Nashville Predators: Calle Jarnkrok - Aug. 4, 2016; Petter Granberg - Aug. 3, 2016
New York Rangers: Kevin Hayes - July 27, 2016; Chris Kreider - July 22, 2016; Dylan McIlrath - July 21, 2016; J.T. Miller - Aug. 2, 2016
New Jersey Devils: Kyle Palmieri - Settled (Five years, $23.25 million)
Ottawa Senators: Mike Hoffman - Aug. 4, 2016
Philadelphia Flyers: Brandon Manning - Aug. 2, 2016; Brayden Schenn - July 25, 2016; Jordan Weal - Settled (One year, $650,000)
St. Louis Blues: Jaden Schwartz - July 20, 2016
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn - July 20, 2016; Vladislav Namestnikov - July 29, 2016
Toronto Maple Leafs: Frank Corrado - July 26, 2016; Peter Holland - July 25, 2016; Martin Marincin - Aug. 2, 2016
Washington Capitals: Marcus Johansson - July 20, 2016
CLUB ELECTED FILINGS
Detroit Red Wings: Petr Mrazek - July 27, 2016
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.