The NHLPA announced on Friday the 40 players that have elected to go to salary arbitration. All of these players will have their cases heard in Toronto between July 20 and August 4, unless a deal can be struck with their respective teams ahead of time.
According to NHL.com, 44 restricted free agents filed for arbitration last offseason. Of them, only three actually had their salaries determined by an arbitrator. The rest signed before a ruling.
Here’s a look at some of the big names on the list and the impact their situations could have on their teams.
Jordan Binnington — St. Louis Blues
The 25-year-old goaltender finds himself in an interesting spot after leading his side to their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. Coming into the season, he’d only played a grand total of 13 minutes with the Blues.
A 24-5-1 regular season record to help pull the team out of the league basement, followed by steady play in the postseason, has the native of Richmond Hill, Ont. staring at a big pay bump.
According to CapFriendly, the one-year contract he had for last season was the third straight he’d signed with St. Louis for or around the league minimum. Now that he’s raised Lord Stanley’s mug over his head, he’s in Matt Murray territory.
Like Binnington, Murray was a relatively-unknown rookie netminder when he led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2016. The only difference is Murray had one year remaining on his entry-level contract after the Penguins won their championship.
Pittsburgh ended up inking him to a three-year, $11.25 million ($3.75 AVV) contract the following October. That turned out to be a pretty wise move by general manager Jim Rutherford as the Penguins went on to win it all again in 2017.
Expect Binnington to make at least “Murray money.” However, it may be difficult considering St. Louis’ current cap situation. Joel Edmundson, Zach Sanford and Oskar Sundqvist also filed for arbitration on Friday while RFAs Ivan Barbashev and Robby Fabbri are in search of new contracts.
With just short of $14 million available for Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, according to CapFriendly, things are either going to get tight or some of those names will be sent packing.
Jacob Trouba — New York Rangers
The 25-year-old blueliner shocked the hockey world in mid-June when he was traded from the Winnipeg Jets to the New York Rangers for Neal Pionk due to personal reasons.
He was one of the three players that had his salary determined by an arbitrator last season while still with the Jets. The ninth-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft ended up signing a one-year deal worth $5.5 million.
After a monstrous 82-game campaign in which he scored eight goals and set a new career-high of 50 points (his previous best was 33), expect his salary to go up when he puts pen to paper in the Big Apple.
A number of questionable deals signed by defenceman has the Rangers in a very tough spot, though. While there’s no doubt Trouba will be a top-2 blueliner on the team and should be paid as such, Kevin Shattenkirk is still on the books for two years at $6.65 per season while Marc Staal is set to make $5.7 million for the next couple of years.
When you factor that in with the fact that the team has just over $8 million in cap space, as well as Pavel Buchnevich (who also filed for arbitration) and Anthony Deangelo unsigned, general manager Jeff Gorton has likely found himself waking up in a cold sweat the last few nights after signing Artemi Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million deal on Monday.
Sam Bennett — Calgary Flames
The native of Holland Landing, Ont. has become a serviceable NHL regular since being drafted fourth overall by the Flames in 2014. A decent two-way player that can get the job done up the middle or on the wing, Bennett set career-highs of 18 goals and 36 points in his rookie season. Since then, he’s finished the last three campaigns with no more than 27 points and no less than 26.
While he’s been steady, the offensive consistency hasn’t been there and, as a result, the 23-year-old hasn’t truly had the opportunity to be a top-six forward in Calgary.
He’s coming off a two-year, $3.9 million deal that he inked in September 2017. With his numbers have plateauing since then, he can’t expect much of a pay hike. I’m expecting an AVV between $2.3 and $2.75 million. And, in all honesty, that may turn out to be too much considering the current financial spot Calgary is in.
Goaltender David Rittich also filed for arbitration and Matthew Tkachuk is a restricted free agent. Signing the three of them with the approximate $9.5 million in cap space they have remaining, according to CapFriendly, will be a difficult task.
Other Names Worth Mentioning
Pionk, the other half of the Trouba trade, has also filed for arbitration. The 23-year-old is coming off a six-goal, 26-point campaign in which his ability to fly down the ice led to a number of highlight-reel opportunities and tallies.
Expect to see him make some extra money following the two-year, $3.55 million contract he just wrapped up. How things shake out with RFAs Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor could have a big impact on his salary, though.
Will Butcher leads the list of three blueliners with the New Jersey Devils that have filed — Mirco Mueller and Connor Carrick are the others. The 24-year-old has been a steady offensive contributor for the team and has the potential to sneak into their top-four.
The Devils currently have just four defencemen under contract for the 2019-20 campaign and nearly $21 million in cap space.
Finally, Golden Knight’s puckstopper Malcolm Subban was the lone Vegas player to file. The 25-year-old has been the team’s primary backup for the past two seasons, posting an impressive 13-4-2 record in 2017-18 before going 8-10-2 last year with a 2.93 GAA and .902 SV%.
He should still see a boost from the two-year, $1.3 million deal that he just wrapped up, but Vegas is right up against the cap ceiling. The club currently has just over $2.6 million in cap space, but only five NHL-calibre blueliners under contract. Also, there’s no doubt that general manager George McPhee would love to keep RFA Nikita Gusev in the fold as well.
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