Posted on: August 2, 2011 11:02 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 11:28 pm
By: Adam Gretz
On the same day Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators went through the arbitration process, another player was able to avoid it. The New York Islanders and forward Blake Comeau came to an agreement on a one-year deal on Tuesday night that is worth $2.5 million according to Newsday's Katie Strang.
Comeau was scheduled for arbitration on Aug. 4, which would have been the final hearing for this offseason. Once Weber's contract situation gets settled, every player that was scheduled for arbitration will be taken care of, with Weber's being the only one to actually go through the hearing.
The 25-year-old winger is coming off what was the best season of his brief career, scoring 24 goals in 77 games. He was one of five Islanders players to hit the 20-goal plateau last season, joining Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau. Along with that, he was also one of New York's top penalty killing options last season logging just over two minutes of shorthanded ice-time per game, and even managed to add a shorthanded goal.
With Comeau signed the Islanders currently have 23 players under contract for the upcoming season, taking up just over $45.9 million in cap space. They still have two remaining restricted free agents in Josh Bailey and Jesse Joenssu.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 2, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 8:51 pm
By: Adam Gretz
After they were unable to work out a new contract the Nashville Predators and their captain, Shea Weber, went through the arbitration process on Tuesday morning. While we won't know the ruling until Thursday morning at the latest (the arbiter has 48 hours to decide), we do have an idea as to what numbers the two sides went in with.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Weber requested a one-year salary of $8.5 million, while the Predators presented an offer of $4.75 million. The arbiter can choose any number between those two figures.
Weber, who turns 26 in a couple of weeks, is coming off his second consecutive 16-goal season from the blueline. He's managed to score at least 16 goals in four of the past five years, and only appeared in 54 games the one season he didn't reach that mark. He has a booming slap shot and pretty much every trait a team looks for in a franchise defenseman, and can still get better.
The salary figure he requested is a definitely significant one.
He earned $4.5 million last season in what was the final year of a three-year contract he signed in 2008. If by some chance he were to be rewarded $8.5 million -- and that is unlikely -- it would be the fourth largest cap hit in the league next season, traiiling only Alex Ovehckin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It would also be the largest cap hit among defenseman. As far as the base salary is concerned, it would be tied with Boston's Zdeno Chara as the eighth largest in the NHL, and tied for second among defenseman, trailing only the $10 million in base salary Buffalo's Christian Erhoff is set to make.
But that's if he gets that amount, and that's unlikely to happen. Just as it's unlikely that Nashville doesn't really feel its captain, best player, and one of the best players in the league at his position is only worth a slight raise over last year's salary. As Jeremy Gover at Section 303 pointed out, this is simply Nashville's way of keeping the 2011 salary at a more manageable figure since the arbiter typically picks a number between the two proposals. By shooting lower, it's likely the Predators, a team that doesn't exactly have a bottomless pit of funds at its disposal, can get a more atrractive deal for the upcoming season.
They know Weber is worth more than that -- and will get more than that -- just like Weber knows he's not going to walk away as one of the ten highest paid players in the NHL. At least not for another couple of years.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 1:21 pm
By: Adam Gretz
If the NHL salary cap has done anything during its existence it's forced teams to identify a core of players to build around. With a limit on spending teams aren't going to be able to keep every single player they want, or build a completely well-rounded team without flaws. Eventually tough decisions will have to be made on who to keep and who to let go.
In the cap era teams that make deep runs into the postseason have been pretty consistent with the structure of having nearly 50 percent of their league-allotted cap space tied up in a core of just five players. But in recent years, specifically the past two, the salary cap has increased rather significantly, all the way to the point where the salary floor for the 2011-12 season is higher than the actual cap was back in 2005-06.
Will that change the structure of teams from having a core of just five players, to perhaps a core of six or seven?
Let's take a look at last year's 16 playoff teams and how their top-five salaries fit under the 2011-12 cap of $64.3 million…
*Nashville's number will surely increase once Shea Weber's contract is settled this week, and the same thing goes for Los Angeles whenever Drew Doughty signs a new contract.
I spoke with one NHL executive a couple of weeks ago on the subject and he agreed that most teams, if not every team, see the current NHL structure as having to invest a significant portion of their resources into a core group of players, but that there are still several key factors that go into the roster construction.
For one, you have to have the players worthy of that sort of investment. Throwing large money at mediocrity isn't going to win anything.
The other factor at work is that some of these teams, like Phoenix and Nashville for example, aren't concerned with the league-wide cap and are instead working against their own financial restrictions, which can put them at a sizable disadvantage, not all that different from the ones these teams faced prior to the salary caps existence. The Predators, who are set to go to arbitration with one of their best players, Shea Weber, on Tuesday, have an easily identifiable core of Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne. There's already been concern about their ability to keep them together for the long haul. So even with the cap there's still teams that struggle to keep their home-grown Stars.
But for the teams that have the funds at their disposal, the latest cap increase has made it easier to not only keep their best, core players under contract, but to also increase that "core" (at least until -- or if -- the cap goes down at some point) and potentially keep even more players that they may have otherwise had to part ways with in recent years due to cap restrictions.
Look at it this way: Last season the top-four playoff seeds in each conference (including both Stanley Cup final teams) had at least 50 percent of the $59.4 million cap invested in just five players, while four of them had as much as 55 percent invested in their top-five cap hits. As you can see in the table above, only one team at this point in the offseason -- Washington -- hits that mark, which is an example as to how much the cap has increased, and how much additional room the deep pocketed teams with talent have to work with.
All salary cap figures via CapGeek
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 1, 2011 8:43 am
By: Adam Gretz
IT'S VOTE DAY FOR THE Islanders It's August 1 and that means it's a huge day for the future of the New York Islanders franchise. Today is the day Nassau County residents will vote on whether or not to pass a referendum that would fund a new arena for the storied franchise. Their two closest rivals, the Rangers and Devils, have already spoken out in favor of the deal, and the Islanders PR blitz has been on for quite a while. Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank reviews the all of the pluses and minuses of everything that's gone on, and offers a prediction on what will happen when the polls close at 9 PM.
TAMPA BAY'S 'BE THE TICKET' PROMOTION The Tampa Bay Lightning are running a Facebook promotion that will give their fans an opportunity to have their face on a ticket stub for a game during the 2010-11 season. The folks at Raw Charge have some thoughts on the promotion, and if you're a Lightning fan that wants to have the opportunity to have your mug on a ticket stub, here's where to go.
MORE ON WEBER'S ARBITRATION So far this summer every potential arbitration case has been avoided due to the team and player coming to an agreement. In the case of Shea Weber, that doesn't appear as if it's going to happen, so both sides are preparing for Tuesday's hearing. Is Weber, the Predators' All-Star level defenseman, only looking for a one-year deal instead of two? That's what Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck looks at after a since-deleted Tweet from TSN's Ryan Rishaug suggested Weber was only looking for a one-year deal.
WINNIPEG: THE HOCKEY SONG And now for something completely random, and perhaps even a little ridiciulous, here's a gentlemen that goes by the name of Sugar Free Leonard welcoming the return of the Winnipeg Jets through song. We give him credit for putting himself out there. Video via Puck Daddy:
Posted on: July 28, 2011 10:35 am
ALWAYS BE PREPARED: Even though all other arbitration hearings haven't come to fruition so far (not counting Chris Campoli, who the Blackhawks decided to walk away from well before), Shea Weber and the Predators are both preparing for their battle (the Tennesseean). The chances still are good that a deal will be reached in time, but the sides maintain they aren't close right now. The arbitration meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 2, so expect things to stay at a stalemate until Monday. If they still go to arbitration, then Nashville has to take whatever award Weber gets since it filed for arbitration and it will only be a one- or two-year deal. You can see why the Preds would love to handle this on their own.
PITTSBURGH IS ON THE CLOCK? No site has been selected for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft yet, but Pittsburgh has stepped to the front of the table as the leader (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). The city's main foe appears to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last year the draft was held in Minnesota. But that's not all the Penguins are up to in the middle of the summer. The team is also going to unveil a Mario Lemieux statue outside of the arena at some point before then. Certainly a worthy gesture.
GETTING WITH THE TIMES FORUM: Steven Stamkos got the most money from Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, but a close second is the St. Pete Times Forum. The team's new owner Jeff Vinik is serious about rebuilding the franchise, and one of those steps is rebuilding the arena. The Forum is in the process of receiving a $35 million facelift (St. Petersburg Times) to the arena which will feature a whole bunch of new and interesting aspects. You know the pirate ship at Tampa's football stadium? Well the Lightning are looking for something similar as far as a recognizable destination goes. The way team CEO Tod Leiweke put it: "we felt the building in some ways needed a soul."
BACKUP BLUE: When free agency began, the Blues got in the action by signing former Senators goaltender Brian Elliott. It wasn't long after that they re-signed massive (literally) prospect Ben Bishop to the same exact two-way contract as Elliott. Now the two are primed for a camp battle for the same spot. Pro Hockey Talk takes a look at the backup battle and notes its importance considering Jaroslav Halak played a career high in games last season and it was just 57. The backup will certainly be relied upon.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:26 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 4:55 pm
Nobody wants to go to arbitration. The next time you hear any involved party is excited for arbitration battles will be the first.
It can be dangerous. It can certainly be ugly. It is always contentious.
The nature of the best resembles part of Festivus with the Airing of Grievances. At least there are no Feats of Strength as an arbiter lays down the decision instead of the sides fighting it out. The involved parties are forced to justify their stance in the negotiations, resulting in teams putting down their own player. Not a desirable stance to have to take.
Because of the combative nature, the process has been known to cause strains in relationships between teams and players. It's exactly why teams try to avoid the process more fervently than someone looks to evade root canals.
For that reason arbitration meetings often times don't happen. It's amazing how much easier it is to strike a deal with a deadline speeding up the negotiations. Always worked that way for me to get book reports done in school; nothing like a deadline of two days away to read the first page.
So it is highly likely only a few of the names headed to arbitration will actually have their hearing. That goes for the two biggest names on the list, Shea Weber and Zach Parise. The Predators and Devils respectively will try and hammer out contracts before an arbiter gets to set the reward. This has happened to three players in the last day as the Jets avoided a hearing with Blake Wheeler, the Ducks with Andrew Cogliano and the Sabres with Andrej Sekera, all reaching new deals.
But there will still be hearings. Teddy Purcell and the Lightning will have their case heard tomorrow, the first day, along with Lauri Korpikovski and the Coyotes. The next case will be Brandon Dubinsky and the Rangers. All of those hearings should happen with the potential for the Rangers/Dubinsky battle to be a tough one seeing as the sides still seem to be pretty far apart.
Or you will have the cases where teams just walk away from the award. It happened last year with Clarke MacArthur in Atlanta and more notably with Antti Niemi in Chicago, the teams electing to let the player find another team than pay them the determined amount. It will happen again this year to a Blackhawks player as the team has already said it cannot afford to bring Chris Campoli back.
Last year in total five players got as far as the arbitration hearing. Three of those players' awards were not matched. Teams are only allowed to walk away in a situation where the player filed for arbitration and the reward is $1.7 million or more. Anything less than that and the player stays put, regardless.
Obviously the most interesting cases are those of Parise and Weber. They are both franchise players and are due for substantial raises. The case of Weber is particularly appealing since the signing of Drew Doughty in Los Angeles seems to be waiting for the precedent set by the future Weber contract.
With all of that as the background, here's a list of all the players who, as of now, are scheduled for their turns in the ol' testy tango of arbitration. Expect names to disappear from this list faster than Michael J. Fox in family photos.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Antti Niemi, Arbitration, Blake Comeau, Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Stubits, Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Campoli, Clarke MacArthur, Jannik Hansen, Josh Gorges, Lauri Korpikoski, Mark Fraser, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Ryan Callahan, Shea Weber, Tampa Bay Lightning, Teddy Purcell, Vancouver Canucks, Zach Parise
Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 3:54 pm
By Adam Gretz
With the increase to the NHL's salary cap this offseason (all the way up to $64.3 million), there was also an increase in the salary floor, which is now up to $48.3 million, a number that is higher than the actual cap was during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. As of Monday, there were still seven teams that needed to reach the floor, according to CapGeek, the best salary cap resource anywhere on the Internet.
Here are the seven teams, the amount of money they need to spend to reach the floor (via CapGeek), and the number of spots they have remaining to fill out a 23-man roster:
The problem for some of these teams will be spending the necessary money on players that can actually make a positive impact, or an impact that will equal the financial commitment. What started as a weak free agent class has already been picked over, and whatever meat is remaining on the bones consists of ... well, let's just say less-than-attractive options.
The real winners in this are the second-, third- and fourth-tier free agents -- as well as the restricted free agents -- that could snag a larger salary than they normally would because these clubs have to spend a predetermined amount of money. Or the team that has an albatross contract it desperately wants to rid itself of (kind of like how the Chicago Blackhawks managed to find a taker -- the Florida Panthers -- in Brian Campbell's contract).
Moving past the Islanders, the Predators still have the most money to spend but also have the biggest restricted free agent remaining of the aforementioned clubs in defenseman Shea Weber. He's scheduled for an arbitration hearing in early August and will almost surely take up a large chunk of the remaining $7 million the Nashville front office is required to spend.
The Predators had a restricted free agency issue centered on the timing of their qualifying offers and needed to work out deals with Cal O'Reilly, Matt Halischuk, Chris Mueller, Nick Spaling and leading goal-scorer Sergei Kostitsyn. They managed to work out contracts with all of them last week to avoid any further complications, including the possibility the players could be granted unrestricted free agency. Those five contracts also helped narrow the gap to the salary floor.
Carolina is less than a $1 million away from reaching the floor with two spots to fill, which should be done with ease. Pretty much any two additions, even if they're minor league roster-filler, will jump the Hurricanes over the threshold, and the team still has to work out a deal with restricted free agent Brandon Sutter, who scored 14 goals a year ago.
The Jets should also have little trouble reaching the minimum as they still have restricted free agents Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian and Ben Maxwell. The Coyotes and Avalanche have restricted free agents of their own to sign, while the Senators have to look outside the organization for its remaining $1.2 million.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:41 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 3:41 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Entering Friday the Nashville Predators were one of seven teams that still needed to reach the NHL's salary cap floor of $48.3 million. The team inched closer to that figure Thursday by signing four of their restricted free agents (Cal O'Reilly, Chris Mueller, Nick Spaling and Matt Halischuk).
On Friday, the Predators came to an agreement with another of their restricted free agents by signing Sergei Kostitsyn to a one-year, $2.5 million deal, according to the team.
The Predators were in a unique situation with the aforementioned players as the NHLPA was arguing that the team didn't send out its qualifying offers in time, which could have resulted in all five players being eligible for unrestricted free agency had they not been signed to new deals.
The Chicago Blackhawks found themselves in a similar situation a couple of years ago when the qualifying offers to their restricted free agents were, for all intents and purposes, lost in the mail.
Last offseason Nashville took a chance on the inconsistent Kostitsyn and acquired him in a trade with Montreal in exchange for goaltender Dan Ellis and forward Dustin Boyd. The Predators were rewarded for their gamble as Kostitsyn ended up leading the team with 23 goals and 50 points. He did, however, struggle in the playoffs by not scoring a single goal in 12 postseason games.
He earned $550,000 during the 2010-11 season.
With Kostitsyn back in the mix, Nashville is now a little less than $8 million away from reaching the cap floor and still needs to work out a deal with its remaining restricted free agent -- and arguably its best player -- defenseman Shea Weber. If the two sides can't work out an agreement, Weber is scheduled to have an arbitration hearing Aug. 2.