All 21 players who filed for salary arbitration settle before hearings

Mats Zuccarello was the last arbitration-bound player to settle first. (USATSI)
Mats Zuccarello was the last arbitration-bound player to reach a contract agreement. (USATSI)

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Salary arbitration is a painful process. The intent behind it is to end stalemates and get deals done. But for teams it is essentially an exercise to say why their player stinks. "This player isn't worth the money he's asking for and here's exactly why."

It's really not an ideal way to strength a relationship between a player and a franchise.

It's no wonder, then, that there will be no arbitration hearings this year. There were a total of 21 players who filed for arbitration but there won't be one that actually makes it to a hearing. When Mark Fraser and Mats Zuccarello settled with their teams on Tuesday it meant that each and every player had a new contract without having to sit through the crossfire of arbitration.

Arbitration is a powerful tool, it can be used as leverage to get a deal  done instead of going through an uncertain summer as an RFA. This summer it had a perfect conversion rate, yielding settlements in each and every case. Seems like a pretty good precursor to a deal.

More often than not, it's going to work out just fine, with agreements being reached first or even the rare amicable hearing. But it's not always going to and the risk of going to a hearing remains. Nobody wants to go there. They have been known to damage relationships sometimes beyond repair.

Take this from Adrain Dater at SI:

Horror stories from old arbitration cases remain cautionary tales for both teams and players, such as the time in 1997 when former New York Islanders GM Mike Milbury reportedly reduced Tommy Salo to tears with reasons why the goalie didn't deserve his asking price. In 2000, former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke was said to have angered John LeClair so much during an "arbo" hearing -- badmouthing the winger even though LeClair had scored 40 or more goals in each of the previous five seasons -- that their working relationship was irreparably damaged. (LeClair walked away from that bruisefest with a then-record $7 million award.) Former Colorado Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix had a well-documented history of getting rid of players not long after they filed for arbitration.

You can see why it's a process to be avoided, it's really only condusive to getting a deal done anod nothing more. If it leads to a pre-hearing deal, great. Problem solved with not much hassle. If it gets to the hearing, though, you never know what might happen. Hence GMs proved once again this summer that they avoid the hearings like the black plague.

In a way it's almost a shame that no case will meet an arbitrator this year as they can be quite entertaining or interesting but for everybody involved it's best they never get that far.

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