The NHL has just set up hearings for all the players who filed for arbitration. Keep in mind, agreements can be reached between the team and the player before the hearing. Braden Holtby will sit down with the arbitrator on Thursday, July 23. Marcus Johansson, who seems to be flying entirely under the radar this free agency period, will have his hearing on Wednesday, July 29.
Other notable NHLers going to arbitration are Edmonton’s Justin Schultz (July 24), Nashville’s Colin Wilson (July 28), New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan (July 27), and Philadelphia’s Michael Del Zotto (July 21). Of this list, only Schultz’s hearing is club-elected.
Keep in mind, there is a lot of time left to not see an arbitrator. These hearings typically result in short-term deals for less than what the player wants to earn and more than what the team wants to pay. Basically, the team and the player sit down in front of a neutral third party (the arbitrator) to decide what the contract of the player should be for the next season. If the team decides to decline the contract offered by the arbitrator, the player will then become an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Each arbitrator has two days after the hearing to announce their decision.
Each side can and cannot present certain things during the hearing. For instance, the player is not allowed to discuss the salary of a comparable player who signed as a UFA. Granted, there were not that many goalie signings for this offseason (objection sustained Devan Dubnyk), so Holtby has little to go on anyway. Johansson may have been able to use this, but it is against the rules.
Teams are prohibited from using their financial state or salary cap situation as leverage. This should not be a problem for the Caps, who still have over $10 million to spend before hitting the salary cap. This is meant to prevent small-budget teams like Florida from using their meager funding as an excuse for giving a player his fair share and large-budget teams from withholding due payment.
If a contract is agreed upon before the hearing, the hearing is no longer necessary.
Caps fans should have nothing to worry about. Holtby’s negotiations have been well publicized and seem to be positive. Johansson’s, on the other hand, have slipped past most media outlets. The decision now rests with GM MacLellan to keep negotiating or wait for arbitration.