- Hockey Rambling
- Written by Thomas Drance
It certainly seems like we're not going to get an actual arbitration hearing again this summer.
All 15 of the scheuled salary arbitration hearings a year ago were settled, and with Ryan O'Reilly and the Avalanche agreeing to terms on a two-year, $12 million settlement on Wednesday morning, it seems likely that no one will actually make it to their hearing once again this summer (not including Vladimir Sobotka). O'Reilly was surely the most likely case to go to salary arbitration since the Avalanche were seeking to reduce his actual salary by 80% and the two sides actually went right to the brink before agreeing to a two-year deal.
The contract, which will carry an AAV of $6 million per season and walks O'Reilly to unrestrcited free agency at the very young age of 25, does reduce O'Reilly's salary, but not by much. Anyway, O'Reilly will surely recoup that money (and more) if he actually does hit the open market in the summer of 2016. If he stays healthy and productive and wants it, he'll be able to get a long-term deal with a $10 million+ AAV that summer, I'd imagine.
Lots of ifs, of course, but that's where I think this is headed.
Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations (what a mouthful, eh?) Joe Sakic rather preposterously brushed away questions about the testy relationship between O'Reilly and his franchise, writing it off as a media creation. Considering the history here - from O'Reilly's father's controversial comments, to the Jay Feaster offer sheet, to the team filing for cutback arbitration, to agent Pat Morris' pointed comments and Sakic's firm rejoinder - it's clear that there's a lot more going on than the media making mountains out of molehills.
O'Reilly will become eligible to sign a contract extension again next summer, so the two sides get a year to dust themselves off before getting back to it, but after all the water under the bridge, it's tough to imagine that this ends with O'Reilly signed long-term in Denver.
In other settlement news, the New York Rangers met Chris Krieder more than half-way as the two sides avoided arbitration by coming to terms on a two-year, $4.95 million contract on Wednesday. It was the second time this week that the Rangers managed to avoid salary arbitration, and they've now locked up Krieder and Zuccarello for less than $6 million combined. That's solid work, though the Rangers have one more salary arbitration hearing on the horizon with Derick Brassard scheduled to have his hearing on Monday.
Briefs will be exchanged Saturday morning and then we'll get a better idea of how Brassard is valuing himself after an excellent season a year ago. I'd imagine his initial ask will be in excess of $5 million though...
With Zuccarello settling on Wednesday, there's only one salary arbitration hearing on the docket for the balance of this week - the Montreal Canadiens vs. Lars Eller. If I had to pick one of the remaining scheduled hearings that is most likely to be decided by an arbitrators award, it would probably be this one, particularly because it became apparent on Wednesday when the two sides exchanged briefs that they are pretty far apart on their award targets.
The Canadiens are looking to sign Eller to a contract worth $1.65 million, which is Nick Bonino/Sean Couturier-type money. Eller's camp, meanwhile, is looking for $3.1 million which is Tyler Johnson, Derek Stepan money.
Even though the Canadiens award target is literally 53% of what Eller's camp is, it would seem that a Brayden Schenn-type deal makes sense for both sides. As we've seen over the past two summers, nobody - not teams, not players - has any desire to have their pay (or payroll) decided by a neutral third-party, no matter how far apart the two sides are when briefs are exchanged.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to former Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche defender Cory Sarich, who sustained a pretty terrifying back injury during a biking accident.
Huge news this week with the Maple Leafs hiring advanced stat proponent Kyle Dubas from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Some interesting comments from TSN's Darren Dreger on Tuesday, that might imply a bit of a rift in Toronto's front office. That's obviously not surprising, especially considering the way Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis have seen their people dismissed while they've been retained, but it'll be very interesting to see how this big management group functions (or dysfunctions).
Former Hamilton Bulldogs/Ottawa Senators/Colorado Avalanche defender Andre Benoit signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. It's an interesting move, particularly because it's kind of amazing that the Sabres only have five defenders - that's after adding Benoit, I might add - on one-way NHL contracts. The Sabres blue-line is going to be very young next season, but with players like Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen, Chad Ruhwedel and Nikita Zadorov all likely to push for a roster spot, it could also be pretty talented.
Huge difference between "pretty talented" and "effective at the NHL level" though. The NHL eats its young, and will eat the Sabres defense-corps - which lost far and away its best player this summer in Christian Ehrhoff - for breakfast next season.
So how about Aaron Sanchez? Yeah okay, I've got nothing!
Get outside and enjoy the day, talk to your loved ones and cook outside if you can. You might as well, because I suspect Thursday is going to be among the slowest hockey news days of the summer.