- Hockey Rambling
- Written by Thomas Drance
Montreal Canadiens defender P.K. Subban isn't sharing details regarding the state of contract negotiation between his camp (he's represented by Don Meehan of Newport Sports Agency), and the Canadiens. In this case, no news is probably good news for Habs fans, even if it's bad news for pageview hungry hockey bloggers.
Subban did reveal that negotiations are being kept intentionally quiet, after adding earlier in the week that he hopes to be a "lifer" with the Canadiens. Taken as a whole, it sure seems unlikely that Subban's salary for next season and beyond will be decided by the award of an arbitrator.
Subban's salary arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday, August 1; and the two sides have to exchange "briefs" no less than 48 hours beforehand (or, on Wednesday morning). Those briefs will include Montreal's term election (two-years is kind of a no-brainer) as well as the figure each side is seeking from the arbitrator. I'll be very curious to see if negotiations last that long, because if they do, we'll get more details about how the two sides see Subban's value when those salary arbitration award targets leak.
One guy who is reportedly poised to actually go through the arbitration process is Florida Panthers forward Jimmy Hayes. The mammoth 24-year-old forward showed some touch at the net front last season, scoring 11 goals and adding 7 assists in 55 appearances split between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Panthers.
Despite the latest news about the Panthers and Hayes being far enough apart that an arbitration hearing might be warranted, I'd be pretty surprised if it occurred. As far as I can tell, the last player to actually go through with an arbitration hearing might have been Shea Weber (certainly all 15 cases settled a year ago, and all 16 the year before that, and even Vladimir Sobotka is listed as a "settlement" on the NHLPA website so 16 of 23 scheduled hearings have been settled this summer, too).
Salary arbitration hearings appear to be like offer sheets, they just don't seem to happen anymore.
Derick Brassard and the New York Rangers have 'exchanged briefs' ahead of their scheduled salary arbitration hearing, which is set to take place on Monday morning in Toronto. The two sides are over a $1 million apart in their award targets, with Brassard seeking just under $5 million and the Rangers countering with just under $4.
I have a lot of optimism for Brassard and think he's more than capable of filling Brad Richards' top-six spot for the Rangers next season, I also think this one is a slam-dunk to get settled before Monday's hearing. Brassard is too good, the Rangers have too much space after locking up Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider on the cheap last week, centermen are at too big a premium to risk alienating, and that $1 million gap just doesn't seem insurmountable.
The Ottawa Senators are poised to begin negotiating potential contract extensions with capable forwards like Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, according to assistant general manager Pierre Dorion. It'll be fascinating to see how these negotiations turn out, in particular since the Senators have seen a steady outflow of star talent in recent seasons (Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson). Can the Senators reverse the recent trend, and prove that they're able to retain star-level talent this time around (with Bobby Ryan in particular)? I have my doubts...
The Leafs avoided salary arbitration with James Reimer this week, so the attention will now turn to their last remaining NHL-level restricted free agent Jake Gardiner. Maple Leafs general manager (but for how long?) Dave Nonis doesn't seem to think it'll be too difficult to negotiate a contract with the fast defender.
What may prove more difficult is convincing Maple Leafs head coach (but for how long?) Randy Carlyle to use Gardiner more suitably - in particular allowing him a longer leash to freelance a bit and carry the puck through the neutral zone, though ladling out more minutes to Gardiner is probably a good call too.
Of the 13 skaters that Gardiner has spent more than 300 even-strength minutes with in his career, 10 have done better by shot attempt differential with the American-born puck-mover on the ice, than they've done without him (and one of the exceptions in Luke Schenn so...). Basically Gardiner is really good at something the Maple Leafs - as a team - have not been in the Carlyle-era.
One of Gardiner's most interesting "with or without you" splits is with Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. The two offensive-minded blue-liners have shared the ice as a pairing at five-on-five for a total 304 minutes and 52 seconds since 2010-11. In those minutes, the Maple Leafs have outscored their opponents, while controlling 53 percent of shot attempts.
It's a miniscule sample, but I'd still imagine it's worth giving Phaneuf and Gardiner an extended shot as a specialized pairing - one that gets fed offensive-zone starts and secondary competition - this upcoming season.
One team that has issue retaining and attracting star level talent? The Chicago Blackhawks. Newly signed Blackhawks center Brad Richards said this weekend that half the league would play for the Blackhawks were it not for a salary cap. I'd perhaps formulate that thought a bit differently, while thinking of Andrew Ladd, Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien among others: nearly half the league actually *has* played for the Blackhawks because of the salary cap.
Here's a "thing fantasy owners should want to be aware of," new Carolina Hurricanes
coach Bill Peters discussed some of his ideas for power-play units at length this weekend. In particular, Peters suggested putting Alex Semin on the right point and playing sophomore forward Elias Lindholm up front with Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal on the Hurricanes' first power-play unit. One of Justin Faulk or Ryan Murphy would, according to Peters, fill out the five-man unit by occupying the left point.
What a coach says in July obviously isn't gospel, but if Lindholm - who didn't do much in his rookie season, really (though he crushed the U20 tournament) - logs first unit power-play minutes this upcoming season, that could make him an intriguing fantasy sleeper.
Finally, I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it (I work the night shift Tuesday, so if I can make it, I'll have to show up pretty late) but there's a Dobber Hockey event happening this Tuesday night in the Toronto area. Details here.