Where is the Line?


UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 25: Defenseman Ian White #3 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck against the New York Islanders during an NHL game at the Nassau Coliseum on March 25, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)



According to new Flames Assistant General Manager Jay Feaster, talks are not going at a promising pace when it comes to a new contract for defenceman Ian White.  It seems more and more likely that the two sides will end up meeting on July 30th in Toronto for salary arbitration.  What that means for the Flames is yet to be determined.

So let’s assume arbitration is the route being taken, for better or worse…and let’s assume no long term contract extension is agreed upon prior to next Friday.  That means the Flames will be given two choices once the judge makes a ruling on a one year contract for White: take it, or leave it.  And making that choice may not be as simple as it sounds from the outside, after really thinking about it the last few days.

On Wednesday afternoon, Thrashers forward Clarke MacArthur was awarded $2.4 million through arbitration…a dollar figure the Thrashers wanted no part of, as they decided to walk away.  Atlanta acquired MacArthur at the trade deadline in exchange for 2010 third and fourth round draft picks.  The 25 year old forward split last season, his fourth in the NHL, between Buffalo and Atlanta, putting up a career high 35 points in 81 games.  So, he sees a $1 million raise on his cap number from last year, which was at $1.4 mil.  Hmmm…$2.4 million for MacArthur? Not freaking bad at all.

So, let’s look at White’s comparables (obviously there will be less with him being a defenceman).  White turned 26 in June and now has five NHL seasons under his belt.  Last year he split time with Toronto and Calgary, putting up a career high 38 points in 83 games.  Those 38 points put him first in team scoring among defencemen and fifth overall…not bad for a guy with an $850,000 cap number last season.

Now, each arbitration case is different, we know that.  For a little depth, go back and read the FlamesNation mock arbitration for White, written up by Robert and Kent about a month ago.  A lot of time and research went into that article, and the arguments are far more compelling on the side of White than on the side of the Flames.  I have a feeling a real arbitration hearing could take a similar tone.

The fact MacArthur received the dollar figure he did by using this avenue, is it out of the question to suggest White (being a defenceman, with more points last season and more experienced) might get an even heftier number?  I know that handicapping an arbitration hearing can sometimes be foolhardy, but if White were to be awarded something between $3 and $4 million, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Back to the old assumption game…say my number is correct…what do the Flames do?  Is it a slam dunk to say they accept the deal and go forward?  Or is there the potential GM Darryl Sutter takes a look at his teams current cap situation and decides taking on that salary is not feasable?  My personal take would say go ahead and accept the terms…you can work it this season, and he’ll help you this season.  If being an unrestricted free agent is what he wants, he’ll have that opportunity in less than a year.  If something longterm is still in the plans, well, that can still be discussed.

But who knows what an arbitrator will award?  If the number is too high, the Flames cannot further hamper themselves by accepting the terms "because he was part of the Phaneuf trade."  Yes…if they walk away, the deal would end up netting Matt Stajan and Nik Hagman for Phaneuf, which is clearly not good.  But that deal has been done, and if White’s number is too high, optics and a past deal cannot factor into the equation.

All this may end up moot if White ends up signing prior to the 30th, but the countdown to an intriguing arbitration is certainly on.

  • This is basically turning out the way I thought it would – probably the way Burke thought it would too, which is why he moved White.

    When we did a poll here at the Flamesnation, the overwhelming answer was about $3.5M. That sounds about right and I’m guessing the award will be within a couple hundred grand of that number.

    I can’t see the Flames walking away (unless things get ridiculous – think 4M). If they accept, Staios really, really needs to go away.

  • marty

    i pray every night that staios gets traded for anything. but if he is gone the only way is to abbotsford. ya it is not looking promising for a decent number. i have no reason to back this thought but i don’t think it will be 4 mill. im guessing kent is right 3.5 or under ds makes it work. also this could force ds hand on what the langkow situation is looking like. if steady steve is in the minors and 4.5 coming off for lanks they have some wiggle room. i guess we’ll know in 8 days

  • Count me among the group willing to accept the terms “because he was part of the Phaneuf trade”, lol.

    Seriously, though… unless its north of 4M.

    Is it possible, maybe even likely, that the Flames trade him before the 30th? If so, what kind of return would people be happy with?

    And I wonder how Oilers brass up here is feeling with the MacArthur ruling… Gilbert Brule’s hearing is approaching. He had 17G, 37PTS in 65 games compared to MacArthur’s 16G, 35PTS in 81 games.

    In any case, if MacArthur were now willing to sign a reasonable contract, he’d be a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing the Flames take a look at. At least he’s got youth.

    • Is it possible, maybe even likely, that the Flames trade him before the 30th? If so, what kind of return would people be happy with?

      I’m not sure I’d see him being traded prior to the 30th, but if the Flames end up accepting an arbitration ruling…I think there’s a good chance the Flames try and move him during the coming season.

      That being said…if they moved him prior to next Friday…I really have no idea what type of return would be viable.

    • Back in the day, before salary caps, I would have cared a lot about what we got for Phaneuf.

      Today, I’m just happy to be out from beneath his $6.5M cap hit that was going to be hanging over us until 2014. That money is better spent elsewhere.

      I don’t see this Ian White thing ending well.

      My prediction: Sutter signs him to a one year deal as awarded by the arbitrator. Likely in the $3.5-3.75m range. Next year he goes to July 1, tests the market as a UFA, then goes to the highest bidder for somewhere in the $4-4.5m range. He’ll get Keith Ballard money at least.

      I honestly don’t see White in Calgary for more than a year.

  • If the Flames buy out Nigel Dawes, who had 14 goals and 32 points in 66 games @ $850k only to sign MacArthur (16g-19-35pts in 81 games) @ around $1.9, I might have to start cheering for another team.

    Not that I’m totally against MaCarhtur as a player, but the asset management as a whole would be absolutely deplorable.

    Therefore…I can’t see Sutter doing it. Or rather, I hope he doesn’t.

    • Fair enough. I’m not the biggest Dawes guy, but…

      There’s gotta be something more to the whole Dawes thing. I mean, I thought having played under Brent before, that Dawes & Dustin Boyd were both in a good place. Dawes did nothing on the ice to be exiled. His contract was not bad enough to be banished. There HAS to be something else! Please don’t tell me this was just another weird move by Darryl.

      • I can’t come up with a reason, beyond the fact that Sutter didn’t see a spot on the roster for him once the team added Tanguay. After Tangs, Hagman and Glencross, that would mean Dawes would start the season on the 4th line and, according to convention, you can’t have a smallish scorer playing on the 4th line! (That’s for checkers or thug-ish fighters only).

  • Bob

    Would we not need more than Staios to go away to make White fit? We all have our top 3 of those making more than their perceived worth, but could some others end up in different colors should the Flames accept the arbitrators decision? Could a David Moss be on the way out? Glencross has a salary that may be appealing and does give a slight bit of breathing room if you move out Pardy or Kronwall (I think most of us figure one or both will be in Abbotsford anyways, right). Does Hagman at $3 million still entice some interest.

    I’d like to see White around another year. But one more year is likely it. Even if we can fit his expected salary in, by this time next year we hopefully will be giving a big number contract to Gio (baring a bad year). As it stands right now, for next year we have 14 guys signed at just over $50 million.

    I am at a loss to explain or understand how the future forecasting is done for this team. As recently as 2007 I could look at the roster, see the salaries and cap hits and could almost see where Darryl had room and flexibility to plug holes with what seemed like the right personel. Did it always work? No it didn’t (Jeff Friesen), but it is a gamble and I think most of us realize that. But the past couple of years the logic escapes me, and I don’t think I’m alone.

    The best analogy I can come up with is…have you ever cleaned out your closet, only so you had room for the junk you just cleaned out of your truck?? In the end, your closet is still crammed full of crap!

    • I’d like to see White around another year. But one more year is likely it. Even if we can fit his expected salary in, by this time next year we hopefully will be giving a big number contract to Gio (baring a bad year).

      I agree with you…if White isn’t signing a long term extension prior to the unpleasantness of arbitration, why is he going to want to re-up after it’s done?

      But the Giordano thing is still very interesting…I’ve said it before. I’m not convinced he’s back once he’s done this contract.

    • Bob

      I totally agree, but how? Unless he’s willing to agree to a trade, you still have to hope another team is wanting him. Even then, Darryl is likely looking at having to agree to take a “problem” from that team and bring him here. At this point I’d take a 7th rounder just to dump the salary…knowing Darryl he’d throw in our 4th round pick to complete the deal though.

      I know rumours were out there that Kotalik was headed to the KHL, but his agent is shooting those down (for now). I can’t see Darryl throwing a $3 million player into the AHL. I’m sure they’ve discussed a buy-out, but that’s still a good chunk of cash each year for the next 4 years.

      What has D-Sutter gotten us into??

  • Bob

    I think what is really sad about all of this, is that I remember watching Kotalik play for Buffalo. He could be a real offensive force…WHEN HE WANTED TO BE!

    Maybe when faced with the reality of playing a whole season in the minors, he’ll maybe contact the KHL and the Flames can loan him to a team.

  • I still don’t think it was a good deal for us BUT if we sign White for something reasonable and he is a consistent 3-4 D for years to come, the sting won’t be as bad.

    If White is allowed to walk or the arb # is ridiculous, the trade is a total joke and there is NO reason that Sutter should keep his job. Letting one of the organizations only elite (even if perceived) assets in 10 years go for a too expensive Stajan and Hags would be completely stupid.

    For all those Sutter supporters will you please help justify this trade?

  • @RossCreek

    The funny thing about MacArthur is the connection he was with Stefan Meyer. Both played in Med Hat, both played in Crapchester…so, that one isn’t out of the question.


    It won’t be hard to bury Kotalik in the minors either, because he’s cleared waivers once already. So, if that’s what they want to do…they’ve got that option. I’d imagine Staios is the same way.

  • I hope we sign White just so we have something to trade with at some point this year. We all know Darryl loves the deadline. He’s an asset in the eyes of most GM’s that could probably garner a decent forward/prospect/pick.

    When everything’s said and done I think ownership is going to have to bite the bullet and have 5.7 M worth of Staois & Kotalik playing in the AHL.

    • White will be a UFA as of July 1 next year. His arbitration contract will only be 1 year. That being the case, his value at the trade deadline is very low. Classic rental for a 3-4 defenceman.

    • Oyo

      Is your question predicated under the assumption that their performance this past year matches their performance in the upcoming year?

      If so, then speaking strictly for myself, then yes… if it were a choice between the two I would rather have Giordano then White. Naturally I would prefer both and think that so long as Sutter get’s his head out of the ground and finds some way to move Staois and Sarich without punting away other assets in the process it’s a viable option.

  • I think we have a million possible scenarios that are available for the flames at the start of the season. I think we sign White after the Arb. hearing and he will be gone after one year.

    I think Phaneuf was beyond overrated; in my eyes he is the second coming of Souray. If he turns out different, good for him, but i’m not holding my breath.

    My main point is this: What if Langkow doesnt start the season? That will free up some cap space to play a Staois or Kotalik.

    Also, if Kotalik doesn’t want to goto the KHL, does the guy wake up and realize that its do or die for his career? If it was just about money he would be in the KHL, but if he truly wants to be here I do expect something better out of him.

    Whatever happens, if anything good is to come out of this season its going to rely on one simple premise. The players who are on this team play to their previous pedigree.

  • I’d take Stralman if the CBJ’s let him walk over White. White won’t stay more than a year, and lets face it, Calgary is in no way challenging for the cup next season. Might as well lock in a talented young guy for less than White who looks to have a promising future, and can help on the PP as well. Two strong PP units won’t hurt the Flames. Not to mention having to re-sign Gio once he’s up.

    • MC Hockey

      From what I’ve heard of his play with CBJ, Stralman was decent, but nothing to write home about. I doubt he’s got a ceiling as high as White; White is good, and well worth 3-4 mil, in my opinion. His numbers were goosed in Toronto, but we all saw him playing here taking on the heavies with Regehr, and he was a very solid top 4 defenceman. Excellent for a 2nd pairing d-man, and I think he could even play top pairing without hurting the team.

      One of the only good things I can take out of last season is the possibility of a long-term top 4 of Regehr/JBo/Gio/White, which is a pretty damn good top 4. And if one of them has to be traded, it had better be Regehr or JBo, because they will garner the biggest return and would be the greatest cap relief (additionally, Regehr arguably might have a nagging injury that decreases his effectiveness from here on out, and I think JBo is overpaid). You trade the rights to White or Gio and I think you can expect an unacceptable return.

  • MC Hockey

    I bet you Flames are in market to make a trade to get rid of 1 or more D-men. In using http://www.capgeek.com‘s Team Positional Comparison, a likely destination is Anaheim who have few D signed and need more experience. I could see Flames trading either White (hope not), Staios (yes please), or Sarich (why not) to Anaheim. But again, we may need to take a “big contract” or “bad contract” back. Since Anaheim also may want a Finn to play with Koivu when Selanne officially retires, a trade of Hagman plus one D to Ducks for a bad contract in Jason Blake could happen. At least Flames save $ that way and have a possibly decent forward in exchange to allow them to hopefully KEEP younger/better D-mean like White (PLEEASE!), Pardy, and allow Pelech a true chance to play with Flames this year. WHat do you all think?

  • Ian White could easily be awarded 3.5..

    The avg.cap hit of Quincey &Hamhuis works out to 3.85 which is about right for 1 year deal.

    I’d say White’s experience over Quincey’s is an asset but he’s not quite as good as Hamhuis.

    The Flames need to make a philosophical shift away from depth at the blueline and invest in legitimate top 6 talent.