Another week, another significant deadline in the National Hockey League’s off-season. Players have until Sunday at 3 p.m. MT to inform the NHLPA and the league that they’re filing for salary arbitration.
The Flames have four players who are eligible to elect salary arbitration. It seems likely that three end up filing for arbitration, if only to put a deadline on their negotiations.
Here’s how arbitration generally works:
- The team decides if they want a one or two-year award. (Unless the player is in their final year before free agency, in which case it’s automatically a one-year award.)
- The player submits a salary ask, along with a package of comparable players that support that ask.
- The team submits a salary ask, along with a package of comparable players that support their ask.
- If they reach the hearing, each side makes their case, and the neutral arbiter decides the salary award.
- Most cases don’t reach the hearing, but having a deadline to work towards forces player and team to find a middle ground and come to a deal before a third party imposes one on them.
We’re expecting Oliver Kylington, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk to file for arbitration. However, Kylington is the only one of the three with a really clear-cut arbitration case, while the other two seem much less tidy (and therefore carry risk for both player and team).
Phillips is 24 and has played one season beyond his entry-level deal. He’s played one NHL game. He has a very weak arbitration case, because there aren’t any players with one NHL game under their belt that got paid big.
Kylington is 26 and has played two seasons beyond his ELC. He’s played 168 career NHL games and has 47 points (0.280 points per game). In 2021-22, he had 31 points in 73 games.
Since 2019, five players of Kylington’s age (and somewhat close to his experience level) have signed deals:
- Gustav Forsling (2021): signed for three seasons with a $2.667 million AAV (0.267 career points per game)
- Henri Jokiharju (2021): signed for three seasons with a $2.5 million AAV ( 0.229 career points per game)
- Brett Kulak (2019): signed for three seasons with a $1.85 million AAV (0.177 career points per game)
- Scott Harrington (2019): signed for three seasons with a $1.633 million AAV (0.171 career points per game)
- Jeremy Lauzon (2022): signed for four seasons with a $2 million AAV (0.127 career points per game)
In terms of comparables, Kylington more or less is Forsling in terms of age, experience and productivity. It seems likely that he’s the main comparable contract that long-term negotiations will circle around, and how clear-cut this is somewhat lowers the risk that a possible arbitration ruling would go in a weird direction.
Mangiapane is 26 and has played three seasons past his ELC. He’s played 260 career NHL games and has 132 points (0.508 points per game). In 2021-22, he had 55 points in 82 games.
Since 2019, four players of Mangiapane’s age (and somewhat close to his experience level) have signed deals:
- Victor Olofsson (2022): signed for two seasons with a $4.75 million AAV (0.676 career points per game)
- Tyler Bertuzzi (2021): signed for two seasons with a $4.75 million AAV (0.606 career points per game)
- Jakub Vrana (2021): signed for three seasons with a $5.25 million AAV (0.569 career points per game)
- Oliver Bjorkstrand (2021): signed for five seasons with a 5.4 million AAV (0.541 career points per game)
There seems to be a general slope here, starting at the five-year mark at around $5.3 million (ish) and creeping down a bit towards the other end. The danger here is the level of variability, in the sense that the guys that signed for shorter time periods had higher production than Mangiapane and the players with similar production signed for awhile. On a one year deal, which is what Mangiapane would get from arbitration, he’d probably get at least $4 million, but it likely depends on how heavily the arbiter weighs his most recent season.
Tkachuk is 24 and has played three seasons past his ELC. He’s played 431 career NHL games and has 382 points (0.886 points per game). He had 104 points in 82 games last season.
Tkachuk’s kind of a unicorn. Compared to Kylington and Mangiapane, there simply aren’t similar players in terms of age and general experience so we have to stretch a bit to find comparable players.
Two players are kinda close: Nikita Kucherov signed at 26 when he had 0.915 career points per game; he signed for eight seasons with a $9.5 million AAV. Mikko Rantanen signed at 22 when he had 0.874 career points per game; he signed for six seasons with a $9.25 million AAV.
On long-term deals, the Kucherov and Rantanen deals more or less set a market. But how would that translate on a one year deal? How much would the arbiter weigh Tkachuk’s 104 point outburst last season? There’s a decent amount of risk for both sides going to arbitration.
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