It has been 10 days since the first salary arbitration case was set to be heard, yet of the 24 cases, there is only one that will go the distance.
Defenseman Tyson Barrie and the Colorado Avalanche spent Friday battling it out in front of an arbitrator to decide what the blueliner is worth on his next deal. Entering the hearing, Barrie was asking for $6 million on a one-year deal, while the Avalanche were hoping to lock him up to a two-year contract that would pay Barrie slightly more than $4 million per season.
Coming off of a 13-goal, 49-point season, Barrie should be in line to receive closer to his asking price than the one the Avalanche are seeking. After all, over the past two campaigns, Barrie is the seventh-highest scoring defenseman in the entire league with 102 points in 158 games.
The 25-year-old is trending in the right direction, and it wouldn’t be shocking if he were paid handsomely on his next contract. If the arbitrator awards him anything more than $5 million, it will be the second-highest arbitrated salary in the past 10 years. Here are the five biggest arbitration awards over the past 10 off-seasons:
5. Mike Cammalleri, Los Angeles Kings, 2007
Award: Two-year contract, $3.35 million per season
Cammalleri’s first full season in the league came post-lockout, and he impressed. In 80 games with the Kings, Cammalleri potted 26 goals and 55 points, but he took things to another level in the 2006-07 campaign. Over the course of 81 games, Cammalleri scored 34 goals and 80 points, and he looked like a bonafide star. But as a 24-year-old, the Kings weren’t yet sold.
The contract talks went to arbitration, and Cammalleri was eventually handed a two-year deal worth $6.7 million. The following season, Cammalleri’s point totals dropped to 19 goals and 47 points in 63 games. That would end up being his final season in Los Angeles as he was shipped to the Calgary Flames for a first- and second-round pick in June 2008.
4. Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals, 2015
Award: One-year contract, $3.75 million per season
When Johansson elected to take the Capitals to arbitration this off-season, it wasn’t the first time he had taken that path. After Johansson had the first 20-goal season of his career and set a career-high with 47 points in 2014-15, he took Washington to arbitration to hammer out a new deal and compared to most arbitration awards, it didn’t come cheap for the Capitals.
Johansson was awarded a one-year deal and he delivered once again, notching 17 goals and 46 points this past season. And while arbitration can sometimes cause a fractious relationship, that wasn’t the case in Washington. Johansson and the Capitals avoided heading back to arbitration this season by agreeing to terms on a three-year, $13.75-million deal.
3. Nikolay Zherdev, New York Rangers, 2009
Award: One-year contract, $3.9 million per season
Zherdev came into the league with a lot of promise as Columbus’ first-round pick, fourth-overall, at the 2009 draft. It didn’t take long for him to deliver, either. By the second season of his career, he had notched 27 goals and 54 points, but he had worn out his welcome with the Blue Jackets following his career year in 2007-08. Coming off of a campaign in which he netted 26 goals and 61 points, he was shipped to the New York Rangers.
In New York, Zherdev continued to excel, scoring 23 goals and 58 points in 82 games. With 119 points in the past two seasons, Zherdev was in line for a nice raise over the $2.5 million he had made in 2008-09. However, the Rangers didn’t quite see it that way. Zherdev was awarded a one-year, $3.9 million deal, but New York walked away from the settlement and Zherdev walked away from the NHL to play in the KHL.
He returned in 2010-11 on a one-year, $2-million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, but after 16 goals and 22 points in 56 games, Zherdev headed back to Russia.
T2. Daniel Briere, Buffalo Sabres, 2006
Award: One-year contract, $5 million per season
After being shipped out of Phoenix and sent along to the Sabres in 2003, Briere became an almost instant fan favorite in Buffalo. It’s easy to understand why, too, because he was a consistent 25-goal, 60-point threat. Over the two campaigns he spent in Buffalo prior to heading to arbitration, Briere put up 52 goals and 123 points in 164 games, so it isn’t too shocking he was handed a monstrous one-year, $5-million award in arbitration.
And while Briere very well could have succumbed to the pressure of the big money deal, he didn’t. In fact, he excelled. Playing under his new deal, Briere broke the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career, potting 32 tallies and recording a career-best 95 points.
T2. Scott Gomez, New Jersey Devils, 2006
Award: One-year contract, $5 million per season
The arbitration couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Devils if they were looking to lock up Gomez for cheap, because his situation was the reverse of Briere’s. While Briere was building up to a career year, Gomez had just had his, scoring 33 goals and 81 points in the 2005-06 season. That set up a tough arbitration hearing that saw Gomez awarded $5 million on a one-year deal.
What followed was one more campaign in New Jersey — a 13-goal, 60-point year — before inking a seven-year, $51.5-million deal with the New York Rangers, which would grow to become one of the ugliest deals of the salary cap era.
1. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators, 2011
Award: One-year contract, $7.5 million per season
Operating under a tight budget has made some negotiations difficult for the Predators, and Weber’s contract situation especially was tough for Nashville and GM David Poile. Weber was coming off of a three-year, $13.5-million deal and was looking like a perennial Norris Trophy-contending defenseman when he hit arbitration in 2011. It would end up a costly arbitration for the Predators.
Weber was handed a monstrous $7.5-million award and proceeded to go out and make the most of it. He scored 19 goals and 49 points in 79 games, which led to the absolutely bonkers offer-sheet the following off-season from the Flyers. Philadelphia inked Weber to a 14-year, $110-million offer-sheet, which was matched days later by the Predators.
Weber just finished the fourth season of his 14-year deal, but it will no longer be the Predators’ contract to deal with. He was dealt this off-season to the Montreal Canadiens in a one-for-one deal for P.K. Subban in one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the salary cap era.
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