Tyson Barrie tops key RFAs to watch at salary arbitration deadline
Now that the frenzy of unrestricted free agency has played out, NHL teams will spend the next two days focusing on their restricted free agents and the looming deadlines for salary arbitration.
The process, which is available to certain RFAs based on service time, allows for an independent third party to establish a one- or two-year salary based on comparable deals. Players have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to elect arbitration. After the deadline passes, a 24-hour window opens for the teams to choose the process.
UPDATE: A total of 24 players have chosen to go to arbitration: Michael Stone (Coyotes), Tyson Barrie and Mikhail Grigorenko (Avalanche), Jared Coreau and Danny DeKeyser (Red Wings), Jordan Schroeder (Wild), Petter Granberg and Calle Jarnkrok (Predators), Kyle Palmieri (Devils), Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Dylan McIlrath and J.T. Miller (Rangers), Mike Hoffman (Senators), Brandon Manning, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Weal (Flyers), Jaden Schwartz (Blues), Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov (Lightning), Frank Corrado, Peter Holland and Martin Marincin (Maple Leafs), and Marcus Johansson (Capitals).
The one name everyone is watching: Colorado's Tyson Barrie. Both the team and the player are looking for a long-term deal, but with no middle ground yet found it appears that Barrie will opt to file. The 24-year-old is coming off a 13-goal, 49-point season that established him as one of the top young puck-moving defenders in the league. The inability of the two sides to come to an agreement has caused trade rumors to swirl for weeks, with Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton thought to be among the most interested suitors. Colorado GM Joe Sakic has said he won't move the player, but strained relations suggest it's still a possibility.
Ottawa forward Mike Hoffman seems likely to file for the second consecutive year. Last time around, he was awarded a one-year, $2-million contract. The 26-year-old responded with a career-best 29-goal, 59-point season and looks to be in line for a big raise. The Senators are hoping to get a contract done prior to arbitration, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun but history suggests that might be easier said than done. As with Barrie, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Sens look to move Hoffman before it gets to that point.
UPDATE: Looks like Hoffman will go to arbitration:
No longer the “goalie of the future” in Detroit, Petr Mrazek is ready to earn a starter's salary. Best-case scenario for the Red Wings is to get Mrazek signed to a bridge deal that pays him in the neighborhood of $3.5-$4 million with an eye on a bigger contract down the road. But if the netminder decides to test arbitration, it could cost the team dearly. He's posted numbers (27-16-6, 2.33 GAA, .921 save pct.) comparable to Toronto's Frederik Andersen (22-9-7, 2.30, .918), who recently was signed to a deal that pays him an AAV of $5 million, and that's a figure that Wings GM Ken Holland can't afford.
Devils GM Ray Shero believes he can negotiate a deal with leading scorer Kyle Palmieri, but understands what he's up against. "We all know the fall back is going to be filing for arbitration, and if it's that, it will be a two-year deal," Shero said. "I don't think either side wants that, and that's not what I expect, so I hope it goes in that direction we hope it's going."
Palmieri is coming off a breakthrough season in which he set new career highs in goals (30), assists (27) and points (57). There's always hesitation on the part of a team to overpay based on one good season, but there's also reason to believe the 25-year-old can build on that success, especially with newly acquired Taylor Hall on hand to take some of the defensive heat off him. There's a better than zero chance that Palmieri passes on arbitration with an eye on finding an acceptable long-term deal.
That may not be an option in New York, where the cap-strapped Rangers are facing the possibility of three young forwards going to arbitration. They'll probably dodge that bullet with Kevin Hayes, who is likely to sign a bridge deal, and they might avoid it with J.T. Miller as well. But Chris Kreider, who is coming off a bridge deal, could be a problem. Even though he had a down year, he still scored 21 goals and 43 points in 79 games. He's someone who is a lock to score 20 moving forward while primed to break out into 35-40 goal territory. That potential isn't likely to impress an abitrator the way it should a GM, but Kreider may be willing to take his chances if he doesn't feel like he's making enough headway with GM Jeff Gorton.
St. Louis's Jaden Schwartz, Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn and Washington's Marcus Johansson also are eligible for arbitration, but none of those prominent young forwards are likely to pursue the option.