With the 48-hour clock ticking on an arbitrator’s ruling of Braden Holtby vs. the Washington Capitals, it is worth noting that one way or another Holtby’s award will have a rippling effect on the nine other arbitration cases still pending. (Thirteen of the 23 filed on July 5 have settled before going to s hearing).
“No matter the player, each one of these will have an affect on another player,” player agent Lewis Gross said, referring to any of the other eight remaining cases that may go to arbitration. “Any agent is going to watch pretty much all the rulings and see how the arbitrators came to their conclusions, because that’s going to be a basis of potential cases that you might do the next year.”
That said, if Holtby and the Capitals do not come to a long-term agreement before the arbitrator’s ruling, which must be rendered by 1 p.m. on Saturday – 48 hours after Thursday’s hearing concluded – the one-year award for Holtby will set a precedent since it will be the first of this summer and just the third in four years.
There is very little recent history of NHL arbitration rulings simply because so many cases settled before going to a hearing.
In the past two years, 43 of the 44 cases that filed for arbitration were settled before a ruling. Here’s a quick summary:
Twenty-three cases were filed for arbitration, but only two went to a hearing. Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who made $3.75 million in 2013-14, went to arbitration but struck an eight-year, $72 million agreement with the Canadiens before a ruling was made.
St. Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka went to arbitration and was awarded $2.725 million from an arbitrator, up from his $1.4 million salary the year before. But he walked away from the deal, signing a three-year contract in the KHL.
Twenty-one cases were filed. All settled before going to arbitration.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kyle Cumiskey was the only NHL player who went to arbitration. He was awarded a two-year, two-way contract worth $744,000 if he played in the NHL, but he walked away from it, signing with Modo of the Swedish Elite League.
Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber asked an arbitrator for $8.5 million. The Predators countered with $4.75 million. An arbitrator awarded him a one-year, $7.5 million contract.
So what can Holtby and the Capitals expect in their case? In all likelihood the arbitrator will come very close to splitting the difference between Holtby’s $8 million asking price and the Capitals’ $5.1 million offer. That would be $6.55 million, making Holtby the ninth highest-paid goalie in the NHL next season, behind:
Henrik Lundqvist ($10 million)
Sergei Bobrovsky ($8.5 million)
Tuukka Rask ($7.5 million)
Pekka Rinne ($7 million)
Carey Price ($7 million)
Jonathan Quick ($7 million)
Cam Ward ($6.8 million)
Roberto Luongo ($6.714 million)
A $6.55 million award will also leave the Caps with just $3.8 million in salary cap space, and with Marcus Johansson likely to be awarded at least $4 million in arbitration, the Caps would be pushed over the salary cap. NHL teams can be over the cap until Oct. 6, the day before the regular season opener, when final roster must be submitted to the league.