Now that goaltender Braden Holtby and forward Marcus Johansson have filed for salary arbitration, here’s a quick look at how the process works. Keep in mind that in the past two years 38 cases were filed for NHL arbitration and all but three settled before going to a hearing.
Assignments: By 5 p.m. tonight teams and players will be issued arbitration dates beginning July 20 and ending Aug. 4 and assigned one of eight arbitrators from the National Academy of Arbitrators. Those dates will be determined by a series of coin flips.
Length: In the case of Holtby, 25, and Johansson, 24, the Capitals can decide on a one-year or two-year award, since both players have at least two years before being eligible for unrestricted free agency.
Procedure: At the hearing, each side has 90 minutes to present its case, followed by rebuttals from both sides. During the process, both sides can provide evidence to support their contract demands/offers, such as:
- The number of games played and a player's injury history
- “Overall performance” [This includes NHL official statistics, including hits and giveaways; however, metrics such as Corsi ratings, zone starts, etc. are not admissible]
- Length of service of the player to the club or in the NHL
- "The overall contribution of the Player to the competitive success or failure of his club in the preceding season"
- "Any special qualities of leadership or public appeal"
- The overall performance and compensation of comparable players
- "Testimonials, videotapes, newspaper columns, press game reports
or similar materials” [Like Caps coach Barry Trotz saying Holtby is part of the team’s DNA]
Binding decision: At the conclusion of the hearing he arbitrator must issue a decision to both parties within 48 hours, and it will include the term, salary, and a brief summary of the reasoning behind the decision.
Walk-aways: Although the decision of the arbitrator is binding, teams have the right to walk away from an award that exceeds $3.5 million.
Likely scenarios: Holtby and the Capitals reportedly have agreed to a term of at least five years but are apart on value, with the Caps believed to be offering around $5 million a season and Holtby’s agent, David Kaye, believed to be seeking in the $6 million range. With that in mind, the two sides could settle for a four- or five-year deal averaging in the $5.5 million range.
Johansson’s deal could be much shorter. He is believed to be seeking a contract in the $4 million range, while the Caps are believed to be closer to $3 million. That could result in a one- or two-year contract with an average salary in the $3.5 million range.
And then there is the case of restricted free agent Evgeny Kuznetsov, who does not have arbitration rights and could be seeking a deal in the $3.5 million range. The Capitals probably would prefer to sign Kuznetsov to a short-term “show-us” deal that allows Kuznetsov to prove himself as a second-line center before reaping the financial benefits.