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The Simple Threat Of Arbitration Gets The Job Done – No Hearings Required!


Both Toronto’s Mark Fraser and the Rangers’ Mats Zucarello agreed to contracts today, meaning that every one of the 21 players who filed for arbitration ended up agreeing to a contract before the hearing took place.

As I wrote earlier, arbitration is an ugly process, but it needs to be there to move along a certain set of salary negotiations.

It is likely that no player got what they wanted, and every team paid more than what they wished, but that means the process works.  Putting your future in the hands of an arbitrator who simply looks at statistics without knowing much about the game is a risky process that neither side really wants to undertake.

Fraser, for instance was asking for $2M per season, which is a high figure for a 6th or 7th defenseman.  But depending on how they framed the statistical comparables, it was a number that was not out of the realm of possibility, given his +/- stat and his ranking for fighting majors. A $2M award would have been crippling for the Leafs and their already stretched salary cap, and Fraser ended up settling for more than double his salary and his first career one-way contract.

Dec 13, 2011; Winnipeg, MB, CANADA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman

Zach Bogosian

(4) scores and celebrates with Bryan Little (18) and

Blake Wheeler

(26) during the second period at MTS Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Big winners from the threat of arbitration were Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian of the Jets (combined for $89M over 6, 5 and 7 years respectively), as well as Sam Gagner of the Oilers.

Either way, the arbitrators can now have the next couple of weeks off.   Their services will no longer be required.