New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan is believed to be one of numerous restricted free agents around the NHL to file for salary arbitration by today’s 5 p.m. deadline.
Believe Calvin de Haan has filed for salary arbitration. Sides can continue talking contract of course.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) July 5, 2017
Not all restricted free agents can file for salary arbitration. Those that do (i.e. if initiated by the player) create a few certainties for their club:
- The player can not be signed to an offer sheet by a rival club. (This is exceedingly rare, but offer sheets do occasionally happen.)
- The player will not be a training camp holdout, because...
- ...Their new contract will be finalized either by (in rare cases) an arbitrator or (far more often) through negotiations that take place leading up to their hearing, which this year are set to take place between July 20 and Aug. 4.
- Their team will have a second “buyout window” during which they can buy out up to three player contracts. This begins on the third day after the team’s final arbitration case is settled or awarded, and lasts for 48 hours.
However, there are some limitations on this second buyout window, known as an “Ordinary Course Buy-Out Outside the Regular Period.” Namely, the buyout candidate has to have been on the roster at that season’s trade deadline, and their contract’s cap hit/Average Annual Value has to be a minimum established in the 2013 CBA of $2.75 million -- but that minimum increases each year along with the league’s average annual salary.
We don’t have that exact figure for 2017, but basically the Islanders’ only realistic buyout candidate at this point would be Nikolai Kulemin.
Would the Islanders buy out Kulemin’s final year, which carries a $4.187 million cap hit but a $5.25 million actual salary, according to Cap Friendly?
Not likely, unless they have identified a trade target that would increase their cap stress by that degree. According to Cap Friendly’s buyout calculator, a Kulemin buyout this summer would save them $1.75 million in actual cash savings (spread over two years) and $3.5 million on the 2017-18 cap. (Note that there is still a cap hit, one that would increase to $1.75 million in 2018-19.)
So the theoretical scenario works like this:
1) Islanders and de Haan either agree to a contract or have an arbitrator award one.
2) That new contract and cap hit more clearly outlines their expected roster cap charge for 2017-18.
3) They can do a buyout to adjust accordingly (again, only within a 48-hour period three days after their final arbitration case).
4) They could acquire an expensive asset via trade and then buy out a player (e.g. Kulemin) to fit that asset in.
Again, this isn’t likely. But it’s a scenario you should know from the CBA.
Arbitration Filings around the League
Other notable arbitration filings reported today include Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens, Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues, Ryan Spooner of the Bruins (who is already the subject of trade rumors), Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild, Robin Lehner of the Buffalo Sabres, Jean-Gabriel Pageau of the Ottawa Senators and Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers, though he has already agreed to a three-year extension that prevents a hearing.
The NHLPA posted a full list here. (Well, now they’re site had an INTERNAL SERVER ERROR perhaps due to everyone checking the list at once. So if that doesn’t work try the tweets that begin here instead.)