As expected, the New York Islanders and Calvin de Haan agreed to a new contract before reaching an arbitration hearing that was scheduled today.
As feared, the contract is for only one year, a reported $3.3 million, rather than a longer term that would keep this important defenseman in the fold and avoid putting him in a position to depart via unrestricted free agency next summer or as a traded rental should things go south for the Isles next season.
It’s unclear which side dug its heels in hardest to avoid agreement on a long-term deal. If multi-year terms were discussed, obviously the Islanders never went high enough for de Haan’s side to sign on. It’s also possible de Haan’s side, playing from a position of strength, was simply confident it can get an even better deal via UFA, no matter the team. It does not look like the sides ever got close, given they settled at the last minute.
The Islanders’ proposal submitted for arbitration was almost shockingly low, a reported $1.95 million — essentially a slight pay cut from his expiring deal. (Though that’s arbitration jockeying for you...both sides knew an arbitration award would be higher/lower than their proposal. The offer is not quite the “insult” some are making it out to be.) Still, the Islanders under Garth Snow tend to try to get players in de Haan’s situation signed on multi-year deals, so it’s noteworthy none was reached in this case.
Meanwhile, de Haan is coming off a career year during a summer when the NHL saw several unrestricted free agent defensemen of his caliber get long-term, high-dollar contracts on the open market. They may not have wanted to pay him $5 million for his final restricted year, but he’s all but certain to command that much on his next contract, which will start with his first unrestricted season and go three to five seasons, based on this summer’s signings.
So while this new one-year deal avoids arbitration and is nearly $2 million less than the reported $5 million de Haan’s side submitted in arbitration, it positions him to cash in big next summer, if not beforehand if the two sides suddenly found common ground on a contract extension to stay with the Isles.
The team approach almost comes through in the quote from Snow in the official announcement:
"Calvin is a home-grown product of the organization and has developed into one of our top defenseman during his time with the organization," Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said. "He plays important minutes for our club and we're excited to have him back for one more year."
It’s a business, they say.