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Arbitration hearings set for Isles, Rangers restricted free agents

Brady Skjei #76 of the Rangers moves the

Brady Skjei #76 of the Rangers moves the puck past Brock Nelson #29 of the Islanders during the third period at Madison Square Garden on April 7, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

The NHL arbitration hearings are set. But it’s likely that deals will get worked out before the Rangers and Islanders face off against their restricted free agents.

The NHL Players Association on Thursday released a list of 39 salary arbitration hearings set between July 20 and Aug. 4.

The Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey (July 30), Brady Skjei (July 31) and Kevin Hayes (Aug. 2) are on the docket. The Islanders’ Brock Nelson is scheduled for Aug. 3.

The sides can continue talking until the hearing and, typically, a middle ground is found before an arbitrator rules on either a one- or two-year deal. For example, the Jets on Thursday avoided arbitration with Connor Hellebuyck by agreeing to a six-year, $37-million deal with their No. 1 goalie.

Nelson, a 26-year-old center coming off a three-year, $7.5-million deal, received a $3.5-million qualifying offer from the Islanders.

For the Rangers, Hayes, also a 26-year-old center coming off a two-year, $5.2-million deal, received a $2.6-million qualifying offer. Skjei, a 24-year-old defenseman coming off a three-year, $2.78-million deal, and Vesey, a 25-year-old left wing coming off a two-year, $7.55-million deal, both received qualifying offers of $874,125.

The last arbitration hearings for both teams came in 2007, the Islanders with Trent Hunter and the Rangers with Sean Avery and Nikolay Zherdev.

Rangers re-sign McLeod. With all the big names in free agency long gone, the Rangers on Thursday re-signed veteran forward Cody McLeod to a one-year contract.

McLeod, 34, played 25 games for the Rangers last season after being claimed off waivers from the Nashville Predators in January. He was credited with 76 hits, including a game-high eight in his first game with the team Feb. 1. His 3.0 hits per game led the Rangers.

The Rangers signed the 6-2, 210-pound McLeod to add some toughness to their lineup. They reportedly had interest in signing Vegas forward Ryan Reaves before the free-agent signing period opened July 1, but he re-signed with the Golden Knights. In 48 combined games for the Rangers and Nashville, McLeod had one goal, three assists and 111 penalty minutes, sixth most in the league. His 13 major penalties were tied for second in the league.— COLIN STEPHENSON


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