Twenty-three NHL restricted free agents filed for salary arbitration today, including four Rangers: Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer, the most of any team.
Hearings are scheduled to begin on July 20 and run through early August; none have been assigned yet. Last year, 27 of 31 cases were settled before hearings, as teams reached agreements with players.
For example, Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi filed last year, and signed a four-year, $13.3-million deal. Callahan filed in 2009 and signed a two-year deal worth $4.6 million. Teams can also walk away from an arbitrator’s award. Nikolai Zherdev was awarded $3.9 million in 2009, and the Rangers let the winger become a unrestricted free agent.
Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather said has said twice in recent weeks that discussions were underway and that the Rangers have cap room to negotiate. Restricted free agent center Artem Anisimov is not arbitration eligible and the Rangers are expected to sign him. The Rangers have at least $15 million remaining in cap space for 2011-12. Filing for arbitration also prevents rival teams from sending a player an offer sheet that the current club must match.
Callahan's salary was $2.4 million last season, Dubinsky's $2 million. Each will rise substantially, with or without arbitration. With Marian Gaborik injured, Dubinsky, 25, finished as the team's highest scorer with 54 points (24-30) in 77 games, and led all forwards in average ice time per game with 20:13. Callahan, 26, had 48 points, (23-25) but that was in just 60 games, and led the team with 10 PPG. He averaged 19:54 TOI.
An arbitrator uses previous stats and recent signings to determine what comparable players received. Ville Leino, 27, signed a six-year deal with Buffalo that averaged $4.5 million a season. He was 19-34-53 last year with the Flyers. Tomas Fleischmann, 26, had 31 points in 45 games last season and was given a four-year contract by Florida for $4.5 million per season. Drew Stafford, who scored 31 goals for the Sabres, received a contract averaging $4 million a season.
Boyle, 26, had a career year with 21 goals and 14 assists while averaging 15:44 in 82 games and was one of the league’s bargains at $550,000. Sauer, 24, proved to be a steady, tough, stay-at-home, second-pair defenseman (3-12-15) in 76 games. Hereceived $500,000 last season.
The team expects to formally announce today that Jeff Gorton will replace Cam Hope, who left the team after seven years in the front office, as an assistant general manager. Gorton, who was an assistant general manager of the Bruins for seven years, spent the last four years as assistant director of player personnel for the Rangers.