20 Restricted Free Agents File for Arbitration

The official deadline isn’t for another 24 hours (5:00 EDT tomorrow) but the NHL Players Association has already released their list of players who have elected arbitration to settle the contract status with their current clubs.


Arbitration is a process used to settle contract disputes between a player the the team. It is one of the beneficial bargaining tools restricted free agents have at the negotiating table. Each player will have a hearing with their team and a neutral third-party, where the two sides will state their case for their salary and the third-party will decide their salary. Arbitration is only available to players who have four years of NHL experience before they are eligible for salary arbitration (the term is reduced for those who signed their first NHL contract after the age of 20).

Hearings are scheduled in Toronto between the dates of July 20 to August 4. And once the ruling (within 48 hours of the hearing) is made teams can either pay the player the awards salary or walk away, in which the player can hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

Teams and their restricted free agent can come to a deal before the hearing, which is fairly common. But while at the hearing only certain pieces of evidence can be admissible in front of the arbitrator.

What is allowed:

  • Overall performance (including statistics) from all previous seasons.
  • Number of games, injuries, and illnesses the player has had in their career.
  • How long the player has been in the NHL and years played with the team in arbitration.
  • Measurements and information relating to the overall success or failure to the team.
  • The effect the player has on the team in the locker room and off-ice (leadership qualities and public appeal).
  • Salaries and performance statistics of comparable players to the player in arbitration.

What isn’t allowed:

  • Salaries and performance statistics of comparable players who signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent.
  • Interviews, video, and reports from the media.
  • Team finances.
  • Salary cap and payroll information of the team.

The team can only take a player to arbitration once in his career (no matter how many teams he’s played with) but there is no limit to the number of times a player can take the team to arbitration.

The largest amount ever awarded in an arbitration case was $7.5 million awarded to Shea Weber in 2011. I don’t believe that number will be topped but don’t be surprised if Montreal’s  P.K. Subban comes really close to that amount if they don’t reach an agreement before arbitration.

The list of players who file for arbitration are as follows:

Arizona Coyotes

Brandon McMillan

Boston Bruins

Matt Bartkowski

Calgary Flames

Joe Colborne

Dallas Stars

Cameron Gaunce

Antoine Roussel

Florida Panthers

Jimmy Hayes

Los Angeles Kings

Dwight King

Minnesota Wild

Justin Fontaine

Montreal Canadiens

Lars Eller

P.K. Subban

Nashville Predators

Mattias Ekholm

New York Islanders

Kevin Poulin

New York Rangers

Derick Brassard

Chris Kreider

Mats Zuccarello

Ottawa Senators

Derek Grant

Pittsburgh Penguins

Nick Spaling

San Jose Sharks

Jason Demers

Toronto Maple Leafs

Cody Franson

James Reimer

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