One of the staples of the NHL off-season is the salary arbitration hearings. This season 20 players elected to exercise their right to arbitration. The arbitration process runs from Monday July 20 through Friday July 31.
Jiri Hudler has received the most publicity because of signing a contract with a KHL team but it will be Clarke MacArthur that has his hearing first. MacArthur is set to have his hearing in front of an arbitrator on Monday and will have an opportunity to state his case for a big contract. MacArthur had a career high 17 goals last season but is viewed as a one dimensional player by many.
#41 / Left Wing / Buffalo Sabres
Apr 06, 1985
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MacArthur had a decent season statistically and figured this might be a good opportunity to score a good payday. There are a couple of huge questions surrounding his hearing. How will the arbitrator rule on a player that has had only one decent season in the NHL? How much will the Sabres be willing to pay MacArthur before they would be forced to walk away? Will they be looking at the teams current finances when they make a decision of MacArthur or will they be banking on losing some salary to trades?
Many of these questions will be answered fairly quickly. The arbitrator is required to issue a result within 48 hours of the hearings conclusion and the team has to decide if they want to accept the offer or walk away within 48 hours of the hearing of their last player. MacArthur is the only Buffalo Sabres player that elected for arbitration and therefore we should know the Sabres decision by the end of the week.
I don't have an exact list of previous arbitration hearings that included the Buffalo Sabres but I remember that the best results came when the struck a deal before the case was heard. Nathan Paetsch and Derek Roy were two Sabres players that reached a contract before the hearing. J.P. Dumont and Daniel Briere were two players that failed to reach an agreement before they had their hearing. The Sabres accepted the $5 million award for Daniel Briere, only to see him leave town a year later and they were forced to walk away from the the J.P. Dumont award because of financial considerations.
There is still time to get something done but it is starting to get close. The Sabres should try to get a deal struck before the deadline because it doesn't seem they have much luck when the case is heard by the arbitrator.