Arbitration is not a fun process, which is why so many players and teams try to avoid it. With Colorado re-signing center Ryan O’Reilly to a two-year deal on Wednesday with a cap hit of $6 million, the Avs managed to side-step what would have been another unpleasant experience with the talented pivot.
Hockey fans love trades. We love the adrenaline that comes with the news of a blockbuster, the potential for positive change, the photos of the inbound star in his new sweater. And we love picking them apart.
The problem is, it typically takes several years before we know who actually won a deal. Occasionally, there’s instant gratification, but more often the trades take twists and turns and beget further moves. They can take on myriad lives.
With that in mind, we bring you an installment of thn.com’s Trade Trail, a recurring feature in which we re-open a cold file from a deal that transpired five or more years ago.
This summer marks the 20-year anniversary of the blockbuster Wendel Clark trade from Toronto to Quebec for Mats Sundin and the sentiment at the time remains true today. The Maple Leafs won the deal.
But you be the judge. Here are the particulars from that June 28, 1994 deal.
Toronto trades 27-year-old Clark, along with 27-year-old defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre, 19-year-old prospect Landon Wilson and the 22nd overall pick in the 1994 draft to Quebec for 23-year-old Sundin, 31-year-old defenseman Garth Butcher, 20-year-old prospect Todd Warriner and the 10th overall pick in the draft.
Before looking at the big names in the deal, let’s clear up the ledger on the other components.
The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a season that gave their fans legitimate hope the team could return to its heyday as one of the NHL’s powerhouse franchises. But their bizarre treatment of center Ryan O’Reilly is casting a shadow over some of that success. Indeed, their ongoing dealings with O’Reilly are quickly becoming a textbook case of how to alienate young talent and ensure they depart at their first opportunity.
The details of the arbitration case between the Avs and O’Reilly – first reported Monday by THN’s Ken Campbell – are troubling: O’Reilly is asking for $6.75 million on a one-year contract, but the team is offering a $5.525 million salary. That’s right, the Avs’ leading goal-scorer last season (who set personal bests on offense with 28 goals and 64 points in 80 games) and one of the NHL’s more highly-regarded young two-way players is being asked to take a 15 percent pay cut (the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement) at a time when the salary cap continues to rise and when Colorado has already lost one of its other talented centers (Paul Stastny) for nothing.
Of course, in every arbitration case, the team comes in with a lower number than they’re likely willing to settle for, and the player does the same on the higher end. The Avalanche would argue O’Reilly’s last contract had an average annual value of $5 million per season, meaning their proposal would be a raise of sorts. But that’s spin. The reality is, when the Avs matched the offer sheet the 23-year-old signed (for two years and $10-million) with the Calgary Flames after the 2012-13 lockout ended, O’Reilly became a $6.5-million-per-season player for them in the final year of that deal. The Avalanche might not have liked it – and clearly, they don’t value O’Reilly’s skills the way Calgary did – but by retaining the asset, they had to know what it would mean to now ask O’Reilly to take a haircut down the line, especially when he’s come as advertised and continued to improve. Ostensibly, you’re telling him that, no matter what he did last season, or what he’ll continue to do for them in the years to come, they see him at a certain financial slot. Read more
The NHL’s salary arbitration hearings begin Monday, July 21 through Aug. 1 in Toronto. While 23 hearings were scheduled (20 player-elected, three club-elected), as of July 15 four players – Boston’s Matt Bartkowski, Dallas’ Cameron Gaunce, Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Ottawa’s Derek Grant – avoided arbitration by re-signing with their teams. Another, St. Louis’ Vladimir Sobotka, has jumped to the KHL.
Most NHL arbitration cases never reach an arbiter, as players often re-sign with their teams before the hearing takes place. It’s a process both sides prefer to avoid. It’s ego-bruising for the player as management makes its case over why he’s not worth the salary he seeks. Management subsequently risks losing that player to unrestricted free agency once his arbiter-awarded contract has expired.
In most cases, arbitration is used as a negotiation tactic by both sides. For the player and management, it establishes a deadline toward reaching a new contract without negotiations dragging on into training camp and pre-season. When a team takes a player to arbitration, it’s also to prevent him from receiving an offer sheet from a rival club, except for a five-day window from July 1-5.
We’re on Day 2 of our NHL logo rankings, which brings us to No. 29, the Colorado Avalanche.
There was some debate among the seven THN staffers involved on this one – much more than the Carolina Hurricanes, who were almost unanimously ranked last. For some, the Colorado colors and rocky mountain tie-in with snow and a puck running off the “A” is slick enough for this to be considered one of the top logos in the league. While others think it’s too cartoony for the big leagues. Those in the latter camp really miss the minimalist, old school Nordiques look.
Think you can do a better job with the Colorado Avalanche logo? Get creative and artistic and draw up a new one for the team – perhaps even using the brighter Quebec Nordiques colors – and send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. After we roll out all of our NHL logo rankings, we’ll show the best reader recreations.
(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)
HISTORY OF THE AVALANCHE LOGO
Just like the No. 30 team, Colorado is also a relocated franchise with WHA origins. And in fact, the origins of this team go a little further back than the Quebec Nordiques. Read more
If only the puck bounced this way or that way. If only Wade Dubielewicz hadn’t stood on his head in a random shootout performance on the last day of the season. Making or missing the playoffs often comes down to a few chance occurrences. It’s thus reasonable to forecast a few teams falling on the reverse side of the coin a year later. Toronto, Ottawa, Washington, Vancouver and the Islanders swapped spots with Philadelphia, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Colorado this past season.
Here are three 2014-15 candidates to slide from in the big dance to out – and three to slide from out to in.
So, you’re the Colorado Avalanche. You’ve just enjoyed a comeback season in which you won the regular season Central Division title and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. You maybe got a little lucky with all that success, since your goalie posted a career year and you were the worst possession team to qualify for the post-season, which is probably why you were upset in the first round.
But there’s a lot to like here. You have Varlamov, who probably won’t post the same type of numbers, but should still be good enough to get 60-plus starts and hold the fort. Nathan MacKinnon had an electric rookie season and looks to have all the skill required to live up to the hype. Matt Duchene is one of the most explosive and fun-to-watch players in the league and you can see the superstardom in his future every time he takes off down the ice. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is the leader of this young group and its second-highest goal scorer this past season. Tyson Barrie looks like a keeper on the back-end and Patrick Roy was an award-winning coach in his very first season behind the bench.
There’s enough feel-good material here to make any Avs fan optimistic that 2013-14 was only the beginning of better things to come.
But it’s not all rosy. The Avs lost center Paul Stastny, their best possession center, for nothing to the St. Louis Blues via free agency. They traded P-A Parenteau, who had the third-best Corsi relative among Avs forwards (albeit with favorable zone starts), to Montreal for the very underwhelming return of Daniel Briere. The defense still needs help and the aforementioned likely dip in numbers from Varlamov will exacerbate problems that stats like Corsi and Fenwick say the Avalanche have.
And then there’s Ryan O’Reilly. Read more
The NHL’s arbitration process is scheduled to begin later this month. Twenty NHL players have filed for arbitration, while three players were taken to arbitration by their teams. Usually, these contracts are settled before the team and player have to face off in front of an arbiter, so expect most, or all, of these to be settled before the process begins.
Arbitration cases will be heard between July 20 and August 5. Here are the eligible players:
Brandon McMillan - A third round pick by Anaheim in 2008, McMillan played 22 games with the Coyotes in 2013-14, scoring two goals and six points. He also played 46 games with the american League’s Portland Pirates, scoring 11 goals and 26 points. The 5-foot-11 winger was acquired by the Coyotes last year in a trade that sent Matt Lombardi to the Ducks.
Matt Bartkowski - A seventh round pick by Florida in 2008, Bartkowski averaged the fourth-most minutes among Bruins defensemen in 2013-14 and scored 18 assists. He was acquired by Boston in what turned out to be an awful trade for Florida, which sent Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg to the Bruins for not much at all. Bartkowski has emerged as a physical defensive blueliner who fits in nicely with Boston’s brawny way. Read more