On July 1st, the last day that Kaspars Daugavins was permitted to elect himself for salary arbitration, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch tweeted the following:
The Senators will walk away from Kaspars Daugavins if he gets a one-way at arb. He won't sign a 2-way deal. He will be UFA on walkway. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) July 6, 2012
As part of a follow up piece that I wrote that day on the subject matter, I elaborated on the arbitration process itself.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with the arbitration process, it’s pretty straightforward. Having filed, the Senators and the player are permitted to negotiate a new deal in the days leading up to the arbitration hearing – usually such hearings take place in late July or early August. If there is no contract in place by the time of the hearing, Daugavins and the Senators will propose a salary for the player and the organization must elect whether the arbitrator’s judgment will be for a one or two-year contract. Each side will then proceed to argue their case and present evidence to some third party arbitrator. Article 12.9 (g)(ii) of the NHL CBA lists what can be presented as evidence and unfortunately for Daugavins, the density of one's playoff mustache and the number of mustache rides given out do not qualify. At the conclusion of the hearing, the arbitrator must come to a decision within 48 hours.
When the arbitrator makes his decision, the Senators may have a few choices at their disposal. If the annual salary that Daugavins is awarded is greater than $1,042,173, the club can accept the contract or elect to ‘walk away’ from the contract – thereby making the player an unrestricted free agent. If the monetary salary is less than that aforementioned figure, the club has to accept the decision. (Note: This $1,042,173 monetary figure was the one that was outlined in the NHL CBA in 2005. Apparently, this figure is subject to an annual increase – starting at the beginning of the 2007/08 season -- that is commensurate to the same percentage rate of increase as the Average League Salary. )
According to Jonathan Willis, the walk-away point based off of the 2007/08 average salary of $1,906,793 was approximately $1.163M. Pulling numbers from a Yahoo! Sports article, Joe Dorish claims that the average NHL salary in 2011 was $2.4M. If accurate, we can assume that the walk-away point now is in the vicinity of $1.46M.
With there is no question that Daugavins’ next contract will not approach that monetary value, there does seem to be a lot of confusion surrounding Ottawa’s walk-away rights and the determination of whether the Dogman will get a one-way or two-way offer.
Put simply, Ottawa cannot walk-away from the arbitrator’s ruling should Daugavins’ salary fall below that walk-away threshold of approximately $1.46M.
Delving into the CBA a little bit deeper, Article 10.2 (a)(iii) contains some important information concerning qualifying offers for restricted free agents.
A Club’s Qualifying Offer must be a One-Way Qualifying Offer if the applicable Player has: (A) actually played (excluding games missed for injury, illness or disability) 180 or more NHL games in the previous three (3) NHL Seasons, (B) played at least sixty (60) NHL Games in the previous NHL Season, and (C) not cleared Waivers in the period between the 12th day prior to the commencement of the previous Regular Season and the end of the Club’s previous Playing Season.
Having played in 65 games last season, Daugavins’ qualifying offer would have to have been of the one-way variety. Given that and the fact that there hasn’t been any historical instance of a player receiving a two-way contract through arbitration in the post-lockout NHL, if Ottawa is as reportedly determined not to give Daugavins a one-way contract, why even qualify him in the first place?
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, unless bringing back Daugavins is a more realistic possibility than is being reported.
All three critereia must be met before a team must qualify a player on a one-way contract, in this case only two are met as Daugavins has not played 180+ games in the last three season. (s/t to Peter in the comments)
Hmm. Could the Sens not submit to the arbitrator that Dogman should receive a salary in slight excess of the walkaway threshold in an attempt to circumvent the process and ultimately walk away? It would create a very interesting scenario, where the team is proposing to pay more for the player than the player is requesting, and correspondingly, where the player is bargaining for a lower salary than the team is saying he's entitled.
@fmblair That's basically what Atlanta did with Clarke MacArthur.
"When it came time to meet with an arbitrator, the Thrashers simply asked for the award to be presented immediately, based on the player's demands, so they could then walk away from the contract.
That's how a third-line forward who had 35 points landed a $2.4-million (all currency U.S.) award, one the hockey world has been puzzling over ever since.
We said, you know what, maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if he gets this silly award," Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said. "We kind of encouraged it."
Given that the qualifying offer would only have to be a one-way deal if ALL THREE applicable criteria are met (evidenced by the 'and' preceding the third criterion), that means that Daugavins' qualifying offer could (and obviously was) a two-way deal.
Still, you're right that the Senators will, in all likelihood, not have the option of walking away from the arbitration. If they're convinced that they won't be accepting him on a one-way deal, their only option is to accept the arbitration award and immediately buy out the contract. I do recall this happening in the recent future with at least one NHL player, but I forget the name.
@silversevensens I'm confused. Why not just put Daugavins on waivers if they want to send him down. Why go through all this trouble to get rid of him?
@silversevensens Ya this is right. I had it mixed up when I was explaining it to Graeme.
You'd think there'd be an instance of a two-way contract awarded in arbitration but I have yet to find one.
The Tim Kennedy case you allude to was a one-way 1M$ contract, and he'd only played 79 games in the NHL. Daugavins is a shade under that at 66GP total, with about half the point production.