A pair of Montreal Canadiens restriced free agents have elected to take the team to salary arbitration this summer. Both P.K. Subban and Lars Eller filed before yesterday’s deadline to take the Habs to an arbitrator to hear their case on what they should earn on a new deal.
The hearings have not been scheduled yet, but would take place sometime between July 20th and August 4th. The pair of Canadiens skaters are two of 20 players around the National Hockey League to announce their intention of going to an arbitration hearing.
Both Habs players are now ineligible to receive the dreaded offer sheets from other teams around the league, but can still negotiate with the Canadiens on a contract extension. Most of the time, when a player files for arbitration, they agree to a deal before the hearing, rendering it unnecessary.
Subban is coming off a season where he led al Habs defensemen with 53 points in 81 games, and led the team in playoff scoring with 14 points in 17 playoff contests. Eller had a very regular, regular season, scoring just 26 points in 77 games, but finished second in playoff scoring for the team, behind Subban, with 13 points in 17 games.
The difficulty in negotiating a new contract with Eller is, are you getting the guy who couldn’t buy a point for long stretches of the regular season, or the physical, dominating center who showed up in the playoffs?
If either negotiation makes it to arbitration, the player will get either a one or two year settlement, and the team then has 48 hours to either accept the terms, or walk away from the player, making them an unrestricted free agent.
My guess is both players sign new contracts before the hearings, and will both earn hefty raises on their salary from this season. Subban cost just 2.875 million against the cap this season, while Eller’s cap hit was a very reasonable 1.325 million for the past two seasons.
At least we know both players will have some sort of a contract by early August, and neither will be holding out when training camp approaches in September.