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Atlanta Walks Away From Clarke MacArthur

Salary arbitration hearings began on Tuesday.  Here is the arbitration schedule.  Notice that most cases have been settled before the actual hearing.  So far only two cases have been heard.  On Tuesday, Jannik Hansen of the Vancouver Canucks had his case heard and yesterday Clarke MacArthur of the Atlanta Thrashers had his case heard.  Usually there is a 48 hour delay after a case before the result is announced.  The Hansen case has yet to be resolved.  However, the MacArthur case was heard quickly and we have a result.

Clarke MacArthur was awarded a $2.4 million contract, but Atlanta walked away from the deal instead of accepting it.  This was rumored before the arbitration hearing occurred.

Atlanta acquired significant depth at forward in their trades with the Chicago Blackhawks.  They brought in Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Eager in two trades with the Hawks.  This made MacArthur an unnecessary part.  Given a $2.4 million salary, he was expensive for somebody deemed unnecessary.  I think the reason for the fast turnaround on the arbitration hearing is that Atlanta did not contest anything MacArthur said.  They basically said they would walk away regardless of the outcome.

Clarke MacArthur was acquired by Atlanta from Buffalo in a trade deadline deal for a third and fourth round pick in 2010 (Buffalo chose Jerome Gauthier-Leduc and Stephen Shipley respectively with the picks).  MacArthur had a 35 point season split between the Sabres and Thrashers last year.  This is the best season to date in his young career.  He is 25 years old and has played three seasons fully in the NHL and two more prior two them, with time split between the AHL and NHL.  His Buffalo time was enough that he made the worst 20 adjusted +/- list this season.  MacArthur was often overmatched in his role on the depth lines in Buffalo and Atlanta, but he plays well enough that he can score at a respectable level given his ice time.

The Atlanta Thrashers are currently below the NHL salary floor of $43.4 million, with a total payroll of just over $37 million with sixteen players signed.  They only have eight NHL proven forwards signed with four as more restricted free agents (two more going to arbitration).  Likely they need another NHL proven forward or two for depth and can sign them as bargains from the free agent leftovers.

MacArthur is now an unrestricted free agent and he is a free agent leftover.  The biggest free agent contracts are usually signed near the beginning of the free agency period.  With the exception of Ilya Kovalchuk, I doubt we will see any more significant contracts given out this summer.  MacArthur will likely be picked up by some NHL team, but he will not get a salary anywhere near the $2.4 million that Atlanta walked away from.

Is letting Clarke MacArthur walk a good move for Atlanta?  Maybe if they can fill his roster spot with a better, cheaper free agent (will they?).  If they have no plans to fill it and this is a cost cutting move for a near salary floor team, it shows how tight money is in Atlanta.  Atlanta cannot afford to have extra role players around and that is a handcuff that makes their success harder to achieve.

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Clarke MacArthur’s is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it ...
Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again ... oh no

Sorry, and yes, it is unadulterated tripe but I couldn’t resist

Posted by Matty55 on 07/22/10 at 02:11 PM ET

Moq's avatar

The Atlanta Thrashers are currently below the NHL salary floor of $40.8 million, ...

That’s the old floor, the new salary floor is $43.4M.

Atlanta shouldn’t have any difficulty reaching the floor with 6-7 open roster spots, and players like Bergfors, Ladd, and Eager still unsigned. Walking away from MacArthur seems like a sensible move at that price.

I curious to see what Hansen and Regin gets in arbitration.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 07/22/10 at 02:37 PM ET

Alan's avatar

MacArthur just isn’t worth the $2.4m price tag that was awarded to him. Atlanta has a history of overpaying for mediocre talent. Dudley is trying to shed this perception.

Atlanta should have no problem meeting and exceeding the salary cap floor, once the free agents are handled..

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 07/22/10 at 03:21 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

$2.4 million is probably an overpayment for Macarthur.  Two draft picks for 21 games of MacArthur before you let him leave via free agency is also an overpayment for him.  If Atlanta has no risk of getting anywhere near the salary cap, an overpayment to keep him might make sense, unless there is an internal budget that is stretched very tightly to get the team over the salary floor.

What is shocking is how quickly Atlanta was willing to give up on a guy who got them 9 points in 21 games (which isn`t too bad).  They had decided to let him go before his arbitration hearing.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/22/10 at 03:29 PM ET

linguodead's avatar

Yeah, why didn’t they know that he’d score 4 goals to start the season?!?  They really hould have consulted the team psychic before giving him up.  Or if they did, maybe the psychic focused on the wrong guy (Tanguay?) instead. 

All kidding aside, the award was for 2.4 million smackers.  Not chump change for Atlanta.  And easy to see how they came to the conclusion why they couldn’t do it.

Posted by linguodead on 10/16/10 at 01:26 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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