Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 07/06/09 at 01:57 AM ET
On Sunday, the NHLPA announced a list of 20 NHL players who have filed for an arbitration hearing with their respective clubs. Tuomo Ruutu, a RFA, is the only Hurricanes player on that list. The date of Ruutu’s hearing isn’t known yet, but the hearings begin on July 20 and will conclude on August 4.
Last summer, Chad LaRose filed for arbitration, but he and the Hurricanes came to an agreement just a couple of days after filing and a couple of weeks before his scheduled hearing. The last time the Hurricanes actually had an arbitration hearing was when Jeff O’Neill was awarded $1.5M ... cue Conan O’Brien ... in the year 2000.
The Hurricanes have offered a perfunctory qualifying sheet, which was presumably $2.25M. This is what they must offer according to the CBA. Although they have most likely offered him more than that in negotiations, they have obviously been unable to reach an agreement. Yet. More often than not, these things don’t even make it to the hearing. I certainly hope this one doesn’t.
Ruutu had his best NHL season in 2008-09, potting 26 goals and adding 28 assists. He also led the team and was tenth in the entire league with 228 hits in the regular season. He scored 10 PP goals and four game winners including one in overtime. Based on these things, he’s worthy of a raise that would put him around $3M. Unfortunately (and this must have played a huge role in whatever Carolina’s contract offers have been), he pulled a Cole-esque disappearing act in the playoffs. In 16 postseason games, he scored just four (1/3) points and only managed to shoot on goal 17 times. Not exactly what we were hoping for.
Jussi Jokinen was signed just before the free agency period began. This means that the Hurricanes weren’t required to tender him a qualifying offer and it allowed them to negotiate a contract that was actually less than Jokinen’s contract from 2008-09. We all hoped that the Ruutu negotiations would have been that quick and that pleasant, but this is a business after all.
Sometimes these arbitration hearings get a little goofy. Sometimes they get a little nasty. Sometimes the player becomes an unhappy camper at the end of it all. Sometimes, the team walks away from the arbitration hearing.
What I’ll predict is that arbitration is avoided and the two sides agree to a two-year deal worth a total of $6.5M. This is only a guess. Last year, the LaRose situation was resolved by mid-week right after the papers were filed. I’m guessing this one will go down the same way.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.