There isn’t really an arbitration day. It’s just that today the arbitration hearings start between NHL teams and the RFAs they couldn’t come to terms with before now. The hearing between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Teddy Purcell has been cancelled. They came to terms before the hearing. Also on the agenda today: Lauri Korpikoski and Viktor Stalberg. Those have been cancelled too.
Surely, I was thinking, surely something will start to happen today. That today’s schedule has been wiped clean doesn’t preclude anything happening, it just bodes ill for anyone pining for signs of life in the NHL. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get some action. The NY Rangers and Brandon Dubinsky haven’t come to terms yet, so there’s hope.
Hope for what? As a Sharks fan, what could one hope for? I’m hoping Doug Wilson does very little from here on out. Anything splashy could run counter to the Rule of Five and I wouldn’t want that. So far, Wilson has made mostly very good and sensible decisions this summer. I would hate for him to go ruin that.
Fear the Fin did a bit on how arbitration hearings have created opportunities for Wilson in the past, and might do so again:
The opportunity here won’t always be the player who is filing for arbitration; teams forced into a corner by the arbitration ruling may have to trade current assets to stay under the cap. -Fear the Fin
Obviously, unless you do go after the player engaged in arbitration, you might have to give up something significant to get a player away from the cornered team. That could be inconvenient, especially since the Sharks can afford to keep their cake and add ice cream too. This season, the Sharks have plenty of cap space.
Last season the Sharks were the beneficiary of an unsatisfactory settlement between Niemi and the cap-strapped Blackhawks. At the time, it seemed to be a redundant pickup. Wilson had already signed a Finnish goalie, how many can you possibly need? In the end, it turned out well because Nitty spent so much time injured and Nemo did well for the team. None of that could have been predicted… well, yes it could. Nitty had an injury history, so finding Nemo was not redundant at all. It was just more money than anyone expected Wilson to pay, even for two goalies. Why pick up a goalie with an injury history if you aren’t certain it won’t be a problem, and then pay him too much?
While I don’t regret having Nemo on the team, those decisions lacked the appearance of decisiveness. Yes, the Sharks needed a new goalie, or more than one when they let Nabokov go. But the signings didn’t look as tidy as moving Heatley for Havlat, and Setoguchi for Burns. Wilson’s big moves this summer appear well planned, confident.
What’s out there anyway? Buffalo and Chicago were the only teams slated for arbitration that also had cap concerns. They’ve settled, though Buffalo’s spending binge resulted in settlements that still have them over a barrel. They are over the new cap by a couple million, and still have a short roster. The Rangers aren’t out of the woods. They may have cap space but they are still at 19 players.
So what? Is there any obvious target for the Sharks on these vulnerable rosters? To my math-challenged eye, not really. The Sharks don’t need a top end player, they are presumed to be looking for a solid third liner. Cap-strapped teams would want to move a bigger salary than that. So nothing jumps out at me, and no rumors are flooding the Twitter feed.
Then again, Doug Wilson is well-known for working under the rumor-mill radar. Anything could happen. I wonder if other Sharks fans, like me, really hope nothing does.