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Weekend FTB: Arbitration, iron hooks and stretchy cap space

What is Kyle doing? No idea.

NHL: MAY 26 Playoffs Round 2 Game 5 - Oilers at Flames
Calle Järnkrok being roughed up by a goon.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Maple Leafs added Calle Järnkrok on Friday, bringing some clarity to who will be on the Leafs roster this fall.

As of now, with 21 players made up of 12F, 7D and 2G, there is enough cap space for everyone you’d expect to be on the roster with a few people you might not expect cut to the AHL. However, that only works if Pierre Engvall and Rasmus Sandin just accept their qualifying offers. Engvall is arbitration eligible, and Sandin is not.

So it’s time to delve into the arbitration rules:

  • players have until 5 pm on Sunday to elect arbitration
  • one minute later a window opens for 24 hrs that allows the team to elect arbitration
  • the party who does not elect arbitration decides the length of the contract if it goes to a hearing — the choices are one or two years
  • hearings are in late July and August
  • any player subject to an arbitration hearing can be traded at any time except while the hearing itself is ongoing
  • any player subject to an arbitration hearing can sign a deal with the team except while the hearing itself is ongoing
  • players in their final year as an RFA can only get a one-year contract
  • teams may not walk away from team-elected arbitration
  • teams may walk away from player elected arbitration awards over $4.538958 million

Arbitration hearings begin with a team offer, which must be at least the player’s salary and bonuses in the second window for team elected arbitration, and a player ask. The arbitrator will chose a number between those two.

Traditionally, with very rare exceptions, the choice is right on the middle point.

If an RFA does not elect arbitration, if eligible, or sign a contract by Friday this week, the Qualifying Offer expires, and their ability to just accept it vanishes. They are left with the option of proceeding with arbitration, if it was elected, or negotiating a deal. They can also sign an offer sheet if one is negotiated with them. RFAs must sign by December 1 in order to play in the current season.

Only Pierre Engvall can go the arbitration route. Rasmus Sandin has to negotiate a deal or the Leafs can trade his signing rights, those are the only choices. The strategy for a player like Engvall to just take his QO is clear, it walks him to UFA status, and he can make whatever deal he wants. The Maple Leafs have no great incentive to sign him now for more than his QO — $1.25 million — unless they can buy UFA years with a term deal that is reasonably low in AAV.

For Rasmus Sandin, he’s in a different situation. He needs another year before he’s arbitration eligible, which does give him some incentive to just take the QO now, and see where he is next summer. But he’s likely going to want some security and term and a raise.


In other news, because this offseason is missing two weeks, we’re going to roar right into T25 time fairly soon. More on that this week, but we will need some official voters, so we’ll be putting a call out for that (It’s filling out some numbers on a spreadsheet, it’s not hard).

Back to the free agent front, it’s easy to see that things have ground to a halt. Where is Nazem Kadri going? Are the Canucks trading JT Miller? Will the Ducks ever reach the salary floor?

Leafs development camp begins on Sunday, so expect to see riveting descriptions of scrimmage games and videos of a lot of coaches on the ice.

So far the Leafs have signed some borderline, callup type players, but they have not signed any bona fide AHLers to NHL deals. They likely will get to that as the summer progresses.