We are starting to see free agents sign in droves and arbitration hearings get canceled. July 20 marked the first official day that arbitration hearings were set to take place.
The only thing missing from this opening day were the players looking to step in front of an arbitrator and be judged on their worth. Guys like Teddy Purcell, Andrew Cogliano and Viktor Stalberg were signed prior and now we wait until July 21, for the first hearing for an unsigned player, Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky.
There are plenty more players looking to see how much they are worth. Some are worth thousands and some are worth millions.
Here are five players who we are looking forward to hearing about in the coming weeks.
Note: Out of the eight (if you count out Chicago walking away from Chris Campoli, giving Campoli UFA status) hearings that are left on the docket, five are from players in the Atlantic Division, with four being highlighted in this very slideshow. I beat you to the punch in pointing out the obvious so lets move on and talk some hockey!
All numbers and stats in this slideshow are provided by CapGeek.com
Arbitration Hearing: July 21, 2011
2010-11 Stats: 77 GP, 24 G, 30 A, 54 PTS
Under his last contract, Brandon Dubinsky emerged as a top forward for a Rangers squad that squeaked into the playoffs.
When it comes to arbitration, Dubinsky has achieved career highs in points for the last three seasons and is a talented 20-plus goal scorer. A great price to pay for a guy who was only a $1.85 million cap hit in his last two seasons.
The addition of Brad Richards will drop Callahan to a second line center position—that is, if the price is right.
Dubinsky has achieved career highs, but he is just barely passing them. His 24 goals last season was an improvement of his 20 goals he put up in 2009-10. That 20 goal season saw Dubinsky play 69 games. He played 77 last season.
He made $2 million last season and a slight raise could be in order; possibly to the tune of a $2.25 million cap hit on a team poised for another playoff spot in 2011-12.
Speaking of the Rangers...
Arbitration Hearing: July 28, 2011
2010-11 Stats: 60 GP, 23 G, 25 A, 48 PTS
Ryan Callahan is a great second line player for the Rangers. His point production is a good compliment to the top right winger for the team, Marian Gaborik
Of course, when that superstar falters, it is up to a guy like Callahan to step up his game. Comparing the stats, Callahan had more goals and had the same amount of points as Gaborik.
He is an important piece to the puzzle and will be counted on to help out when needed.
The former Olympian earned $2.4 million last season and was a $2.3 million cap hit. Looking ahead to 2011-12, Callahan could be up for a raise, just like Dubinsky.
Similarly, the raise shouldn't be much. The tune of a $2.5 million cap hit sounds reasonable for a player who is consistent on a seasonal basis.
Arbitration Date: August 4, 2011
2010-11 Stats: 77 GP, 24 G, 22 A, 46 PTS
Blake Comeau is up for a rich arbitration. He is a 20-goal scorer who only earned $800,000 last season and is part of an Islanders squad that seems to be taking forever to rebuild.
It isn't a stretch to say that Comeau is worth as much as the two Ranger players I highlighted before, but considering that 2010-11 was only Comeau's second full season in the NHL, some would say that last season's production was because Kyle Okposo spent most of last season in the IR.
Comeau had success in 2009-10, netting 17 goals and 18 helpers but for arbitration purposes, he won't get over $2 million at this hearing. In a couple years, he could be worth more but $1.5 million sounds okay.
If Comeau can score 25 goals in 2011-12, the $2 million range sounds right but for now, he will be a second line player, just waiting for his shot at the top line if Okposo goes down or falters.
Arbitration Date: August 3, 2011
2010-11 Stats: 13 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS
It was not the best season to be injured for Zach Parise. When entering his contract year, Parise solidified himself as a skilled 40-goal man in the NHL.
His last contract was back loaded and so his cap hit was a mere $3.125 million. After earning $5 million for a rehabilitation season, nobody knows what is in store for the American when he stands in front of the arbitrator.
A 40-goal man tends to be worth over $6 million but that leaves two questions. The first is whether or not Parise's injury riddled season will play a factor when a number is being decided upon. The second is whether a high price tag will be too much to bare for the team that drafted him 17th overall in 2003.
The Devils already have three players under contracts that take a $5 million cap hit or greater (Ilya Kovalchiuk, Patrick Elias and Brian Rolston). And with cap space of just under $6 million to work with, the Devils will need to move some salary if they want to make room for Parise and have some breathing space to make more moves and retool a team that had great success in the second half of the season but finished 11th in the Eastern Conference in 2010-11.
A $5.5 million cap hit could be right for the situation, but is it too much for Devils GM Lou Lamoriello?
Arbitration Date: August 2, 2011
2010-11 Stats: 82 GP, 16 G, 32 A, 48 PTS
This has to be one of the more anticipated hearings in recent memory. Shea Weber, the captain of the Preds, earned $4.5 million in his last three seasons and he earned every penny. In that span, he only missed five regular season games and led a Predators squad to the playoffs in the last two seasons.
His totals are a little bit underwhelming for a guy who has a cannon from the point but he played a big role in Nashville's special teams. He scored six times and had 11 helpers on the PP and even had a shorthanded marker during the season.
This will be an interesting hearing to be at as Weber could earn an upwards of $6 million next season.
What will these players earn in 2011-12? What do you think?