Braden Holtby Files for Salary Arbitration
Sunday was the deadline for players to file for salary arbitration in the NHL, and among the 23 players who filed was Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. Getting Holtby signed has been one of the biggest concerns for the Capitals this offseason.
Holtby, 25, had been making $1.85 million AAV on his previous contract and received a qualifying offer from the Capitsls. At the CBA-required 10 percent raise, that would have been an offer of $2.035 million, less than Jake Allen’s new deal.
The two sides have maintained that contract negotiations are ongoing and this development is unlikely to put an end to those. Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports that current offers are in the neighborhood of $5 million and up to five years.
In the vast majority of cases, players and teams reach deals before an arbitration hearing actually occurs. Filing is often used as a way to set a hard deadline for the parties to reach a deal.
Should this case be different and the hearing take place, the player and the team will each present evidence to determine what the true fair value for the player is. This includes statistical and other evidence that show the player’s value to the team as well as the deals signed by “comparable players.”
Those comparables must be negotiated contracts signed by restricted free agents, theoretically those who play similar roles for their teams. There are very few such players for Holtby in the NHL. There are few 25-year old starting goaltenders in the league, much less those who post numbers similar to Holtby.
The closest recent comparable is Sergei Bobrovsky, who signed a two-year deal in 2013-14 with a $5.625 million AAV, and it would not be surprising to see a deal come in around $5.7 to $6 million for Holtby.
Should the parties come to an agreement outside the arbitration room, the deal can be up to eight years long. Arbitration is restricted to a one- or two-year deal. Because Holtby filed, the team selects the term, which is likely to be one year, as a two year deal would usher Holtby into his UFA years, which tend to be much more expensive.
Arbitration hearings will be scheduled between July 20 and August 4.