The arbitration hearing between the Boston Bruins and their restricted free-agent (RFA) Blake Wheeler was held this morning in Toronto, Canada, after the two sides failed come to a mutual contract agreement. A player can only go to arbitration once in his NHL career, so this will be the first and last time Wheeler can use this bargaining tool to settle any future contract disputes.
“[the hearing] Went well – not contentious at all.” Wheeler’s agent Matt Keator told TheHubofHockey.net this afternoon. “Professionally done on both sides”
Wheeler, who posted 18-20-38 totals in all 82 games this season, earned $875,000 as a base salary last season, with an added $2.05M in bonuses. Now we sit back and wait — until the arbitrator sets the one-year salary for the 23-year-old Wheeler — for the next two days (a decision must be made within 48 hours of the hearing). With the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), a player may never receive less than 85 percent of his previous year’s salary.Matt Kalman is having a popular Price-is-Right-type comment section at TheBruinsBlog.net– head over there and cast your guess.
In a nutshell, the Bruins can do one of two things:
- Accept the arbitrators announced salary.
- Decline/walk-away from the proposed deal — and Wheeler can declare himself as an Unrestricted Free-Agent (UFA).
The general consensus over at TheBruinsBlog is between $1.9M – $2.7M. The Bruins have less than $600,00 of cap-space remaining (not including Marco Sturm’s LTIR status to start the year and his $3.5M salary), so if they are thinking of holding on to Wheeler for at least one more season — plus $900,000 of room needed to ink Tyler Seguin — then someone’s gotta go. But after No. 26’s sophomore slump of last season, I don’t think many Black-and-Gold fanatics would lose much sleep if the Bruins’ brass decided to walk-away from this one.