According to The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, Washington Capitals forward Chandler Stephenson and defenseman Christian Djoos, both restricted free agents, filed for salary arbitration before Friday at 5 PM ET, the deadline to file. The dates of each hearing have not been set yet but all of the cases will be heard by an arbitrator from Saturday, July 20 through Sunday, August 4 in Toronto.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) July 5, 2019
The team’s biggest restricted free agent, forward Jakub Vrana, was not eligible to file for arbitration since he just came off of his entry-level contract. Capitals’ General Manager Brian MacLellan said that the two sides will likely agree to a “shorter-term” contract because the salary cap for the upcoming season went down to $81.5 million from the initially projected $83 million. Vrana will likely make around $4 million for the next two seasons.
The other 30 NHL teams can now throw an offer sheet at Vrana but not at Djoos or Stephenson. However, it is rare and doubtful that Vrana will sign an offer sheet. If he were to sign one, the Capitals would no longer be able to trade his rights to another team or negotiate a new contract with his representation. The team would have seven days to either match the offer sheet or not and receive compensation instead.
The offer sheet can be used by all 31 general managers from around the league but it is very rare that a restricted free agent signs one. Before Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho signed a five-year, $42.27 million ($8.454 million AAV) offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, the last player to sign an offer sheet was center Ryan O’Reilly (then of the Colorado Avalanche) on March 1, 2013, when he signed a two-year contract worth $10 million ($5 million AAV) with the Calgary Flames. The Avalanche matched the offer sheet and the Hurricanes will do the same with Aho on Monday.
The last player who switched teams via an offer sheet was forward Dustin Penner in 2007 when the Anaheim Ducks did not match the Edmonton Oilers’ five-year, $21.25 million ($4.25 million AAV) offer sheet. The Ducks received first-, second-, and third-round picks in compensation. The full list of NHL players who have signed offer sheets can be found here.
A full list of compensation for the 2019-20 NHL season can be found below:
Offer sheet compensation has been set for 2019/20
$1,395,053 or below: None
$4,227,438-$6,341,152: 1st, 3rd
$6,341,153-$8,454,871: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
2 1sts , 2nd, 3rd
$10,568,590+: 4 1sts
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) May 3, 2019
Last year, 30 players filed for salary arbitration but only three of the cases had to be settled by an NHL arbitrator (New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba – then of the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci – then of the Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Brett Kulak – then of the Calgary Flames).
Notable players from other NHL teams to file for salary arbitration include: Trouba, St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, and Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett. The full list of restricted free agents who filed can be found here.
The respective teams and players now have until their scheduled arbitration date to agree on a contract and avoid the process. They can also resolve it during their hearing. Otherwise, the arbitrator will have two days to determine a verdict.
Once the verdict has been announced, the team can decide to either accept the ruling or walk away from it, which would make the player an unrestricted free agent.
The Capitals currently have $4,285,706 to fit Vrana, Djoos, and Stephenson in.
By Harrison Brown