The Toronto Maple Leafs had two of their restricted free agents file for salary arbitration with the NHL on Saturday. Goaltender James Reimer and defenseman Cody Franson were among a total number of 20 players that filed in time, the biggest being P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens.
With arbitration hearings taking place in the next month or so, let’s hope Reimer and Franson’s hearings are among the first to take place because what they receive in arbitration could impact what else the Leafs can do. With the Leafs also needing to sign fellow RFAs such as Jake Gardiner and Peter Holland, hopefully the Leafs win the arbitration case.
Franson has a pretty strong case for a raise. He might not have had the best season defensively, but astoundingly, he had the most points for a Leafs defenseman last season. That will almost assuredly get him a raise over the $2 million he made last season.
Reimer’s case is not as strong if you look at last season. However, if you take into account the 2012-13 season, his case suddenly becomes a lot stronger. Having a $1.8 million cap hit for the past three seasons, Reimer is in line for at least a slight raise.
So, what happens if the Leafs don’t like the rulings given out? Well, they could always just refuse the contract, just as the Atlanta Thrashers did with Clarke MacArthur a few years ago. However, I don’t think that is verylikely.
Both Reimer and Franson have been surrounded by trade rumors since the season ended. Reimer has even gone as far as asking for a trade. If the Leafs can’t come to an agreement with these two players between now and their arbitration hearings, they might just cut their losses and trade them.
Franson would bring a better return than Reimer would, but in the rush of trying to get rid of contracts, prospects are what I think the Leafs would be getting in return. That wouldn’t be so bad as it would give the Leafs some more cap room to get Gardiner and Holland signed and perhaps go after another unrestricted free agent. I do expect the Leafs to go into the 2014-15 season with some maneuverability when it comes to the cap however.