Three things to know about Mark Fraser's arbitration hearing

Cam Charron
July 29 2013 10:19AM

So this is what we've learned in the last two days. Nick Kypreos and Darren Dreger both suggest that Mark Fraser wants $2-million when he goes to arbitration tomorrow:

Just an off-shoot of the Franson post from earlier, this Fraser arbitration is key to the Leafs offseason. Anything at $900k and under is a win because the Leafs can send him to the minors and it won't count against the cap.

Three rules that people need to be aware of:

  1. Per Article 12.10 (a) in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Maple Leafs can NOT walk away from an arbitrator ruling of BELOW $3.5-million.
  2. Per Article 50.5 (d) (i) (B) (6)  in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you subtract $925K from ANY contract that goes to the minors. (Thanks to David in the comments for fixing my mistake. The total amount is the minimum salary for the season plus $375K)
  3. The team can STILL negotiate with Mark Fraser up until 9:00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow.

Anything up towards the midpoint of $1,427,500 which is the middle ground between the Leafs and Fraser is far from ideal. The Leafs need to win this thing pretty bad so they have the option of sending Fraser down.

Here's my suggestion: since the team can only elect a one-year arbitration that would send Fraser to UFA where he'd be unlikely to get a long-term deal, offer him a backloaded deal with an adjusted average value of $900K that is of any length Fraser chooses. Point out that Fraser is unlikely to have a season like last year and will probably be a healthy scratch for most of this upcoming season now that Jake Gardiner is up with the big club. On the left side, the team has Gunnarsson, Gardiner, and potentially Paul Rangers and John-Michael Liles ahead of him on the depth chart.

Basically, the Leafs would be offering him long-term financial stability to keep the cap low. The Leafs have far more dollars than any other team and would be best using them. The Jonathan Bernier deal came in at about $150K above our projection and the Carl Gunnarsson deal came in at about $350K above our projection, so I'm not too confident in the Leafs' ability to keep their remaining RFAs signed for low.

Settling this now for a low cap hit and offering financial stability is one way out. It's not ideal, but it beats having a cap hit of $1.2-million or more that could prevent the Leafs from getting Cody and Kadri under contract.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 David Johnson
July 29 2013, 10:28AM
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I believe it is actually $925K you can subtract from a contract in the minors as the league minimum salary is $550K for 2013-14 as per 11.12 (a).

The other option is a Liles buy out. Cap hit for that is:

2013-14: $875,000 2014-15: $875,000 2015-16: $2,375,000 2016-17: $1,250,000 2017-18: $1,250,000 2018-19: $1,250,000

The big problem is 2015-16 but if cap rises significantly might not be a big deal.

That leafs Phaneuf, Gunnarsson, Franson, Gardiner, Ranger, Fraser as the top 6 with possibly Rielly in the mix too (at least for 9 games before decision to be made). Blacker, Holzer, Brennan in reserve.

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#3 leafer4life
July 29 2013, 11:02AM
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The fourth thing I read about this is if the player goes to arbitration, then a team has a buyout window to improve their cap situation

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#5 David Johnson
July 29 2013, 11:38AM
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Cam Charron wrote:

A non-compliance buy-out on John-Michael Liles is the absolute worst case scenario.

Worse than having to trade Franson and not getting fair return?

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#7 David Johnson
July 29 2013, 12:08PM
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Cam Charron wrote:

I don't think you wouldn't get fair return on Franson. His offence is overvalued right now more than his defence, and that helps.

If anybody I'm with you and trade Phaneuf, rather than buy out Liles.

I'd be OK with trading Phaneuf but wouldn't be against a Liles buy out.

Also, if someone gets demoted I suspect it is Liles over Fraser.

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#8 Badger M
July 29 2013, 12:23PM
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Have to wonder what our top pairing would be if Phaneuf gets traded.

Gardiner-Franson getting the most TOI, but Gunnarsson-Ranger getting the toughest minutes?

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#9 David Johnson
July 29 2013, 01:01PM
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@Badger M

If Phaneuf gets traded I'd assume another defenseman would be coming back but absent that it means Rielly is almost certain to make the team (I suspect he will anyway, at least for a 9 game trial, cap permitting). Either way, I suspect there won't be a true #1 pairing like last year where Phaneuf and his partner got 25+ minutes per game. You'd probably see more of a 22-20-18 minute/game split among the three pairs.

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