July 14, 2015
When asked about the ongoing negotiations between the Flyers and restricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto last week, general manager Ron Hextall quickly used the words “status quo” and “amicable.” Whether or not the talks are in fact friendly, they’re less than a week away from being settled by a neutral third party.
On Monday afternoon, the NHL Players Association announced the dates for player arbitration hearings and Del Zotto’s is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21st in Toronto. At Flyers exit interviews back in April, the 25-year-old restricted free agent defenseman was asked about whether he was looking for a long-term deal.
"You always want term, you want that security, but you want to be paid fairly as well," Del Zotto said. "It's a matter of trying to find that middle ground."
The Flyers and Del Zotto have been unable to find that middle ground so far. Here are a few details on what the arbitration process will be like:
• The two sides are allowed to negotiate all the way up until the hearing, and deadlines often have a way of making deals happen. Ideally, neither side wants to go through the hassle of the legal expenses and the risk of a frayed relationship that comes from a team essentially arguing to a player, “We don’t think you’re nearly as good as you do.”
• Per CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio, the two sides are still hard at work:
Agent Mark Guy on Del Zotto contract talks w/Flyers: "We are still talking and working on it." Arbit. hearing is July 21— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) July 14, 2015
• According to Frank Seravalli, who recently went all big-time on us at TSN, the playing field was evened a little bit with the inclusion of “enhanced stats” as evidence that can be argued in these things. In the past, teams could use their own advanced statistics to make their argument, but now players can use the data included on NHL.com this year.
• Even with the shrewd trade of Nicklas Grossmann, the Flyers have seven defenseman under contract outside of Del Zotto: Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Yevgeny Medvedev, Nick Schultz, Radko Gudas, and Brandon Manning.
• That doesn’t even include the young stable of defensemen who are anxious to make the big club, including highly regarded 7th overall pick Ivan Provorov. The team wasted no time offering him an entry-level contract.
• Because Del Zotto (the player) was the party that filed for arbitration, the Flyers don’t have to accept the deal if his salary is more than $3,799,887 for the 2015-16 season. If that were to happen and the Flyers declined, MDZ would become an unrestricted free agent.
• The Flyers currently have $4,458,334 of cap space, per General Fanager. The award generally has a term of a one or two-year deal.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann