Monday, July 6, 2009

What we are Hearing

More news in Ranger-ville. We mentioned earlier that RFAs (restricted free agents) have the ability to get signed anywhere - but the Rangers have the right to match the deal and keep the player. There's another important aspect to RFA's. RFA's have the right to apply for an arbitration hearing if they choose to.

For Nik Zherdev and Ryan Callahan, that has now happened. Both players notified the Rangers they they want arbitration. For Nik, the Rangers' qualifying offer was $3.25 million. And for Ryan, the Rangers offered $660,000.

Here's what will happen next;

  • A hearing date with an impartial third party will be scheduled to occur for both players - sometime between July 20th and August 4th. The player and the Rangers can continue to negotiate up until the arbitration hearing.

  • If they get to the hearing with no deal - then the player and the Rangers each propose a salary and present their case to the arbitrator - who reviews the information and decides on a fair salary.

  • But the team gets a huge advantage here - if they choose to - they can reject the salary. If that happens, the player then moves from an RFA to a UFA. And as an unrestricted free agent - the player can make his own deal with any team he chooses with no remaining options for the Rangers.

So, what does this mean? First of all - it means that Nik and Ryan are not accepting the Rangers' qualifying offers. It also means they have not yet gotten an offer from another team. But of course - other teams are often reluctant to spend time working with a RFA player when the original team can just "match and snatch" the player back. The hearing date serves as a negotiation deadline. And of course there is the danger that the arbitrator sets a salary level the Rangers won't want to pay - so it can result in the player leaving.

Also - there can be an emotional effect on the player. Hearings can get a little nasty as the Rangers have to make a public case against their own player as a way of keeping costs down.
We like Ryan a lot and hope the Rangers keep him. One factor on our side - Callahan will cost a lot less than Zherdev - making him easier to keep.

But will Sather, having already lost one Russian Nik (Antropov) decide to let the other Nik walk as well? Time will tell.

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