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Philipp Kurashev’s Arbitration Award Good for Ryan McLeod

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
8 months ago
Ryan McLeod’s arbitration hearing is set for August 4th. After seeing what Philipp Kurashev was awarded, I could see why McLeod’s camp would want to go through the arbitration process.
Kurashev was awarded a two-year (Chicago had the option of a two- or one-year deal) contract with a $2.25m AAV. He produced 9-16-25 in 70 games last season. He skated 17:25/game with 14:32 at EV, 2:02 on the PP and 0:52 on the PK. He only had four PP assists in 141 minutes on the PP. He had 21 points at EV, with 19 coming at 5×5. Arbitration doesn’t go deep into analytics, but he was outscored 39-58 at 5×5. Granted the Blackhawks were terrible, and the only regular forward above 41GF%, was Max Domi at 50.58 (37-36).
If you prorated Kurashev’s point-totals over 82 games, he would have produced 10-19-29.
McLeod produced 11-12-23 in 57 games. He averaged 14:11/game with 11:38 at EV, 0:56 on the PP, and 1:38 on the PK. He had no points on the PP, three shorthanded, and 20 points EV, all of which came at 5×5. When on the ice 5×5, he outscored the opposition 27-26.
McLeod’s pro-rated 82-game pace was 16-17-33.
McLeod’s camp should be thrilled with the Kurashev award, while the Oilers likely won’t be happy about it. McLeod might ultimately take a lower AAV and sign with the Oilers because they are a legit Cup contender. If he signs for $1.8m or so, that leaves a bit more cash for others. However, McLeod had to sign for $798k last year because the Oilers were tight to the cap. It would be within his right to opt for arbitration and see what he receives.
Kurashev and Chicago are in a much different place than the Oilers and McLeod. The Blackhawks have loads of cap space and no chance of competing for the Stanley Cup next year. That won’t factor into the arbitrator’s award, but it might impact McLeod and the Oilers negotiations.
Jack McBain in Arizona (12-14-26 in 82 GP) will be loving the Kurashev award. Trent Frederic in Boston (17-14-31 in 79GP) should be in line for a big pay raise. Troy Terry posted back-to-back 60-point seasons, so he is in a much higher statistical category, but I’d guess his agent will look at Kurashev’s award and think his client has a very strong case.
Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov was awarded a one-year deal at $3.55m. He had great numbers with Toronto. In 42 games he was 27-10-5 with a .919Sv% and 2.33 GAA. Kurashev was a third liner in Chicago, while Samsonov was the starter, and played a much larger role for his team, but only was awarded $1.35m/year more. Goalies still get undervalued.
Jeremy Swayman (24-6-4 with a .920Sv% and 2.27 GAA) and Filip Gustavsson (22-9-7 with a .922Sv% and 2.10 GAA) will see the Samsonov award and it should give them a good outline for negotiating with Boston and Minnesota respectively.
I know in previous decades the arbitration process could strain a player’s relationship with his team. Many players are on record as saying the moment they walked out of the hearing they felt like they didn’t want to play for that team anymore. However, speaking with a few people in management today, they feel you can have a hearing without degrading your player. You can use contract comparisons, and not personally attack the weaknesses of your player. Not every team will approach it the same. Some might feel the need to point out, strongly in some cases, the weaknesses of a player, while others might not be as harsh. Either way, when you see awards like Kurashev received, then more players should consider it.
However, teams see the award Kurashev received, and it strengthens their belief that not qualifying a player might make more financial sense. The next scheduled hearing isn’t until July 30th (Swayman and McBain), followed by Frederic (August 1st), Terry (August 2nd), and McLeod, Gustavsson, Drew O’Connor and Brandon Scanlin on August 4th.
Will the Kurashev and Samsonov awards improve negotiations, or will they strengthen the resolve of some players or their individual teams?

KARLSSON TRADE REQUEST…

Dec 22, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates on the ice during warm-ups before the game against the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Johansson had a very good interview with Erik Karlsson in his homeland Sweden last week. Karlsson outlined he has asked the San Jose Sharks for a trade and even outlined where he’d like to play. I used Google Translate to outline the trade requests and possible destinations.
Johansson: Do you want to go to any specific place? Team, division or conference?
Karlsson: No, I’m open about this process. I don’t have a chosen destination; I just want the best chance to get to the best team. Where it is, well, we’ll see. I think San Jose has appreciated me being honest with them because this is a complicated thing to go through. I earn what I do, and the salary cap ($83.5 million next season) has barely gone up in three years, so the money is running low here and there.
Johansson: Pittsburgh is reported to be first in line right now, have you talked to them?
Karlsson: Yes, I have. I’ve talked to some teams, Pittsburgh being one of them. I’ve played against them for a lot of years and have a good grasp of that group with all the players who are there.
Johansson: Is it the team’s new general manager Kyle Dubas you’ve talked to? Or Jason Spezza, who you played with in Ottawa?
Karlsson: Me and Spezza have talked a lot, but we are friends from before. There hasn’t been business there. We even talked when he was in Toronto. It’s more on a friendship level, I’d say. I’ve talked to the people I need to talk to in Pittsburgh and Dubas is obviously one of them. I feel like I’ve been trying to get as much information as I can from those teams that are interested. How they look at me, what they want. I will try to make a decision based on the information I have received. I want to make the best decision for me and my family, if this goes all the way.
Johansson: Is Carolina one of the teams you’ve talked to too?
Karlsson: Yes.
Johansson: Toronto, Seattle?
Karlsson: I’ve talked to Seattle, yes, even some to Toronto. There have been a few more teams as well.
Johansson: Quite a few, anyway.
Karlsson: Yes, there is interest. Then it’s about putting it all together. That’s the hard part. We’ll see if it works out.
Johansson: Do you have Pittsburgh at the top of your list?
Karlsson: Well, I don’t have a priority list. I’m very open because I think that will lead to the best option in the end.
Johansson: Does it feel safe that you have a full no movement clause written into a contract, that you control your destiny?
Karlsson: Yes, it was important when I signed this contract, that I can manage myself – especially now that I have a family. We have to approve everything and that makes the process a little easier.
Johansson: Robert Luongo said when he couldn’t be traded from Vancouver in 2013 because “his contract sucks.” Have you ever thought that about your agreement?
Karlsson: No, I haven’t. Our careers are short, and everyone deserves what they get. We have to make the most of our market value, so I have no regrets. It complicates things but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Johansson: Where’s it right now? Do the Sharks come to an agreement with a club, or do you decide?
Karlsson: They need to agree. Somewhere. It takes time and it’s a process I don’t really understand, so I haven’t tried to get involved in it. I cannot really answer what applies now. Sure, I get updates but there is a lot of talk back and forth only. How it works, what they do now and what will happen – I have no answer to that. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I know what my family and I want. Now we just hope we get the chance.
Karlsson won the Golden Puck, awarded to the best Swedish hockey player. It was the third of his career, and that was the start of the interview. Karlsson had a fantastic season. He became the sixth defenceman, and first since 1991, to score 100 points in a season. He finished with 101 points. He was second in the NHL with 64 points at 5×5. He had an incredible season, and he would be a huge addition to any team. So would his cap hit of $11.5m AAV for four more seasons. Karlsson is healthy, and when he’s healthy is among the elite of the elite in the NHL.
A trade with Pittsburgh would have to include Jeff Petry ($6.25m for two more years), but he has a 15-team no-trade list. If Pittsburgh added Mikael Granlund (two years at $5m) then the Sharks wouldn’t have to retain any salary. The Penguins would then have to give up one of Brayden Yager or Owen Pickering and a future first r0under (maybe more picks) to make a deal work. The Penguins were 21st in 5×5 goals for last year and 14th on the PP at 21.7. Karlsson would give both areas a boost. I could see why Dubas and the Penguins would add Karlsson. They want to take another run to the Cup with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang before they have to do a lengthy rebuild.
Toronto would have to add William Nylander to the deal, but would he sign an extension in San Jose? Maybe, but unlikely as they won’t be a contender for years.
Would Seattle GM Ron Francis give up a few future first round picks? They had nine first or second round picks the previous two years. They could offer up quite a few prospects, but adding Karlsson’s salary would be the challenge. Justin Schultz (one year at $3m) would have to go the other way, but they’d have to ship out at least another $5m, likely more, unless the Sharks retain $3m in salary. Alex Wenneberg makes $4.5m for one more season so he could be part of the package. But they’d still have to add more salary I suspect. Eeli Tolvanen was great for the Kraken after being claimed on waivers from Nashville. He makes $1.4m, so that would push it to $9m, but he has some upside which could entice the Sharks.
I don’t see why Carolina would add Karlsson. They need a top-end forward. Although maybe they feel they would win similarly to St. Louis in 2019 with an elite blueline and some solid forwards.
It will be fascinating to see where Karlsson goes. He mentioned some other teams are in the mix, and one of them might be the destination. I think many teams would be interested in acquiring him.

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