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Ryan McLeod Arbitration, Evan Bouchard Comparisons and more

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Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
11 months ago
Ryan McLeod’s arbitration hearing is set for August 4th, the final day of hearings. He was one of 23 players who filed, but the odds he and the Edmonton Oilers go through the arbitration process are low. Most players sign a contract prior to arbitration. In the six days since players filed for arbitration, we’ve already seen five of them sign deals.
Here is a list of the arbitration dates:
July 20
Philipp Kurashev (Chicago)
Brandon Duhaime (Minnesota)
Alexei Toropchenko (St. Louis)
Noah Cates (Philadelphia). Signed a two-year, $2.65m AAV deal. He tallied 13-25-38 in 82 games last year.
July 21
Ilya Samsonov (Toronto)
July 24
Brett Howden (Vegas)
Vince Dunn (Seattle)
Tanner Jeannot (Tampa Bay)
July 26 
Ian Mitchell (Boston). Signed a one-year, one-way $775K deal. His QO was $813,750 in the NHL but was a two-way deal. He gets a one-way deal, and much more guaranteed money if sent to the AHL.
Will Borgen (Seattle). Signed a two-year, $2,7m AAV deal. He produced 3-17-20, all at even strength and averaged 16:22/game on the Kraken blueline.
July 27
Ross Colton (Colorado)
July 28
Gabriel Vilardi (Winnipeg)
Cale Fleury (Seattle). Signed a two-year deal with $800K AAV. His QO was $866,250 in NHL but was a two-way deal. He gets two-years of NHL money.
July 30
Jeremy Swayman (Boston)
Jack McBain (Arizona)
July 31
Alex DeBrincat (was with Ottawa when he filed but was then traded to Detroit). Signed a four-year, $7.85m AAV with Detroit.
August 1
Trent Frederic (Boston)
August 2
Morgan Barron (Winnipeg)
Troy Terry (Anaheim)
August 4
Ryan McLeod (Edmonton)
Brandon Scanlin (New York Rangers)
Filip Gustavsson (Minnesota)
Drew O’Connor (Pittsburgh)
The Oilers and McLeod have 24 days to sort out a deal before meeting with an arbitrator. History suggests they will get a deal done before then. If you are unfamiliar with the arbitration process here’s a quick summary: The player’s agent will present their case, usually with three or four comparables, and then what AAV they want. The team does the same. The team has the lower AAV and the player comes in with the higher one. The arbitrator will listen to both cases, and then has 48 hours to make a decision. Whatever AAV they decide both parties have to agree to, unless it is higher than $4.538m. If it is higher than that the team can opt to walk and the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. McLeod won’t be near $4.5m.
Other factors in arbitration: To date, analytics matter very little, if at all. The main stats are goals, assists, points, points/game and time on ice. They can look at shots, hits, blocks, giveaways and takeaways, but very rarely do they factor in. Points/game can be used as a starting point for comparison, but the player with fewer games does get knocked down a bit. Teams will argue that health (availability) is important. And as we know if a player has 25 points in 50 games, it doesn’t guarantee he will produce 16 points in the next 30 games. Pro-rating is a guestimate at best.

ACTUAL COMPARABLE PLAYERS…

McLeod produced 11 goals and 23 points in 57 games this past season. Klim Kostin scored 11-10-21 in 57 games and Morgan Geekie produced 9-19-28 in 69 games — similar numbers, and if you prorate over an 82-game season, McLeod would be 16-17-33, Kostin 16-14-30 and Geekie 11-22-33. Very similar. However, Kostin and Geekie cannot be used in arbitration, because neither was qualified, and both became unrestricted free agents. Kostin and Geekie each signed two-year deals with $2m AAV.
McLeod is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The only players McLeod’s camp and the Oilers can use as comparisons are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. It is best to use players who signed last off-season or already this year. There isn’t a long list of options.
PlayerGPG-A-PTSTOI/GPAAV
Cody Glass7214-21-3514:46$2.5m/2yr
Isac Lundestrom8016-13-2915:29$1.8m/2yr
Eetu Luostarinen789–17-2613:26$1.5m/2yr
Ryan McLeod5711–12-2314:11??
Lundestrom is likely the closest comparison. I see McLeod coming in between $1.8m-$2.2m. Lundestrom and Luostarinen signed their deals last summer. Luostarinen took a big step this year producing 17-26-43 in 82 games, while Lundestrom struggled and scored only 4-10-14 in 61 games for the Ducks. If you had asked people last summer, based on their 2022 production and AAV, many might have preferred the Lundestrom deal. A year later, and Luostarinen looks like a bargain.
Glass is likely on the high end, but if I’m the McLeod camp I’m using him for sure. Their career numbers are close. Glass has scored 23 goals and 58 points in 146 games. McLeod has scored 20 goals and 45 points in 138 games. Glass is a 0.397 point/game player and McLeod is 0.326.

QUICK HITS…

  • Players have until July 15th to accept their qualifying offer. If they don’t sign it, then teams can offer them a lower AAV. Raphael Lavoie was qualified at $874,125, but it was a two-way deal and has a lower AHL salary. I don’t see him signing a one-way deal, but I expect he won’t sign his QO, but will sign a new deal that has a lower NHL AAV, but a higher AHL salary.
  • Evan Bouchard’s camp has two new contracts to use as comparisons. Bowen Byram signed a two-year deal, $3.85m AAV deal on July 1st and K’Andre Miller signed a two-year, $3.872m deal today with the New York Rangers. Both were RFAs without arbitration rights similar to Bouchard.
  • If Bouchard signs for $3.85m, then the Oilers likely start the season with a 21-man roster, so they can accrue cap space. They’d carry 12 forwards, seven D-men and two goalies. It isn’t ideal, but it will be challenging for the Oilers to sign Bouchard for $3.0-$3.2m at this point. If they did that, and signed McLeod for $1.8m, then they could carry 22-man roster and still have around $600K in cap space to start the season. The Oilers, barring a serious injury from today to the start of the regular season, won’t start the season in LTIR. They want to be under the cap and accrue cap space, so they have more room to add players at the deadline.
  • If they start with $600K in cap space, and accrue it until the deadline, then they would have essentially $2.4m in cap space at the deadline, and considering teams often retain salary at the deadline, they could add a player with a $4.8m cap hit, as long as the other team retains 50%. That $2.4m figure will lower if the Oilers have an injury that forces them into LTIR for a month or longer.
  • I also still expect the Oilers to sign another veteran NHL forward, preferably a centre, to a $775-$800K salary, but it likely won’t happen until August. Or they’ll look at the PTO route and bring in one or two vets.

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