Canucks file "cutdown" arbitration on Mason Raymond. Q.O is $2.6 million. Salary can’t drop more than to $2.21 million if Van wins arb case.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 13, 2012
We’ve been wondering what would happen with Mason Raymond’s qualifying offer for months now, and thanks to Darren Dreger’s afternoon scoop, now we know.
Mason Raymond’s status was particularly interesting heading into this offseason. He’s a quasi-core piece and one the Canucks have been very high on (despite his relative lack of production the past two seasons) because he "drives play" and has consistently posted spectacular underlying numbers. Of course that changed this season, as Raymond’s performance fell off significantly – probably because it can take a long time to physically and mentally recover from breaking vertebrae in your back.
Read past the jump for more.
I’m not quite sure where the word "cutdown" comes from in Dreger’s tweet, but the relevant legaleese can be found in the CBA under section 12.3 (a)(i) and 12.3 (a)(ii). Here’s the relevant language from section 12.3(a)(i):
If a Player who is otherwise eligible to receive a Qualifying Offer and become a Group 2 Restricted Free Agent had a Paragraph 1 NHL Salary plus Signing, Roster and Reporting Bonuses in excess of $1,500,000 in aggregate in the final League Year of his most recent SPC, a Club may elect to file for salary arbitration to determine the Player’s Paragraph 1 Salary for the upcoming League Year in lieu of making a Qualifying Offer to such Player.
And section 12.3 (a)(ii):
In any salary arbitration that takes place pursuant to this section 12.3(a), the Salary Arbitrator may not award the Player a Paragraph 1 Salary that is less than eight-five (85) percent of the aggregate sum of Player’s Paragraph 1 Salary plus Signing, Reporting and Roster Bonuses in the final League Year of his most recent SPC.
It’s not like the Canucks are using some new fangled type of "Gilman CBA dark magic" in this case. They’re simply exercising their right to push a would be "Group 2 Restricted Free Agent" to arbitration, rather than granting him a qualifying offer. This allows the team to contest the value of Mason Raymond’s salary next season. This way they’re not just being stuck with a 2.6 million dollar cap-hit, which, is the figure Raymond would have been entitled to had he been qualified.
It’s a smart move by the Canucks, and I’d wager that the gambit will succeed at reducing Raymond’s base salary. After all, Mason Raymond’s agent JP Barry will be unable to present any of the advanced statistical data that paints a flattering picture of the speedy, gravity challenged winger’s value. The minimum that Raymond will be paid next year is 2.21 (as per Dreger’s tweet) but the arbitrator can decide on a figure higher than that. As we mentioned above, however, Raymond and Barry don’t have a lot of leverage in this situation.
There are two possible complications we should quickly go over. The first is that the team will be unable to walk away from any decision granted by the arbitrator (since the arbitration hearing will be a "team elected" one). So, it’s possible albeit unlikely, that the team won’t ultimately benefit from this maneuver in the slightest. The other thing to note is that the Canucks can only take two of their players to arbitration in a given year. Given that we expect them to protect Cory Schneider in this manner on July fifth (assuming he hasn’t been signed to an Offer Sheet before then), it’s likely that the Canucks’ arbitration dance card will be fully used up as a result of this decision.
So Mason Raymond is going to be back next year (barring a trade, which, seems unlikely) even though the Canucks are going to try and reduce his cap-hit. While Raymond struggled through much of last season – after this kick in the posterior, and with a full summer to train and heal, it’s certainly possible he’ll re-find his 2009-10, 2010-11 form next season. It’s a gamble, but on a short term deal, potentially worth only 2.2 million per season against the cap, it’s a gamble the team can afford (especially after what Chris Kelly and David Jones signed for), and one they’ve taken steps to make even more manageable.