Monday, July 23, 2007

Laich Heads To Arbitration

The dog days are officially upon us, friends, but luckily only in a "there's not a whole hell of a lot of hockey news" way and not in a Michael Vick sorta way.

There is some news, however, regarding one of the Caps' remaining restricted free agents. Barring a last minute deal, the Caps and forward Brooks Laich will be before an arbitrator today, presenting their respective cases for what the Saskatchewan native's 2007-08 salary should be.

Frankly, I'm not sure what Laich (who came to Washington in exchange for Peter Bondra back in the Spring of '04) hopes to achieve in arbitration. Sure, his goal total increased 14% this past season over 2005-06... but that bump took him from seven to eight - not exactly a breakout season. And he did prove his versatility while improving both his plus/minus and his fauxhawk. But with less-than-gaudy numbers on a team with far more options than spots on the bottom two lines and with Brian Sutherby (who has a 14-goal season under his belt and wore an "A" last season) signing for $800,000 just last week, how much can Laich really be asking for?

Previously: Jurcina, Laich Elect Arbitration

Update: The Forechecker has a good preview of what the hearing might be like.

Update: If I'm Laich, maybe I walk in with this video teed up to #6...


Tyler said...

A multi-year deal? Not saying he should get it, but maybe that's the motivation: He'll settle if he gets a two-year deal.

JP said...

Could be.

My understanding, btw, is that the team can't walk away unless the arb's decision is over a certain dollar amount per annum (and that number is well over $1m). In other words, I don't think there's going to be a ruling here that will result in the team and the player parting ways any time too soon.

JP said...

I updated the post with a link to The Forechecker's preview of the hearing. Of particular interest to me (and why Laich may be more valuable than many think) was his compilation of "quick shots" generated/prevented by centers in non-neutral zone draws.

Sure, Laich had the third-best percentage on defensive zone draws - only 3.9% of the time did a shot, goal, blocked shot or missed shot take place within 5 seconds of the draw.

But look at who the worst in the League at that was - Michael Nylander. And 7th worst? Viktor Kozlov.

Having the Laichs, Gordons and Sutherbys of the world out there to take late draws in the defensive zone can prove as important to the team as Nyls or Backstrom winning draws at the other end, and certainly can't be overlooked.


1) Have to agree that anything more than 700-800K for an unproductive defensive center is way too much.
2) Wasn't aware that teams can't 'walk away' from an award if its under a million.
3) The caps suddenly don't have a lot of openings at center. With Backstrom/Nylander now occupying the top 2 slots, and Gordon/Sutherby obstensively the bottom 2.

JP said...

I'll take Laich as my 3rd or 4th line RW over Clymer and Bradley any day - I like having a guy on my checking line who can step in and take a draw if the normal center gets thrown out, too.

As for the provision in the CBA (warning: PDF), it's 12.10(e), if anyone cares to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Laich is a good hockey player whose ice time was significantly and needlessly diminished by whathisname, uh, that Beech fella.
I hope we retain him - but McPhee has bigger fish to fry.
Why hasnt Ovie been extended yet?

Joe said...

Anonymous, Don't worry about OV yet. There will not be an extension until he returns to the States. They can't have the big press conference without him.

Mike L said...

Vogel talked about Laich's hearing over in his blog, and I am in agreement with him that the big issue isn't the dollar figure, it's whether it's a one-way or two-way deal. With a lot of the new players coming to DC being forwards, it's going to be a little crowded up front, and he wants to try to make sure he gets his $$ whether he plays in DC or Hershey.