The Edmonton Oilers can circle August 4 on their calendar as the date of Ryan McLeod’s salary arbitration hearing. The forward has elected to meet with a neutral arbitrator to help resolve the stalemate in his contract negotiations with the team.
McLeod’s performance and case for arbitration
The 23-year-old forward is coming off of his first full year in the NHL where he put up 23 points in 57 games, playing as a very good third line centre.
Last year, McLeod signed a one-year deal just above league minimum as a “show-me” contract to the team. And he absolutely showed the team. This year, he is naturally looking for much more after putting up just under a half-point-per-game. His path to arbitration is like every other player who wants to cash in on their proven results.
For the Oilers, there is no doubt that they want to keep the Mississauga product. However, coming off of his first full-season, there isn’t much of a track record in terms of what he is. He has played just 138 games in the NHL, and had an injury-shortened campaign to boot.
With dollars tight in this flat-cap era, the team will also be trying to keep their young RFA under contract for as cheap as possible to continue to be a contender in the Pacific Division. The more they spend on McLeod, the less they have to add more depth to the roster.
Contract negotiation is a two-way street and both sides have valid reasons to take this to the courts.
What to expect from arbitration
The odds of this going right to August 4 are remote. Both of last year’s arbitration cases for the Oilers—Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi—were settled in advance of their hearing dates. Given that McLeod’s case is the very last one on the schedule right now, it’s likely that the team and his agent (Joseph Resnick of Top Shelf Sports Management) come to an arrangement well in advance.
The hope is to find a happy medium between where the player thinks he’s being valued for what he brings and the team is able to continue to build out around him. McLeod is an excellent two-way forward who put up good numbers without playing with the team’s top players. As a result of his usage, he only put up 11 goals this season. His underlying numbers are quite good, but it’s hard to expect the Oilers to pay him as a result of those numbers as opposed to for the role he plays on the team.
I would imagine that given the cap is expected to go up in the next year or two, McLeod probably earns a contract somewhere around the $2 million dollar mark on a one- or two-year deal. This almost certainly gets done before the hearting date.
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