Arbitration question for Tom_Benjamin

Discussion in 'The Business of Hockey' started by mudcrutch79, Nov 23, 2004.

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  1. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    Tom, we're in the midst of a wild argument about Lowe as GM of the Oilers over on the Oilers board. The Marchant issue has been raised and an ingenious argument has been made. I'm curious if your knowledge enables you to provide any insight. I've included the series of posts below.

     
  2. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    As long as they paid him the league average salary, Edmonton could have retained his rights. Marchant could not have gotten less in arbitration if the Oilers had offered the ALS, even if he asked for less. The arbitrator would see what he was trying to do. Every player who came into the league as an 18 year old would have used the arbitration process to get less than the ALS at age 28 and get free agency three years early if this was allowed. That was not the intention of either party when the CBA was negotiated and it would take an incredibly wrongheaded interpretation by an arbitrator to allow it for Marchant or anyone else.

    The Kasparaitus case was entirely different. Craig Patrick made a mistake. Gandler came to the hearing ready to argue his case. The Penguins opted for a two year award and came in really lowballing. The first year of their offer was below the ALS and the second year was over it. Gandler knew the CBA inside out and he knew the second year of the deal became moot if Darien was below the ALS the first year.

    So he closed up his briefcase and conceded the case. Hope that helps.

    If it matters, I agreed with Lowe about Marchant. If the team is paying Todd Marchant like a second line player and giving him second line minutes, the team isn't good enough to win. Third liners don't get $1.8 million and I wouldn't pay it either. I like him as a player, but not at that money. I don't think the Oilers regret letting him go, and I'm sure Columbus is wondering why they gave him $18 million. He's Marty Lapointe redux.

    Tom
     
  3. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    Thanks for the response, it clears a few things up, and makes perfect sense. For what it's worth, I agree the price to pay was too high, but would have done it for the season, if only to have the asset to move. As Doug MacLean showed, there's a market for guys like Marchant, and Lowe could have got a pick or something out of it for a pretty low marginal cost.

    Thanks a lot.
     
  4. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    Maybe, but $250,000 is $250,000. A later round draft pick isn't worth $250,000. I figure Lowe was looking ahead and thinking,

    "If I pay him enough to retain his rights, I just get myself into a problem next June. I don't want to qualify him at the league ALS. That would make him a free agent when I don't and I don't get compensated. This way, he walks, Columbus makes a mistake and I get a second rounder. Could I get a second rounder next spring when everyone knows I don't want to qualify him?"

    "Plus he is a popular player and most fans won't understand why I am doing this. I may as well take the hit for being stupid now as opposed to when I don't qualify him next June. And it is $250,000."

    Tom
     
  5. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "he walks, Columbus makes a mistake and I get a second rounder." There's no compensation for Group V Free Agents. I don't know the chances of a second rounder panning out-and a second round pick seems likely to me in a trade, but if it pans out, I think you'll make quite a healthy return on your investment, in terms of paying the guy less than you'd have to pay a comparable player during the early days of his career. Really, it all depends on the money saved by having a player without arbitration or free agency rights * the possibility the player turns out versus the 250K. It seems reasonable to me-maybe Lowe crunched the numbers, but I don't think so, given some of the salaries in Edmonton.
     
  6. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    You are right on this, sorry, and that makes the argument for paying him more for another year stronger. Still, I don't have a real problem with this choice.

    What is the right to overpay Todd Marchant worth? On a really good team, Marchant is a third liner and even the big money teams won't pay third liners this kind of money. They aren't interested because they have stars to pay. On a bad team, he is worth second line money, but the bad team won't give up futures for him. Or at least they shouldn't. That's McLean's excuse really. He didn't cost them anything except money.

    A couple of other points. First, Lowe probably shopped Marchant that spring. Trading him that year was one of his options, so Lowe probably had an idea about his trade value when he failed to give him the ALS.

    Second, Todd made Lowe look really bad by having his career year. In other words, your call works out better for the Oilers when we have the benefit of hindsight. If he was worth anything in a trade, it was a more after the year he had.

    (Although to be honest, I think giving too much in a trade is just a big of a mistake as overpaying him. I think sometimes teams get fooled by a good year or a bad year. Results flutuate a lot more than the underlying talent. I always want my team to pay for the talent not merely the latest result.)

    Tom
     
  7. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    That's a fair point in relation to Lowe having an idea of his worth by having shopped him at the trade deadline. I agree that he made the Oilers look bad by having a career year (massive increase in ice time due to injuries). I'm still fairly confident that Lowe could have gotten a decent return for him at the deadline though. If you look at the deals that go down every year, teams that think that they have a shot are massively overpaying if you consider the change that the new player will cause to the points they can expect to achieve. The playoffs are such a crapshoot that the difference one player makes is minimal as well. In spite of this you see these types of deal go down every year. I think sellers constantly make out like bandits at the deadline, particularly when it's a rent-a-player deal, where a guy is going UFA at the end of the year. The epic example of this is the Bobby Clarke three picks and a prospect for 14 games of Adam Oates. Inexcusable.

    In fairness to me, I was posting at fanhome at the time, and thought it was a bizarre move then. If this was like baseball where there a significant number of non-tenders each year, I'd see the move making sense, but it didn't to me in this case.

    It still seems nuts to me to say that there was a market for Marchant at 5 years/19 mil, but there was no market for him in a trade, where he would have been an RFA with limited earning power, albeit recourse to arbitration. It's illogical. The good outcomes for Lowe for a gamble of 250K seem pretty numerous to me, the risk low.

    On a different topic, you're a Canucks fan, why did Burke let Letowski go? The topic of Moreau has been raised in the Lowe thread-I don't think it makes sense to pay him what he makes (excellent example of the results exceeding the underlying talent this year), and I've cited Letowski as an example of the type of replacement out there. He got two years and 1.5 mil in Columbus. I've always seen him as a third line type-am I wrong?
     
  8. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    If a team with a shot could use him, they'd probably be happier if he was about to become a UFA than if he was an RFA. Rentals are rentals and Todd would be a rental. The Oilers could have traded him anyway. Although the Marchant type player isn't the type of player we normally see moved.

    I agree with what you say about these deadline deals. I can't understand the price some of these teams paid to play a guy for a few weeks. I do think they are sometimes more complicated than they appear. Sometimes teams have to clear roster spots. Ottawa almost has to be a buyer at the deadline because they have so many prospects and so few jobs.

    One of the thing that amazes me about the best teams is that they have to dump so much talent. When you are building you can stick three or four young players in the lineup. When you become good you have to work to find roster spots. It is easy to develop players when you have quality ice time to dish out. It gets a lot harder when the team is good enough that rookie mistakes really cost and you have some great players sucking up disproportionate amounts of time.

    I'm stunned there was that market for him, too, but this isn't as big of a contradiction as it first seems. A team that would sign Marchant as a free agent and a team that would trade for him can be two different beasts. I can see a contender trading for him at the deadline but I can't see a contender wooing him as a free agent. I can't see a Columbus giving up prospects for him at the deadline, but they did make a free agent offer.

    He let Letowski go because he wanted the roster spot. It has become hard to improve the Canucks and upgrading Letowski was one way to do it. Again it is a mark of quality when you are upgrading Letowski because he is a useful player. Burke wanted more toughness in the lineup night after night from the bottom half of his lineup. Burke used Letowski's money to sign Arvedson and Crawford gave most of his ice time to Ruutu.

    Letowski usually got fourth line ice time in Vancouver, but he killed penalties and when injuries piled up, he could assume a larger role.

    Tom
     
  9. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    Actually both years were under the ALS. The entire award was for $2.4 million with $1.15 million awarded for the first year. Craig Patrick made what appears to be mistake. It had to be intentional. Patrick knows the CBA as well as anyone. He knew exactly what would happen. He eliminated a messy PR problem, and got the desired outcome with the NHLPA taking the heat for it from the fans. Instead of the onus being on Patrick to re-sign a popular player the Pens couldn't afford, he shifted the focus to the CBA and the NHLPA. It was a brilliant "mistake" by Patrick.
     
  10. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    I don't know...you don't think that Kaspar would have had value in the league at ALS, in terms of what he could recover in a trade? Tom's version seems to make more sense to me, although I still think Lowe should have qualified Marchant above ALS for the same reasons. I suppose I could be misreading the value that players have in trades, and the bearing their FA status has upon it.
     
  11. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    He wouldn't have accepted the Pens offer if were above ALS and below what he thought was his market value. If that were the case the player would have argued for a much higher salary and he probably would have been awarded around $3 million per year. The Pens had a full year to trade him. The Pens did trade Kasparaitis to Colorado for Ville Nieminen and Rick Berry. That was considered very good value at the time, and I don't think it's possible they would have received that much if he was signed to an expensive long-term contract. Patrick played it perfectly.

    It wouldn't have mattered what Lowe qualified Marchant at. He was going to use his option to become a Group V UFA. He stated that numerous times. Lowe's last realistic option with Marchant was to deal him at the deadline. After that it was out of Lowe's hands unless he wanted to offer Marchant a ridiculous long-term deal. You make it seem as if the GM had all the leverage and everything was under his control. Marchant's trade value at last year's deadline is indicated by the fact that he wasn't dealt. No one was going to offer anything decent for a 3rd liner with that contract and a new CBA on the horizon. If anything Columbus would have had to eat some salary. Forget about the arbitration and qualifying offer angles. The only thing Lowe can be criticized for is not dealing Marchant when he had the chance.
     
  12. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    I'm talking about 2002. If Lowe had qualified him at 1.9, Marchant wouldn't have had any choice in the matter.
     
  13. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    This isn't right, although you are correct about the wage in the second year of the contract. First, Patrick did not have to take him to arbitration to get him to take a $500,000 pay cut. If he offered it on a one year deal, Gandler obviously would have taken it. Second, if he knew what he was doing, there was no need to opt for the two year arbitration award.

    He thought that Kasparaitis would be bound to the Penguins for the second year of the two year contract even though after the first year he had the 10 years in and was under the league ALS. He forgot about the clause that allows the player to void the second year of an arbitration award if he qualified as a Group V after the first year.

    Third, right up until the trade deadline that year, Patrick was trying to claim that Kasparaitis was not going to become an unrestricted free agent. There was talk of another arbitration hearing tio determine his status.

    Here's a link to a story from March 2002.

    Tom
     
  14. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    It wouldn't have been possible for Patrick to play it like he was taken advantage of by the evil NHLPA and unfair CBA. If Patrick qualified Kasper below his previous salary he'd automatically become an UFA. The Pens qualifying offer was $1.6 million. Patrick didn't take anyone to arbitration. That's a players perogative. Why didn't Patrick offer Kasper a salary below the ALS after he rejected the qualifying offer? I think it's obvious that if he did that, the blame for losing Kasparaitis would fall on his shoulders.

    That's what Patrick would like everyone to believe. That he was victimized by an unfair system. I'm surprised that a staunch advocate for players such as yourself fell for it. I can understand the the media swallowing it hook, line, and sinker. Patrick is one of the sharpest GM's in the game. He knew exactly what he was doing. There's no secret, special clause that Patrick could have overlooked. It's all stated clearly.
     
  15. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    Does anybody believe that he was victimized by an unfair system? Nobody believes this. Everyone thinks he made a mistake. He got blamed for making a mistake. He was victimized by his own stupidity. (And that isn't very fair. Patrick knows what he is doing, generally speaking. He made a mistake.)

    When he traded Jagr and all the rest he played the victim successfully. If he merely didn't want to pay Kasperaitis he would have just traded him like he traded everyone else and then blamed the CBA for it. That would work. That is a strategy with a tried and true track record. The evil NHLPA and the CBA gets it in the neck every time.

    Instead of dealing him and blaming the CBA like with all the others, he saw a benefit in deliberately making Kasperaitis an unrestricted free agent two years early. Whatever that benefit was - and I can't see it - Patrick cleverly achieved it by appearing to make a stupid mistake. Then he stuck to his story - that Kasperaitis wasn't going to be a UFA - right up until he traded him.

    And he did this all in a vain attempt to play the victim. When I refuse to bite on that and call it a mistake, I've fallen for his remarkable ruse hook, line and sinker.

    Boy, do I feel like a fool for going for that one.

    Tom
     
  16. thinkwild

    thinkwild Veni Vidi Toga

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    Its not really nuts when you look at in terms of the contract being traded, not the player. What is the remaining year of him on that contract worth. Signing him later as a UFA costs nothing. When the Sens werent going to qualify Bonk, we only got a 3rd rounder for him, and he ended going to Montreal where he took a paycut. What trade value would Marchant have?

    It is an interesting conspiracy case on Casper though. Its hard to see the direct benefit Patrick gets from pretending he erred. Other than he got him cheap for a few months. Maybe that contract got him slightly higher value or kept him in budget. Maybe he really thought Casper would stay and play for it. It was cleverly designed if Patrick was pretending to err.
     
  17. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    I don't know what Marchant's value in arbitration would have been-he'd have had a strange case. Let's say he was worth 2.5. Realistically, he was coming off his best season, and wasn't going to match it again. So you can have him until he's 31 for 2.5 per year, if you so desire. That would have saved CBJ something like 2 million bucks. 2 million bucks isn't worth a 2nd round draft pick?
     
  18. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    The player has the choice to accept or reject the qualifying offer. In 1998, Donald Audette rejected that type of offer from the Sabres to preserve his right to become a Group V free agent. It led to a lengthy holdout and him being traded to the Kings. He was only going to sign for what he thought his market value would be as an UFA or else he wanted a deal below the ALS so he could become an UFA. It was joked that he was holding out for lower pay. Marchant very well may have accepted $1.9 million, but I wouldn't take it as a given considering the contracts being handed out to UFA's at that time.
     
  19. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    I think Marchant would have accepted the league ALS, but I agree it was not a given. At the time, I thought Marchant came across as being happy either way. The Oilers had to give him a really big raise or he would be a UFA.

    Todd Marchant isn't worth the money. I wouldn't give him the really big raise because I think the objective is to build a champion. I think Mudcrutch makes a good point: That overpaying Marchant for a year and unloading him at the deadline might have worked out better and is a reasonable choice, too.

    It is hard for me to sort it out without using hindsight. At the time, my reaction was "Lowe doesn't want to overpay Todd Marchant. Doing it this way is better than paying him the ALS this year and then not qualifying him the next. It saves money and I don't think Marchant is worth anything in a trade." If that idea turned out to be wrong it is mostly because Marchant had a year that was completely out of context with the rest of his career. I'm not going to kick myself about it.

    I don't think the amount McLean paid Marchant reflects his value in a trade or as a free agent, for that matter. He is not the kind of player who is perceived to be able to put a team over the top and those are the guys with significant trade value in a deadline deal.

    Group V's tend to be more expensive relative to their quality than Group III's because they are younger. They may be overpaying but at least the Blue Jackets can expect Marchant to hold most of his value over the life of his contract. The same can't be said for the likes of Bobby Holik, Bill Guerin or Jeremy Roenick.

    The Blue Jackets also had to pay a premium for Marchant because the contract makes a Stanley Cup win for him very unlikely. I can imagine a contending team offering him a far shorter, thinner deal, a deal that makes sense for Todd Marchant playing the usual Todd Marchant role. Columbus was hiring him for a much larger role for a much longer period of time. I do think that was the big mistake in L'Affaire Marchant. Todd Marchant can't improve Columbus. They are spending $20 million to stay in pretty much the same place.

    What's the sense in that? That's why Edmonton let him go. They did not get worse by replacing him. Why pay him the ALS if he doesn't make a real difference?

    Tom
     
  20. mudcrutch79

    mudcrutch79 Registered User

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    If Craig Patrick's such a genius at understanding the CBA, how in the hell does he let MA Fleury accumulate a year of service time last year? That was an asinine decision, and one no GM with an understanding of the CBA should make. Pittsburgh fans should remember this when Fleury holds out for his next contract, and remember it even more when they're complaining about his fat arbitration contract.
     
  21. dawgbone

    dawgbone Registered User

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    Just a question Tom... why would Marchant accept the ALS?

    That would essentially tie him up as an RFA for 3 more years (provided that he continued to make the ALS)... and like you said, group V's usually get paid more relative to their quality than group III's, meaning that he'd probably be missing out on a bigger payday when he became a UFA at 31, as opposed to 28.

    Seems to me, he'd probably ask for more than the ALS, and at around a figure that he figured he'd come close to getting as a UFA...
     
  22. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    I didn't think this was a bad choice. The big question with Fleury is the bonuses. He didn't make them this year. He probably won't make them this year if they play or if he splits his time between the AHL and NHL. The Pens aren't winning anything for the next couple of years, and Patrick can make sure he doesn't make more than the rookie maximum his first three years.

    Letting him get to arbitration a year early may cost down the road, but not relative to what Fleury has in his rookie contract. I made that point when he signed the contract. It almost guaranteed he was getting sent back to Junior at some point last year. Sometimes the biggest deal isn't the best deal for the player.

    Tom
     
  23. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    He doesn't become a Group V unless he plays. What was he going to do? He could file for arbitration but I don't think there is an arbitrator in the world who would have paid him a lot more than the ALS.

    So what does he do? Hold out? Buffaloed pointed out that Audette did that. I don't remember the case, but I can't see Marchant having any leverage. If he turned down the ALS, and I'm Kevin Lowe, I'd yank the offer.

    Then I'd offer him 3 years, $4 million. Take it or leave it. What would Marchant do? What could he do? If I'm his agent, I tell him to accept the ALS. Otherwise he has to hope Lowe didn't go to the Brian Burke school of hardball.

    Tom
     
  24. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    It was to the Pens advantage to expend a year of Fleury's contract without having to pay him significant incentive bonus money.

    It was very shrewd of Patrick to get a year of Fleury's contract out of the way when he had the chance. Any new contract will be under some kind of cap, and it won't contain ridiculous bonuses for easy to reach incentives.
     
  25. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    I'm not sure that I would call it shrewd. I call it obvious. And the old CBA did not contain ridiculous bonuses for easy to achieve incentives. Fleury did not achieve his bonuses because whether he achieves them is completely within the control of the hockey team. They are going to be very difficult to achieve. The Pens are not going to pay Fleury $5 million a year to play spectacularly in Penguin losses.

    Jason Spezza is another player whose contract was packed with easy to achieve bonuses. How many of them will he achieve? In the past ten years, one player - Ilya Kovalchuk - has cashed in all of his bonuses.

    Fleury is another guy who got bad advice. He would have been far better off without any bonus provisions in his contract.

    Tom
     
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