Oh, to be a fly on the wall during Salary Arbitration. Today we have Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals leading off, with Ray Emery's hearing coming tomorrow.
What the Capitals might say: Eight goals? You're taking us to arbitration after scoring eight goals on 119 shots? That's one of the worst
shooting percentages in the league for a centerman, and it's not like you just had a down year, as 2005-6 looked pretty much the same. Using Behind the Net's On/Off-Ice Plus-Minus figures, it looks like the Caps fare only marginally better when Laich is on the ice. We can't see raising last year's salary of $606,000 by a significant amount.
What Brooks Laich might say: I'm developing into the defensive-minded center that can help hold down a late lead (where the Caps need help) by preventing opposing shots after faceoffs in our own zone. That is an area I've improved in since last year, and I've emerged as one of the league's best in that regard. Along with that, I was 15th among NHL centers in terms of Blocked Shots, trailing a number of players who received significantly more ice time. You've got other guys to shoot the puck - the Caps need someone who can help turn some of those Ovechkin highlights into points in the standings.
What the arbitrator might say: Boy, talk about starting the Arbitration Season off with an exhibition match. Those defensive aspects are somewhat noteworthy, so let's give him $700,000 and call it a day. Next time, kid, score some goals before you roll the dice like this again. If a center can't hit double-digits in goals, chances are he'll never get a seven-figure salary.