Jun 222010

With 25 goals and 53 points, the 2009/2010 season was a breakout season of sorts for Mason Raymond. As luck would have it, it also happened to be his contract year. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are reports that Raymond, a restricted free agent, is expected to file for arbitration.

Compare and then shop. It’s the way of the NHL restricted free-agent world and that scenario is expected to play out with the Vancouver Canucks and Mason Raymond. Following a career 25-goal, 53-point season, the speedy left winger is in line for a healthy raise on his expiring $760,000 US salary that carried a salary cap hit of $883,000. And with the 24-year-old Cochrane, Alta. native expected to file for arbitration, other restricted-free agent contracts could determine whether the club and the player come to terms before an arbitration hearing.

As for comparables, one that makes sense is the two-year, $4.6 million deal that New York Rangers winger Ryan Callahan agreed to last summer to avoid arbitration. He earned $2.2 million last season and will make $2.4 million next season. He was coming off a 22-goal, 40-point season when he signed that extension.

There were concerns going into the off-season that Raymond would be prone to an offer sheet. By last year’s numbers, teams could’ve thrown a $3 million/year contract at him – not a bad contract for a young, fast and still improving 24-year old, 25-goal scorer – and the compensation would’ve only been a second round draft pick. But Raymond filing for arbitration (if he does) may actually be a good thing for the Canucks because by his doing so, the CBA dictates that he can only negotiate with the Canucks prior to his arbitration hearing – that means he can’t sign an offer sheet from another team.

In the above article, Ben Kuzma mentioned Ryan Callahan as a potential comparable. Here are some other 2009 RFAs who scored 20+ goals and 50+ points and what they signed for last summer:

PlayerTeamPosGPG-A-PContractCap Hit
Mason RaymondVANL8225G-28A-53PRFARFA
Travis ZajacNJDC8220G-42A-62P4-yrs/$15.5 million$3.89 million
David BoothFLAL7231G-29A-60P6-yrs/$25.5 million$4.25 million
Jiri HudlerDETC8223G-34A-57P2-yrs/$5.75 million$2.875 million
Kris VersteegCHIL7822G-31A-53P3-yrs/$9.25 million$3.083 million
Ryane CloweSJSL7122G-30A-52P4-yrs/$14.5 million$3.625 million
Mikhail GrabovskiTORC7820G-28A-48P3-yrs/$8.7 million$2.9 million
Dave BollandCHIC8119G-28A-47P5-yrs/$16.875 million$3.375 million

Worth noting from this group are that Hudler’s contract was awarded to him in arbitration, and Zajac’s, Booth’s, Clowe’s and Bolland’s contracts include at least one year of which they would have been unrestricted free agents. (I believe Raymond is eligible to become a UFA after the 2011/2012 season.)

As a Canucks fan, I’d like to think that Raymond would sign for 2 years in the $2.5 million/year range. However, his numbers, the market and salary arbitration may say he deserves more.

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