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Alex Galchenyuk files for salary arbitration

The forward activated the option that forces a deadline to negotiations. What’s next?

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk was among the 30 players who filed for player-elected salary arbitration with the league.

The two sides have reportedly been struggling to come within range of each others’ contract proposals, so the decision by the player to file was not surprising, forcing a deadline for a decision on a contract for next season.

It is the only arbitration case that General Manager Marc Bergevin will have to face, earlier having settled issues with the other seven arbitration-eligible players by either trading them (Beaulieu) or not offering them qualifying offers and releasing them to free agency (Nikita Nesterov, Stefan Matteau, Ryan Johnston, Mark MacMillan, Joel Hanley, and Keegan Lowe).

It’s worth noting that the organization did not choose to file for club-elected arbitration earlier in the summer during the first window. They probably won’t do so in the second window which starts on July 5th at 5:00PM, and ends on July 6th at 5:00PM.

What happens next?

For the immediate future both sides can continue to negotiate and try to come to an amicable agreement prior to the arbitration hearing.

The league will set a date and time for the hearing with an arbitrator, which becomes the deadline for Galchenyuk and the Canadiens to come to an amicable agreement. Arbitration hearings are usually towards the end of July, into early August.

Election of Term

The Canadiens, as the party who the salary arbitration was filed against, can choose whether the contract the Arbitrator will award is one or two seasons long. By default the decision is for one year.

Agenda for the Hearing

As laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, here is the agenda, in order, for the arbitration hearing:

  • Affirmative case of the player and the NHLPA;
  • Affirmative case of the club and the league;
  • Rebuttal and closing arguments of the player and the NHLPA;
  • Rebuttal and closing arguments of the club and the league;
  • Subrebuttal by the Player and the NHLPA if new substantive issues are introduced for the first time during the club and league’s rebuttal case.

Arbitration Decision

Within 48 hours of the close of the hearing, the Arbitrator must issue his decision, which will contain:

  • The term of the Standard Player Contract
  • The NHL Salary to be paid to the player by the club
  • The inclusion of a minor league clause and the amount of minor league salary to be paid.
  • A brief statement of the reasons for the decision, including identification of any comparable contracts relied on.

Walk-Away Rights

The Canadiens don’t necessarily have to accept the contract as set forth by the arbitrator. Within 48 hours of the award from the Arbitrator, in the case of an award of more than $4,084,219 (source: capfriendly.com) for a one-year award, the Canadiens can notify Galchenyuk that they will not offer him the awarded contract. If they do that, Galchenyuk would become an Unrestricted Free Agent, free to negotiate and sign with any team, with no compensation owed to the Canadiens.

If the Canadiens selected a two-year term and the award is more than $4,084,219, they can elect to walk away from the second year of the deal, and only offer a single-year contract. If they do that Galchenyuk would become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the season, one year sooner than normal.

As it stands Galchenyuk is two seasons away from Unrestricted Free Agency, earned after seven accrued seasons.