The Carolina Hurricanes have avoided arbitration with defenseman Gustav Forsling. PuckPedia and CapFriendly are both reporting that the two sides have come to terms on a one-year, two-way contract. The deal carries the minimum $700K NHL salary and a $250K AHL salary. Forsling had been scheduled for a salary arbitration hearing on November 7th.
If Forsling’s case had reached a hearing, it would have been a fascinating argument – at least from the player side. The most critical part of any arbitration case is the platform season, and Forsling did not play a single game in 2019-20. The 24-year-old defenseman was fully healthy, but simply not good enough to crack the Hurricanes’ lineup. He saw NHL action with the Chicago Blackhawks in each of the three years prior to being traded last summer, but has never played more than 43 games in any season. It would have had to have been quite the argument to convince an arbitrator that Forsling was worth more than a minimum salary. Instead, Forsling’s camp likely filed for arbitration with the primary intention of arguing that he was at least worth a one-way contract. Even that case might have been a stretch, so he has agreed to a two-way deal with a sizeable AHL salary.
Forsling’s odds of improving his case before next off-season, when he will again be an RFA with arbitration rights, seem slim. The Hurricanes currently have five established veteran defenseman on the NHL roster, other RFA’s still to sign in Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown, a prospect pushing for time in Jake Bean, and just added a superior depth option in Joakim Ryan. Forsling would need several things to go his way to see NHL action this coming season.
Forsling’s arbitration case was the least of the Hurricanes’ worries. The team still has Fleury and forward Warren Foegele slated for hearings and there is much more on the line with that pair. CapFriendly projects Carolina to have just under $4.5MM in cap space with a current roster of 20, so the ’Canes may need to get creative (or make a move) to add Fleury, Foegele, and one more body to the roster without going over the cap. If the teams deals from their depth on the blue line, they may be able to move considerable salary. Forsling would stand to benefit from such a move as well.