The second scheduled arbitration hearing this offseason will be Connor Brown of the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, meaning today was the day they needed to exchange filings. According to Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia, Brown’s camp has filed for $4.8MM, while the Senators have filed for $2.25MM. Because of his age, the contract can only be a maximum of one year in length.
It is important to remember that in the NHL, the arbitrator does not need to choose one filing or the other and usually instead awards a contract somewhere in the middle. The two sides can also come to an agreement in the coming days, though this year once the hearing begins they must wait for the reward and cannot settle while the arbitrator deliberates.
In Brown’s case, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic suggests that a contract similar to the one Kevin Labanc just signed with the San Jose Sharks could potentially be a comparable should the two sides settle before arbitration. Labanc signed a four-year deal that carries a $4.725MM cap hit, though LeBrun suggests $4.35MM “isn’t crazy to think” about for Brown.
A 20-goal scorer in 2016-17 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brown hasn’t yet reached that mark again in his four-year NHL career. He did see his point totals balloon in Ottawa though, recording a career-high 43 points this season while averaging more than 20 minutes a night. He was easily the teams most-used forward, especially on the penalty kill where he logged more than two and a half minutes a night.
It’s obvious that Brown has the coaching staff’s trust, and on a roster that will be made up mostly of prospect forwards, he is actually one of the most experienced at the age of 26.
Notably, if Brown does go through the arbitration process and receive a one-year contract, he will walk into unrestricted free agency next offseason at 27. Should he receive an award over $4,538,938, the team could also choose to walk away and make him a UFA this offseason instead.