It’s rare that we see a team elect salary arbitration with a player but even rarer that it happens twice in the same year. That is indeed the case, however, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports (Twitter link) that the Flyers have elected arbitration with defenseman Travis Sanheim. He joins Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala as those that were taken to arbitration today.
Sanheim is a particularly interesting case. Two years ago, he was coming off a breakout season that saw him collect 35 points in 82 games but with his limited track record at the time, the two sides agreed on a two-year bridge contract that carried a $3.25MM AAV. The expectation was that the deal would quickly become a bargain and that the now-25-year-old would be in line for a significant raise at its expiration.
However, that hasn’t exactly been the case. Sanheim is coming off somewhat of a disappointing season, one that saw him notch just three goals with a dozen assists in 55 games despite averaging a career-high 21:53 per game. When you factor in the 2019-20 campaign, he had 40 points in 124 games on his bridge deal. Those numbers aren’t poor by any stretch but they’re also not numbers that should land a player the significant raise that it seemed like he’d be headed for two years ago.
While the filing will guarantee that Sanheim will be signed by the end of the month, it also permits him the opportunity to select the term of the contract should it get to a hearing. Arbitration awards can only be one or two years so Sanheim could opt for the latter which would take him to UFA eligibility in the 2023 offseason. A hearing will now be scheduled between August 11th and 26th but a deal can be agreed upon up until the beginning of the hearing; it used to be that a settlement could be reached at any time but that rule was changed in the last CBA.
Sometimes you need to put a deadline out there to really get a fire lit on negotiations.