Tomorrow will be August 1 which means summer's starting to wane, NHL training camps are getting closer and...arbitration hearings will continue.
The Buffalo Sabres have three hearings left with players who filed for arbitration:
--F, Remi Elie (Aug. 1)
--G, Linus Ullmark (Aug. 2)
--D, Jake McCabe (Aug. 4)
All three players have issues heading into the hearings (if they go that far) which could mean the independent arbiter's decision could lean Buffalo's way.
Elie is up tomorrow and although we're not sure as of yet what he's asking, anything north of $800K (which represents a raise of over $100K) might be too much. Although it's hard not to love the determination with which the 24 yr. old plays the game, he just doesn't have the numbers to justify his present status of an AHL/NHL tweener who's best suited to a top-nine/six role with the Rochester Americans.
Although Elie is a strong defender, in 106 NHL games with Dallas and Buffalo over the past three seasons, he's managed only 22 points (7+15) which puts him in a group of checking/fourth-liners that includes Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Scott Wilson and Vladimir Sobotka. All four of them are signed to NHL deals and unless Elie has a remarkable camp, the only spot for him is in Rochester and when all's said and done on opening night, a one-way, $800K deal will place him amongst the highest paid players, on the Amerks.
This one's pretty easy.
Ullmark is up on Friday and word from Elliotte Friedman is that the Sabres are offering $800K while with the 26 yr. old goalie shooting for $2.65 million.
That's a pretty big difference and had Ullmark been able to sustain his numbers from the first half of the season over the second half, his figure would be right in the ball park. However, it was a tale of two seasons for both the Sabres and Ullmark and in a chicken/egg scenario, we're not sure who bore the brunt of a team record that was the worst in the NHL post Christmas break.
Ullmark is as loveable as his @Icebeardude twitter handle and Sabreland would really like to see him continue to climb up the ranks into a bona fide starter but his struggles in the second half of the season gave everyone pause. From the start of the season until Christmas, Ullmark sported a very solid 13-8-1 record with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. However after the break his numbers plummeted as he went 8-13-2 with a 3.20 GAA and .899 Sv%.
An easily defendable argument as to why his numbers plummeted was the play in front of him as starting goalie Carter Hutton had numbers worse than that and anyone watching on a nightly basis saw a defense in front of those two that resembled the Keystone Cops.
And there's the rub. Was it Ullmark or the team in front of him that caused his numbers to plummet?
That will be for the arbiter to decide.
Ullmark has a lot of quality traits and in the end he did play in a career-high 37 games for the Sabres but on many occasions he certainly looked like a novice between the pipes. There's a lot to work on and he still has plenty of upside but it would be hard to see him land close to Hutton salary-wise simply because there's still plenty to prove.
However, a nice bump to the $1.8-2 million range isn't out of the question.