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Arbitration Is Looming For The Rangers, Should You Be Worried?

Three very key RFAs have arbitration hearings this week. Should you be worried that we haven't heard anything about the negotiations?

Bruce Bennett

This might be the first time I ever write this, but I'm actually surprised there isn't more panic about the looming arbitration dates for Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello.

If you need a refresher, here are the players and scheduled hearings:

Brassard - July 28th, 2014
Zuccarello - July 25th, 2014
Kreider - July 23rd, 2014

Back when we took a deeper look at arbitration and what it might mean to the New York Rangers, we talked a lot about bridge deals. Kreider is the only player of the three who is coming off his ELC, which means he's the only player of the three Glen Sather is probably going to try and give a bridge deal to.

From that story:

[Bridge deals are] a negotiating strategy where the Rangers have a ton of leverage and a clear precedent set. Sometimes a player (Ryan McDonagh) bucks the trend, but he is the exception, not the norm. For the Rangers it's a way to make sure they're keeping their younger talent cheaper while the team has the leverage. For the player, it's a frustrating reality they have to live with.

Whether or not Kreider will buck the trend is a different matter entirely, but my guess is he won't. It should, however, be noted the Rangers were able to lock McDonagh up on a long-term deal for an amazing term because they didn't give him a bridge deal, but again, he's the exception not the norm.

A lot of people might start to panic, thinking about the most recent holdout Derek Stepan (and how it hurt his first quarter of the season) or the bad blood created by the Dubinsky holdout. There's one tremendous difference here: Kreider is headed to arbitration if the two sides don't agree on a new deal.

With Stepan last year, there was no arbitration to solve the problem. Remember, if the two sides go to arbitration there will be a salary solution, and the team has the option to take the deal or walk away (making the player an UFA). There are no other options.

So no, there will be no holdouts with the above three. John Moore could hold out if he wanted to, but my guess is his negotiations won't get that ugly.

Until Monday, we hadn't heard a thing about the Kreider negotiations. We've heard a little big about how talks are "going good" with Zuccarello, and a few reporters have given us an idea of where Brassard is looking to come in as well. Nothing has leaked about the Kreider negotiations. Not even if Sather is giving him a bridge deal or if he's looking to buck the trend.

That might actually be a reassuring thing. If you remember, when the negotiations between Stepan and Dubinsky got ugly, details leaked out to the media. When no one hears anything about the negotiations, that's usually when the Rangers make an announcement that they've come to terms. Remember Carl Hagelin last year? That extension came out of nowhere, so don't think things aren't moving below the surface just because we can't see them.

Last year the Rangers avoided arbitration with Zuccarello on an 11th hour deal. I don't expect any of these negotiations to get that close again. I would also be shocked if any of the three went to arbitration, it's just not helpful for either side.

Keep up the good work not panicking about this, guys! Arbitration does make it a little easier since there can't be any holdouts, but arbitration can get really ugly, too. Hopefully all three avoid it. My guess is we see a deal with Kreider around the time this is published.