Maple Leafs sign Holzer, take Kulemin to arbitration

As per Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, the Toronto Maple Leafs have re-signed defenceman Korbinian Holzer to a one-year deal and filed for arbitration on winger Nikolay Kulemin. [Toronto Star]

With an obvious impasse in the Kulemin case, arbitration may be the right move for a player who is coming off a percentage-stained season. Kulemin scored just seven goals in 70 games after a 30-goal season the year prior, shooting just 6.5%, an obvious career-low.

As for Holzer, his strong play with the Toronto Marlies this season earned him a one-way contract.

Now, contrary to popular belief, the one-way contract does not guarantee Holzer a spot with the Maple Leafs. He is still waivers-exempt, the one-way deal simply means he’ll make the same payday with the Marlies as he will with the Maple Leafs this season. Still, it’s a nice reward. He’ll make a big raise on his $62,500 contract from last season.

Onto Kulemin. Arbitration was best explained in this post by Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck last season. Since the Maple Leafs elected arbitration, which is sometimes called “cut down” arbitration because it allows the Leafs to slash 15% of Kulemin’s salary if they win their case, the same rules apply from last season when the Predators took Shea Weber to court:

The starting point here is to determine which party got things headed in this direction. In this case, the Predators asked for arbitration, which has two main implications:

  • The party on the receiving end of the arbitration filing (in this case the player) gets to choose whether the contract to be awarded will be for one year, or two. (Section 12.9 c of the CBA).
  • Unlike what ESPN and The Sporting News have reported, the team does not have the right to walk away from the arbiter’s decision if the salary is too high for their liking, because they’re the ones who requested this process (12.10 e).

The rest is moderately straightforward. Only official stats taken by the NHL may be used, so it’s not like the Kulemin camp is allowed to use Kulemin’s strong possession numbers as a reason to get more salary. This benefits the Leafs, as Kulemin is coming off a pretty unlucky year. He will no doubt choose for the one-year deal and use this season as a try-out to leverage for a longer term deal next summer.

Other criteria are “length of service” “overall contribution to the player’s club” and “special qualities of public appeal”.

The date is scheduled for August 4. The Vancouver Canucks came to an extension today with their embattled winger Monday, Mason Raymond, whom they had previously elected to take to team arbitration. The sides avoided it.

I have a feeling that commenters on the Barilkosphere will be kinder than the commenters on the Smylosphere when it comes to Kulemin than to Raymond, however.

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  • Moe Green

    Going to arbitration in this situation just seems to make sense. Kulemin didn’t necessarily play bad this year… he had games where he stood out, and he maintained a decent two way presence. But the bounces didn’t seem to go his way this year and his offensive numbers were awful as a result. Both parties need to protect their interests: Kulemin for himself and Burke for the realities of the Leafs… Let the judge decide and hopefully there won’t be any bitterness between the two.

    Ideally it would be nice to see him stay at 2.5 for another year. He’s lack of output should cancel out any sort of inflation. Keep him at the same level.