Seattle Kraken defensemen Vince Dunn, Will Borgen, and Cale Fleury all filed for salary arbitration on Wednesday. Forward Kole Lind did not.
There seemed to be a panicky knee-jerk reaction among some of the Kraken faithful in the social media world, when in fact this is a necessary step in the restricted free agent (RFA) process and more often than not a formality.
Filing for salary arbitration simply protects the player should negotiations breakdown and a resolution between agent and team can’t be found. Rarely do events lead to an actual hearing.
Even rarer is club-elected salary arbitration, about 5% of filings. Notification for that is 5 pm eastern on Thursday.
Last year only one player out of 26 ended up getting his salary determined by a 3rd-party arbitrator, while two years ago none of the twenty filings actually made it to a hearing.
Filing for arbitration also forces a resolution one way or another, whether it’s a negotiated deal or one that’s arbitrated. Either way the player and the team know where they stand entering the very next season.
In the case of Dunn, one should expect to see the Kraken hoping to finalize a long-term deal prior to the hearing date which will be set inside a window that runs from July 20th to August 4th.
The 26-year-old, top pair lefty, working with partner Adam Larsson, set new career highs in goals, assists, and points, almost doubling his previous career high in that last category. He finished with 64 points, having twice previously finished seasons with 35.
Dunn made $4-million per season over the last two years in Seattle and should see a bump up to between $7 and $7.5-million per season. Maybe a bit more considering the salary cap is expected to go up substantially next season and Dunn’s agent Pat Morris will be thinking ahead.
Another reason the price could be somewhat higher: Dunn is just one-year away from unrestricted free agency status. A short term deal or a little bridge contract might be more desirable for him as it opens the door to the UFA market sooner. If the Kraken want max term, they’ll have to pony up.
Just how badly Dunn wants to stay in Seattle will also factor into that equation. It should be a desirable location for his hockey business for two strong reasons: the team is trending up and Washington is free of income tax.
That benefits the Kraken in negotiations.
Morris of Newport Sports, who somehow managed to get Lou Lamoriello of the Islanders to give forward Bo Horvat an eight-year deal for $68,000 total, will be diligent. He has hundreds of millions of dollars worth of current contracts.
The term of the contract also comes down to just how much faith Kraken GM Ron Francis has in Dunn repeating his break-out performance over and over again.
Borgen And Fleury
These are much different animals than Dunn. Salary arbitration wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the Kraken in terms of costs with these guys, but why let it get to that point. One would think a resolution would be well within reach for Borgen, who improved dramatically this past season and is just finding his game, while Fleury is essentially a reserve.
Fleury is coming off a two-way contract that paid him the league minimum while at the NHL level.
Borgen was on a one-way that paid him $900,000.
As a regular at this point, the 26-year-old, right-shot on the 3rd pair should see a bump in pay, topping out between $1.5 and $1.65-million a year. Borgen played in all 82 games last season, chipping in three goals and adding 17 assists.
He was the 4th-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2015.
All three of these defensemen were expansion draft acquisitions by the Kraken in 2021. Borgen from the Sabres, Dunn from the St. Louis Blues and Fleury from the Montreal Canadiens.
Dunn won a Stanley Cup with the Blues as a 2nd-year player in 2019.