Though Iâ€™m quite aware of theÂ upcoming contract negotiations between Brian Burke and recent overachiever Clarke MacArthur,Â I’ve yetÂ to give it too much thought until now.
MacArthur is one of five of the teamâ€™s restricted free agents, including Luke Schenn, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson and James Reimer.
Usually when the conversation arose about hisÂ pendingÂ newÂ deal I just passed it off with â€œYeah, heâ€™ll get a raise likeÂ Kulemin’s or something.â€
What was I thinking? Clearly Iâ€™m an idiot.
Comparing MacArthurâ€™s negotiations to Kulemin last summer is basically useless. In fact, itâ€™s pretty tough to find many comparisons that make a lot of sense, given the sudden surge of points from Mac-A this past season.
If MacArthur were on an entry level contract and suddenly broke out, it would be a different story. But heâ€™s been around a little while â€“ a 26 year old with parts of five NHL seasons under his belt. In fact, he actually had to take a paycut from 1.4 million to 1.1 just to sign with the Leafs.
Perhaps we could look at his other linemate as a comparable. Mikhail Grabovski was rewarded with a 2.9 million dollar contract coming off a 48 point campaign in 2008-09. While his value to the Leafs in unquestionably higher than MacArthur, heâ€™s yet to score more points in a single season thanÂ MacArthur’s 62 this past year.
MacArthurâ€™s enormous jump in point total is, for the most part, due to a major increase in assists. With 41 this past season, his assist total eclipsed even his highest point total previously (35). So itâ€™s quite possible (or, absolutely certain) that his climb in pointsÂ is due to playing on a strong line with two great goal scorers.
During the 2009-10 season with both the Sabres and Thrashers, MacArthur poured in sixteen goals. He improved on that number with the Leafs, but only by five. Still, contract negotiations will surely be a little strange regardless.
When you look at the fact that Nik Kulemin received a raise from 1.4 million to 2.3 million after only a 36 point season in 2010, itâ€™s difficult to imagine MacArthur expecting any less. But is he any more valuable than Kulemin? Definitely not.
Furthermore, can MacArthur expect any less than the three million being paid out to Colby Armstrong? After a 62 point season, how could he? Of course, everything isnâ€™t all about points. But they do help.
AnotherÂ decent comparison would probably be Tomas Fleischmann of the Colorado Avalanche.
After a solid outing with the Capitals in 2009-10 where he nabbed 51 points on a great offensive club, Fleischmann was rewarded with a one year contract to the tune of 2.6 million dollars. Similar in age to MacArthur (Fleischmann is only a year older), it seems the Czech-born centre is aÂ pretty goodÂ starting point when it comes to predicting the type of contract MacArthur will receive.
While I doubt that MacArthur wants to sign another one-year contract, I really donâ€™t see Burke going above two.
The Atlanta Thrashers walked away from a 2.4 million dollar arbitration award for MacArthur in 2010, paving the way for him to eventually wear blue and white. I donâ€™t expect him to garner much more than that in 2011, as heâ€™ll probably sign a two year contractÂ in the area ofÂ 2.7 – 2.9 million.
If things fall apart (doubtful) I’m sure Burke is under no real pressure to keep MacArthur around. As impressive as he’s been over the past season, I’m sure there are plenty of players eager to take his place.