Thursday, August 2, 2007

Craig Likely Headding to Arbitration


The Times had a good write up on the Ryan Craig situation. Looks like the sides are about $250K apart and will indeed end up in an arbitration hearing on Friday.

From the Times:

If the Lightning and forward Ryan Craig are going to avoid Friday's scheduled arbitration hearing in Toronto, they have some work to do.

While Craig said the sides are "communicating and talking," general manager Jay Feaster said, "I'm not overly optimistic right now," and added that a too-high arbitration award could prompt the team to try to trade the player.

"We've been pretty honest with his agent in terms of where it has to fit for us," Feaster said Wednesday.

Feaster declined to give specifics but it is believed Tampa Bay offered three years at $750,000 each, which would buy out one year of unrestricted free agency, while Craig proposed two years at about $1-million each.

The gap likely will widen in arbitration with Craig expected to ask for one year at about $1.2-million. The Lightning could counter at around $650,000.

A $1.2-million request would be strategic. It is the same amount Bruins forward Chuck Kobasew will make after getting five goals and 19 points in 50 games last season. Craig had 14 goals, 27 points in 72 games.

The collective bargaining agreement also says teams this season can walk away only from awards in excess of $1.221-million. And while arbitrators can award any amount they deem appropriate, an award for more than a player requests is highly unlikely.

Even if Craig, 25, slotted on the fourth line and the power play, gets all he wants, Feaster said there are no guarantees he will be with the Lightning.

The team has committed $42.816-million of the $44-million it has said is available for salaries.

"So we're going to wait until the arbitration decision comes in and if it's a number that doesn't work for us in our budget, then we'll have to look at other options, including moving the player," Feaster said.

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