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Insider Only Comparing award given to Vladimir Sobotka to Nick Spaling’s “potential” arbitration case next week

One trend from NHL teams this summer has been giving 2-3 year deals to very limited 4th line players/defensemen who can provide some toughness, while players coming off down years but have actual upside and proved themselves in the past like David Booth, Steve Downie and Lee Stempniak, were forced to take paycuts and play on one year prove it deals.
Deryk Engelland (3 years – $8.7 million) and Tanner Glass (3 years – $4.3 million) headline the group of players who secured surprising deals and long-term security, both receiving three year deals, while Downie a former 20 goal scorer joined Pittsburgh one a one year deal worth $1 million, and Stempniak a proven NHL player capable of 12-15 goals signed a one year, $900,000 deal with the New York Rangers over the weekend.
David Booth a former 30 goal scorer was the latest to take a prove it deal this week, agreeing to a one year, $1.1 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The Penguins had discussions with Booth’s camp in recent weeks and there was interest from Booth in Pittsburgh but the Penguins never moved on him.
Will Penguins avoid first arbitration case since 2005?

The Penguins have not had an arbitration case since August 2005 when Dick Tarnstrom was awarded $1.6 million. Nick Spaling’s hearing is not for eight days until July 31 as there is plenty of time to reach an agreement before. Pittsburgh made a two year offer last week to Spaling that was countered.
From the get-go, Spaling has been seeking at least $2.5 million per season on a short-term deal, sources say, and if Spaling and the Penguins go to arbitration, the plan for Spaling is to request around $3 million.
Vladimir Sobotka, 27, was awarded one year, $2.75 million on Monday after making $1.4 million in 2013-2014. He had 9 goals and 33 points in 61 games for the Blues. Sobotka who will play in the KHL this season, has 33 goals and 123 points in 381 career games.
Spaling, 25, had 13 goals and 32 points in 71 games for Nashville. Spaling has 44 goals in 297 career games. He made $1.5 million in 2013-2014.
Both players are strong penalty killers. Sobotka, though, was a superior possession player at 56.7%, Spaling was very poor at 45.3% and the entire Nashville team was a poor one. However, it’s not yet known how much arbitrators weigh the new advanced statistics.
If Spaling gets to arbitration which the Penguins hope to avoid, there will be a very good chance of him getting at least $2.5 million, while the Penguins have been trying to resign him for around $2 million.
The Penguins, though, don’t want this to go to arbitration. Feelings get hurt and it’s not ideal for a player who the Penguins think highly of and hasn’t even played a game with the team yet. Whether it’s a one or two year deal, look for the deal to be closer to Spaling’s asking price than the $1.5 million QO.
Notes: The Pittsburgh Penguins have named Jacques Martin Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations. According to the team, his duties will include monitoring NHL games, with an emphasis on eastern conference teams. Martin will report directly to Jim Rutherford.
Martin served as a third assistant coach last season on Dan Bylsma’s staff.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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