Five interesting upcoming NHL arbitration cases, including Vladimir Sobotka, Ryan O’Reilly and James Reimer. 

Chris Kreider among several NHL players facing arbitration hearings this week.

Chris Kreider among several NHL players facing arbitration hearings this week.

NHLPA: NHL salary arbitration hearings are set to begin this week in Toronto. Two hearings slated for today are Toronto’s Cody Franson and St. Louis’ Vladimir Sobotka. Dallas’ Antoine Roussel’s hearing will be held on July 22. Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly’s and New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider’s respective hearings are slated for Wednesday, July 23.  Montreal’s Lars Eller and the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello have hearings slated for Friday, July 25.

USA TODAY: Mike Brehm lists five interesting arbitration cases, including those for Sobotka, O’Reilly, Kreider and Zuccarello.  With Sobotka having jumped to the KHL for next season, his hearing today will determine how much he’ll receive if he returns from Russia. James Reimer (July 28) was earning $1.6 million last season with a cap hit of $1.8 million. Brehm noted Montreal’s P.K. Subban is the most prominent defenseman to hit arbitration since Nashville’s Shea Weber in 2011.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeremy Rutherford believes Sobotka’s hearing today could determine if he ever wears a Blues uniform again, as he could decide not to return to the NHL unless the Blues trade him. Sobotka’s agent claims his client recently asked to be traded when an agreement couldn’t be reached on a new contract before he signed with the KHL. In a recent interview with a Czech sports website, Sobotka said his plan is to play a season in the KHL and return to the NHL with a different team. He claimed he had no choice but to sign with Avangard Omsk because the Blues refused to trade him. The Blues best offer was a one-year, $2.7 million contract. Sobotka sought a one-year deal worth $3 million, after which he’d become an unrestricted free agent. The club also made a two-year, $6 million offer but it wasn’t accepted. Sobotka’s three-year KHL contract pays him slightly more than $4 million per season, and continues an “out clause” at the end of each season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In recent years most players re-sign with their respective teams before their arbitration hearings.  Of the 23 players scheduled for arbitration hearings this year, six have already reached agreements on new contracts with their teams. It will be interesting to see how many more do so.

Sounds like Sobotka’s relationship with Blues management has been seriously damaged.  Franson and the Leafs  are reportedly $2 million apart in salary. O’Reilly almost certainly seems to be heading to arbitration on Wednesday. I believe the Canadiens will re-sign Subban and Eller before their arbitration hearings. Ditto the Rangers with Kreider, Zuccarello and Derick Brassard.