Tomas Fleischmann

With Tomas Fleischmann’s arbitration hearing looming in the next few days it doesn’t look like the two sides will come to an agreement beforehand. GMGM moved pretty swiftly to avoid the courtroom drama with Fehr and Schultz indicating, at least to this writer, that the two sides are VERY far apart.

My guess is GMGM is taking the “show me you can do this again” attitude while Fleischmann is trying to cash in on what could be his peak season statistically. Either way, we are looking at arbitration. While it isn’t exactly Judge Judy, the player and team each propose a salary for the coming season and argue their cases at a hearing. The arbitrator, a neutral third party, then sets the player’s salary.

The evidence that can be used in arbitration cases:

  • The player’s “overall performance” including statistics in all previous seasons.
  • Injuries, illnesses and the number of games played.
  • The player’s length of service with the team and in the NHL.
  • The player’s “overall contribution” to the team’s success or failure.
  • The player’s “special qualities of leadership or public appeal.”
  • The performance and salary of any player alleged to be “comparable” to the player in the dispute.

Evidence that is not admissible:

  • The salary and performance of a “comparable” player who signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent.
  • Testimonials, video and media reports.
  • The financial state of the team.
  • The salary cap and the state of the team’s payroll.

NHL Arbitration Explained

Tomas Fleischmann was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2nd round (63rd overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. In February 2004 Flash was traded to the Capitals by Detroit along with Detroit’s 1st round choice in 2004 (which was used to draft Mike Green) and their 4th round choice in 2006 for Robert Lang.

As a prospect he was (aptly) described as a “flashy winger with great offensive tools” while being graded as “not quite good enough to play on the top line or pairing on a regular basis, but still possessing enough talent to contribute offensively.”

For the fourth consecutive season, Fleischmann improved upon his regular season goal and point totals but continued to fall flat in the playoffs (three goals and two assists in 22 career NHL playoff games) where he finally became a healthy-scratch in Game 7.

Despite his awful playoff numbers we can expect a significant increase to his cap-friendly $725,000 salary last year. JP from Japer’s Rink has already gone on record predicting an arbitration award of $2.9 million and that the Capitals won’t walk from any award under $4 million. Personally I take the “over” on the $2.9, especially with the Atlanta Thrashers being forced to walk away from a $2.4 million salary arbitration award to forward Clarke MacArthur and the comparables likely to be used in the Fleischmann arbitration.

To find comparable players I did a search at Hockey-Reference for players who were between the ages of 25 and 27, had seasons of 20 or more goals (Fleischmann had 23 in ’09-10) and fewer than 60 points (Fleischmann had 51).

Before we narrow down that list we should keep in mind the salary and performance of a “comparable” player who signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent is not admissible.

Forwards who have had similar seasons to Fleischmann’s 2009-2010 campaign
(69 games, 23 Goals, 28 Assists, 51 points):

Joe Pavelski, F, San Jose Sharks

Joe Pavelski

67 Games, 25 Goals, 26 Assits, 51 Points

Pavelski, a 7th round pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft had almost no points after the first eight playoff games, but resigned with the Sharks for 4yrs/$16 million.

Alex Steen, F, St. Louis Blues


68 Games, 24 Goals, 23 Assists, 47 Points

The St. Louis Blues signed Alex Steen to a four-year contract extension (with an average value of $3.36mil) the summer after enjoying a bit of a breakout season with 24 goals last season.

Thomas Vanek, F, BUF


71 Games, 28 Goals, 25 Assists, 53 Points

Vanek was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1st round (5th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. While he has shown to be a much more prolific scorer than Fleischmann there is no denying that their ’09-10 campaigns were virtually identical on paper in the box score stats. Look for Evans to push the envelope and have his client ask for a near identical salary award to Vanek’s $6.4 million.

The average contract value of the list above is roughly $4.6mil. Now I am not suggesting that this is what Fleischmann is worth nor that this is the exhaustive list that will be used in arbitration. As a matter of fact, the page limit for evidence is 40 pages. Forty. Oh. So yea, there is going to be a lot of stuff thrown around. So think of this post more as a conversation starter until July 28th and let us know:

  1. What do you think Fleischmann will earn?
  2. Who do you think Fleischmann’s comparables are?
  • Cole

    these players that had statisticly the same season as flash make me think hes worth a litle more than what i thought he was before, but after the playoffs he had i see flash as a 3 million dollar player at the most, but im convinced he is a keeper! tomas fleishman is going to be a very good second line left winger in not too long

  • bucknelldad

    While Flush may be worth more than $725,000, if I were GMGM, he’s got better talent in the stables now — players who can blown off the puck like a feather; players who are willing to get in front of the net and battle in the corners, all things that are totally foreign to Flush. He may be a servicable 2nd line or 3rd line winger with some ability to play C in a crunch, but after two very disappointing playoffs, it’s time to cut him loose, or if arbitration comes under $2 mil, sign him and immediate trade him.

  • Addison

    Although it is inadmissible, Ive heard that Evans has been asking for money comparable to Tomas Plekanec (around $5 million). I don’t think they will award Flash that much but I don’t think that an award of $3.5-$4 million is out of the question. I would hope that Caps walk away from anything over $3.5 million, but I understand GMGM being unwilling to let an asset walk without getting anything in return. I think the best case scenario would be a 1 year contract that we could immediately trade, but I have a feeling we see Flash in red next season. If however, he is able to stay healthy and work out over the summer, put on some muscle, and get over his fear of working in the corners, that might not be a terrible scenario

  • sonja

    @bucknelldad “… but after two very disappointing playoffs, it’s time to cut him loose …” heh … by those standards, GMGM needs to get rid of the whole team. None of them have been able to perform in the playoffs over the last two seasons after having outstanding regular seasons. So that’s not terribly convincing.

    I think he’s worth keeping around for quite awhile … but then, his name is on the Caps sweater I purchased for wearing to games and while I watch them on tv, so I might be a little bit biased 😉

  • Josh

    The thing is he HAS been improving in the regular season the last few years, and I think he could be on the verge of a breakout playoff year. I’d like to see a 2 year/3-3.5 million per deal with a trade option. If he proves his value next season, extend the contract. If not, trade him in the off season. I’d hate to see him walk away and we get nothing in return.

  • Tim

    Vanek won’t work as a comparable, because the year leading up to his contract (which is what would be taken into account) he had 43-41-84. Steen certainly could though, and maybe Pavelski. Most likely, the arbitrator will give Flash far more than he’s worth – and I hope the Caps walk. Flash is not worth more than $2.5M to the Caps, but he might be worth $3M+ to other teams.

  • Pierre-Olivier

    keep in mind he scored 23 goals on the Caps, he would have never scored that much on another team.

  • @Tim – re: Vanek I thought he could be used as a comparable, but thanks for the heads up. Finding comparables is perhaps the hardest part of this exercise for a layman – the RFA contract data is not easy to find.


  • paidinfull

    Help me out here…
    [The salary and performance of a “comparable” player who signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent.]

    You just listed 3x players “who signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent”…
    Why would any of these players stats and dollar amounts be used in the arbitration?

    The players that can be used as a reference in this negotiation are:

    Not even MacArthur who was awarded $2.4M can be used as a point of reference because… MacArthur is now a UFA since ATL decided to not accept the arbitration amount.

  • @paidinfull

    I just double checked Capgeek and it shows the 2009-10 EXPIRY STATUS for both Steen and Pvelski as RFA. Also, a quick google search also shows them as RFAs.

    I think, and I could be wrong, that Capgeek removes re-signed RFAs from that results link you posted.

    That being said: finding comparables is NOT easy, and while it is entirely possible I got them wrong, I don’t think I did in this case.

    Re: MacArthur – I never listed him as a comparable. I used it to illustrate an unusually high (IMO) award to a player.

    Thanks for reading!


  • JR

    His agent wanted Plekenac 2009 money ($2.75M), not 2010 money.

    He’s not coming in for more than that, I doubt they’re even asking for more than that. The guy contributes zero outside the score sheet. The team knows it and he knows it.

  • Tim

    Aside from here, I also read Japer’s Rink. They just did a mock arbitration with a good list of comparables – 10 in total. They used Perron and Wolski from ’09-’10 and Plekanec, Higgins, Wellwood, Prucha, Clowe, Tuumo Ruutu, Hudler, and Armstrong from ’08-’09. That’s a combined list from both sides. I’m sure there is probably more, but that’s who they went with.

    If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think Pavelski is a comparable because he was a UFA. Don’t know about Steen though.

  • paidinfull

    Sorry for the late response…
    I figured out what I missed.

    Pavelski is a RFA, he signed a 4 year deal at the end of which he will BECOME a UFA. (emphasis for my sake)

    I confused myself in thinking that when the deal(Pavelski) was signed the RFA status immediately changed to UFA, hence making them inadmissible. My mistake.