Vancouver Canucks seek to slash Mason Raymond’s salary in arbitration
Still, NHL club maintains speedy winger ‘is an important part of our team’
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks want winger Mason Raymond to take a pay cut.
The Canucks have invoked a rarely used provision of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement to file what some have labelled "cutdown arbitration" against Raymond.
Instead of tendering a qualifying offer to Raymond of $2.6 million — which is what he made last season — the Canucks hope to have his salary for next season reduced by as much as 15 per cent.
What this move means is that Raymond is guaranteed to make no less than $2.21 million next season.
"It is the first time to my knowledge this club has invoked salary arbitration and it is most assuredly the first time in the four years we have been here we have invoked salary arbitration," Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said Wednesday.
But Gilman stressed that Raymond is a player the Canucks still very much view as a valuable asset.
"If we didn't feel that Mason was worthwhile we would have not qualified him and allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1," Gilman said.
"Mason is an important part of our team and has been for five years. We obviously plan for Mason to be a component of this team going forward. And Mason has the full support of our organization through this process."
The Canucks' move did not come as a huge surprise to Raymond's agent, J.P. Barry. The two sides had talked in recent days and Barry said the Canucks had raised the possibility of seeking a pay cut via arbitration.
Barry called it a "rare provision" of the CBA and can only be used for players making more than $1.5 million per season.
"It's only been used once or twice before," he said. "But we were aware that this could be a possibility and I did have some discussion with Laurence about it the last few days and knew they were probably going to go in this direction."
Raymond has had two sub-par seasons after his 25-goal, 53-point campaign in 2009-10. His production fell to 15 goals and 39 points the following season and last season the 26-year-old had 10 goals and 20 points in 55 games. Raymond suffered a vertebrae compression fracture in Game 6 of last year's Stanley Cup Final when he was run into the boards by Boston defenceman Johnny Boychuk. He did not play again until Dec. 4 of this past season.
Barry thinks that serious injury clouds the upcoming arbitration session, for which a date will be set in early July.
"It is a unique case," he said. "We've got a player who suffered a significant injury and it makes the case somewhat cloudy."
The arbitration process will be the same as when a player files against a team, which is normally the case. Each side will present a number to the arbitrator and the Canucks can't file for anything lower than a 15-per-cent cut.
"They can file at 2.21 (million), which I fully expect they will, and we could argue for no pay cut, a raise or anything in between," Barry said. "It doesn't mean absolutely that the player will get a cut for sure. It just means the club believes this is a player that could be subject to a cut."
By filing against the player, the Canucks lose their walkaway rights. In other words, they must live with whatever decision the arbitrator renders.
"Mason is unrestricted next year so they can only go one year on him and
they don't have walkaway rights, so at the end of the day Mason Raymond is going to be making at minimum $2.21 million," Barry said.
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