How Much for Mo?
As you know, the Caps and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn went through the salary arbitration process today in Toronto. Within the next day or two, we will learn Morrisonn’s salary for the 2008-09 season. The 25-year-old blueliner is the last remaining player unsigned by Washington for next season.
The arbitration process can be a bit murky for those of us who’ve never sat in on a session. Both sides use “comparables;” players they deem similar to the player in question. For the purposes of arbitration, those players are not necessarily comparables in the sense that they’ve played a similar number of games in the league and have posted similar numbers.
If that were the case, the Caps could say that Morrisonn is similar to Kurt Sauer in terms of stats and such. Sauer has four goals, 26 points and 214 PIM in 288 career NHL games. Morrisonn has six goals, 45 points and 278 PIM in 278 career games. Sauer recently signed a four-year deal with Phoenix, a contract that will pay him $1.75 million for each of the next four seasons.
And if the Caps were to use Sauer as a comparable (again, they can’t), the Morrisonn side might like to use Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik to bolster their own case. Orpik was chosen 18th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft; Morrisonn was chosen 19th overall in 2001. Orpik has four goals, 36 points and 392 PIM in 297 career NHL contests. Orpik recently re-signed with the Penguins for six years. His deal will pay him $3.75 million per season.
There is a huge difference between what Sauer and Orpik got on the open market this month. On the very surface, neither player seems terribly different from Morrisonn, either.
I’ve poked around a bit and I can’t find a guy that I can safely say would qualify as a Morrisonn comparable. In other words, a guy who earned his next RFA contract at the age of 25 and in doing so, had career numbers similar to what Morrisonn’s are right now.
Given the wide disparity in salaries for defensemen (and not just the two examples I used) it’s not surprising that the Caps and Morrisonn went to arbitration before ironing out a contract agreement on their own. As far as what the arbitrator decides, none of us has any idea, either. But we’ll know in a day or two. I’m thinking it could be anywhere between $1.5 and $2.5 million.