On the anniversary of his broken back, Mason Raymond gets the gift of salary arbitration

It’s been a rough 12 months for Mason Raymond. As you might recall, on June 13 of last year, Raymond entered Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final and came out not with a Cup ring, but rather, with a broken back. Then, after successfully working his way back to health, his return was put off because Alain Vigneault was riding a hot team, then further put off when the Canucks made a paperwork error. Then, once he finally did get back into the lineup, he struggled to produce and spent the next 4 months as the whipping boy of Canuck fans everywhere.

And now, just to really make these last 12 months a year to remember, on the one-year anniversary of his vertebral fracture, the Canucks have elected to take Raymond to arbitration, where they will argue he’s not worth his qualifying offer.

Worst. Year. Ever.

Darren Dreger broke the news via Twitter:

 

Now, there’s some confusion as to what, exactly, “cutdown” arbitration is, but don’t be scared by the new adjective, especially since it’s pretty well superfluous (like saying “Sahara desert” when “Sahara” means “desert”). Raymond is really just being taken to standard club-elected arbitration, although there is a minor departure from the scenario we usually see.

In most cases, arbitration comes after the team has submitted a qualifying offer to retain a restricted free agent, guaranteeing a certain base salary. (In Raymond’s case, this qualifying offer would have been the same as his $2.6 million cap hit from last year.) Then, if the player and the club can’t agree to the terms of a new contract, either party can take the case to an arbitrator.

However, in rarer instances, if a team wants to retain a restricted free agent but they want pay him less than he made the year prior, they can take him to arbitration in lieu of his qualifying offer, rather than after they submit it.

This makes sense for the Canucks and Raymond. Undoubtedly, the winger failed to live up to the expectations of the $5.1 million they gave him over the past two years, and the Canucks are reasonable to be opposed to paying him the same amount again. But they still like him and want him on the team, especially since keeping Raymond was a stipulation of Alain Vigneault’s contract. (I’m kidding…. I think.)

Raymond’s defensive game remains strong, and his offensive production was more than likely stalled by a few things, namely the loss of his spot on the first-unit powerplay, and also that whole “six weeks in a back brace” thing. Keeping Raymond in the fold is wisdom, especially since he’s versatile, he knows the system, he’s bound to improve on his 10-goal, 10-assist campaign, and he’ll likely come cheaper than an open-market replacement.

So how low can the arbitrator go? Not that low. The arbitrator can only grant a paycut of up to 15%, so at minimum, Raymond’s cap hit will be $2.2 million next season. Again, that’s at minimum. The arbitrator could award Raymond the same amount or more, and here’s the rub if he does: the Canucks are on the hook for it. Clubs can’t walk away from club-elected arbitrations. (You hold out your tray, and you’d better eat what the lunchlady gives ya.)

The Canucks can still trade Raymond, however, so this isn’t a guarantee that he’ll be back. But it’s certainly more likely now than it seemed late last season, when some were beginning to speculate that the club wouldn’t take any steps towards retaining Raymond at all.

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20 comments

  1. sarah
    June 13, 2012

    “Worst year ever” – What about baby Max?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      June 13, 2012

      I would suggest that the excitement of having a baby boy only narrowly cancels out the Hell of trying to keep him happy and alive for the first year. ;-)

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      Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
      • DanD
        June 13, 2012

        Dude, you need to tweet that. That’s gold Mooney! Gold!

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        Rating: +5 (from 7 votes)
  2. dunskym
    June 13, 2012

    2009-2010 Raymond sees regular pp time, scores 25 goals (could have been 30 if AV didn’t take him off). 2010-2012 Raymond sees almost no pp time, 15 and 10 goal seasons. If you want him to effective he has to be used in the right way, not playing defensive hockey on a line with Ryan “take a selfish shot and never pass” Kesler. Raymond takes so much unnecessary crap for absolutely no reason. Scoring 25 goals in 133 games playing almost exclusively 5 on 5 hockey is not too bad. Only reason Burrows scores as much as he does with no pp time is because he plays with the Sedins.

    Oh and did I mention he also came back from a broken back….

    Pretty good chance he won’t be back next year so I am looking really forward to seeing who will be the next scapegoat for the Vancouver fans.

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    Rating: +11 (from 23 votes)
  3. Locky
    June 13, 2012

    Even Raymond’s much maligned 10-11 campaign saw him on pace for 40 points with minimal PP time and an injury-hampered pre-season (wrist). This is not something one throws away for nothing. 2.2 would be excellent value for someone who can score 40 points mainly at 5 on 5 while shuffling wherever needed in the line-up. While I hope he doesn’t start on the 2nd line, a bottom six player with that kind of production is extremely useful.

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    Rating: +16 (from 16 votes)
  4. JS Topher
    June 13, 2012

    As much as he can frusrate me at times, I think a healthy summer of hard work (and a lil work on his balance) and a 2.2 mill cap hit might help the guy work his way into my good books again. He’s solid defensively when he’s not Bambi fallin’ everywhere.

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    Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
    • peanutflower
      June 13, 2012

      But it’s sort of like how many rush to the net down the side maybe make a shot maybe not players do the Canucks need? Isn’t Raymond now Booth Lite?

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      Rating: +4 (from 6 votes)
      • JS Topher
        June 14, 2012

        Almost a fair comparison but, it would be more fair to call them Offensive Booth and Defensive Booth. 1 goes on third line, the other on second. Now if you could get them to be consistent enough to move up a line (Booth with Twins and Ray with Kes and ?) then they won’t even be considered over paid!

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        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  5. jonesy
    June 13, 2012

    personally, i can’t take another year of the speedy raymond getting across the blue line before everyone else to fall down or slap at the puck with those hands of stone.

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    Rating: -5 (from 7 votes)
  6. SteveB
    June 13, 2012

    [standard CDC trade proposal] Raymond and a Third Round pick for Rick Nash[/standard CDC trade proposal]

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    Rating: +3 (from 7 votes)
  7. BigFan
    June 13, 2012

    Raymond’s peformance this last year was underwhelming for sure, but I’m going give kudos to Gillis for giving him another chance considering the adversity he has faced. Gillis may also be betting that the officiating will favor a more open style of game next year, in which case Raymond would by default become a more effective player by virtue of his speed.

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    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  8. Brent
    June 14, 2012

    I hope they keep him and he isn’t offended by the salary cut.

    Call me crazy, but I think a team should be somewhat more that just the “business of hockey”. The guy was actually performing fairly well in the SCF (comparatively to the team anyway) and took a potentially career ending injury. I think you have to stick with him rather than discarding him like, well like,……Willie Mitchell.

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    • Abby W.
      June 14, 2012

      Hear hear! These are my thoughts exactly.

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      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  9. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    June 14, 2012

    The conventional, collective Canuck fans’ wisdom (hereinafter “CCCF wisdom”) states that Raymond was good in 09-10, then “sucked” in each of the following two seasons. As noted by a couple posters last year, and corroborated by the Statheads, he was equally good in 2010-11 as the season below in terms of driving play — he just didn’t get the PP time (or, if I recall, as much PDO luck).

    So this means that his only true down year was last season, not the one before. And as we know, we have to eye that season with some suspicion for the injury reason.

    That said, there is every, real reason to expect a decline in real performance, because it’s likely that his confidence is kind of shot, and that his offensive role may diminish further with a guy like Booth now on the team. Plus his injury will very likely have some longer-term repercussions. So even if the Canucks weren’t just trying to keep their costs down, they would be correct to at least half-assume a downward trend rather than writing off last year entirely.

    What they’re doing seems like the way to go, and if I’m Raymond, I grab that offer and shove it under my mattress as fast as possible (can he do this? Are they able to settle this way without actually undergoing the arbitration procedure?) It’s not a huge paycut on the one hand, and it is unequivocally more than he would get on the UFA market, I think.

    As you say, a trade may still be coming, but it won’t be a ‘hockey trade’ around him, it’ll be him as a throw-in in either the goalie trade, something else, or just a simple salary dump.

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    • Kenji
      June 14, 2012

      Well, suckage is relative. (That’s what she said.)

      Raymond not only had a bad season compared to his uninjured self, Canuck fans were treated to the spectacle of Grabner, the man that was thought expendable because we had a speedy offensive winger named Raymond, lighting up the league, for a relative pittance.

      Captain Hindsight leads the anti-cheering section a good half the time.

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  10. akidd
    June 14, 2012

    yup, raymond sure caught a lot of flack. the short memory crew seemed to have completely forgotten that dude was REHABBING FROM A BROKEN BACK which he got fighting for the cause in the trenches…so to speak.

    a dismal season for sure. the mental game wasn’t there either but mind and body work together. so this salary arbitration is definitely the right move. otherwise it’s just throwing away an asset.

    good to see the canucks being loyal to a core player who was injured in the line of fire and give him a chance to get back on track. and like others here, i too lament that they didn’t show willie the same consideration.

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    • Kenji
      June 15, 2012

      Willie was unrestricted. The Canucks offered him a deal. They just didn’t give him the best deal, which maybe shows lack of prognosticative (is that a word?) acumen but not lack of consideration. Methinks.

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  11. guest
    June 14, 2012

    At least I don’t need to make a new Canucks drinking game.

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  12. Rob
    June 14, 2012

    I agree. He’s been a good soldier, before and after his injury. I’m amazed that he has retained his speed after that injury, and a summer of rest and training won’t hurt. Whatever may be said, he gets the puck up the ice in a hurry, and backs up the defense. Of course we all want him to charge the net. Maybe he will. I’m still pissed at how lightly his injury was treated. I don’t know at which level he was injured, but a compression fracture is no minor thing, and doesn’t happen from hitting the boards. It takes significant axial (downward) force as well as flexion (forward bending) force, for that fracture to happen. He had to be subjected to a very forceable downward, bending hit. Kind of like a big defenseman running him backwards into the boards while forcing him into a bent position.

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  13. BakerGeorgeT
    June 14, 2012

    Sounds like a lot of excuses for Raymond. I just pulled out my cyber-keanu-matrix statistics that says May Ray purposelessly falls down heck of a lot on his own accord or a professinonal Hockey player. Tired of seeing it. But hey, let’s pay him 2 million because he has tough luck. (that’s right, I am heartless on the Internet)

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