It’s official: when it comes to arbitration, Mason Raymond and Mike Gillis are just big teases.
For the second straight time, the two camps have settled out of court, with Raymond agreeing to a one-year contract worth $2.275 million. It’s a 12.5% paycut from last season, which is good news for fans for two reasons: first, because the Canucks now have a smidgen more cap space, and second, because the flexibility has to have returned to Raymond’s spine for him to bend that far backwards.
“At the end of the day, no one should feel sorry for me,” Raymond told the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap, hilariously. Trust me, MayRay, you definitely don’t have to tell Canucks fans not to feel sorry for you.
If the annual Canuck team awards featured a category for the player that takes the most unfair crap from fans, Raymond would be Roberto Luongo’s only competition. He does a lot of little things well, but the big thing — scoring goals — has severely dropped off since he signed his last deal, and when your best contributions take a super-collider to observe, people tend to get upset. This in mind, it’s no surprise that news of his signing has been met with a backlash. But, if it’s possible to put aside your immense hatred for the soft-spoken, tippy, baby-faced Albertan, you’ll see that this is a pretty sizable win for Gillis and Gilman. They made a risky attempt to trim Raymond’s salary, and they were met with almost no resistance.
With the Canucks’ announcement that they’d be taking Raymond to arbitration (known in Westeros as trial by battle), I expected a little pushback. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I find it troubling when my employer tells me I’m not worth the money I’m making. But by settling for such a substantial paycut well before the arbitration date, Raymond’s negotiations appear to have played out more like a woman telling her husband, “I’m leaving you, and I’m taking the cats,” and the husband responding, “Well, I don’t want to be alone, so could you leave a cat behind?”
Rather than push back, Raymond has facilitated a breakup by accepting a very movable deal. As part of a trade package, he could be very valuable, both because his bounceback is a distinct possibility and because, if it doesn’t happen, the team isn’t on the hook for more than one year.
And even if he stays, by agreeing to the single year contract, Raymond has both the opportunity and the motivation to make the Canucks pay next summer. Along with his contract, the restrictions on his free agency expire next next season, so if he manages that bounceback year in Vancouver, he’ll be in line to make a pretty penny on the inflated open market.
Plus, you know he’ll get every opportunity to have that bounceback year since Alain Vigneault treats his top six like a technologically inept cell phone user treats his top five. (They’re set, I don’t know how to change them, so leave me alone.) Frankly, I don’t know if another coach can appreciate and use Raymond as much as Vigneault does. It’s a great situation in which to play a contract year.
In the end, while the deal makes Raymond seem like a bit of a pushover, the deal puts him in a position to have the last laugh. And really, he is pretty easy to push overTags: arbitration teases, contract year, everybody loves raymond, Evil Raymond, gillis wins again, Raymond, raymond down