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Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong concluded a major piece of summer business when he signed top prospect Logan Cooley to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday. There are still a couple of finishing touches that he would like to add to that major piece of news.
Restricted free-agent forwards Jack McBain and Jan Jeník remain unsigned. If the Coyotes sign both, they will be at the maximum of 50 contracts, not including forward Conor Geekie and defenseman Maveric Lamoureux, who are expected to return to their respective junior teams for another season.
Jeník did not accept his qualifying offer of $787,500 earlier this month and his agent, Allan Walsh, put out the following tweet a day before that decision was made.
Walsh did not return messages left for him so his full views on the impasse are unclear. Jeník, who will turn 23 on Sept. 15., does not have a lot of leverage in the current situation. He has played just 17 NHL games with the Coyotes. The 2018 third-round pick (No. 65) has played the majority of the past three seasons in Tucson (AHL), amassing 30 goals and 84 points in 110 games while battling the injury bug.
If Jeník does not sign with the Coyotes, he has four options:
- He can sit out, not play and not get paid. If he does not sign with the Coyotes or another team by Dec. 1 he is ineligible to play in the NHL this season.
- He can hope that another NHL team signs him to an offer sheet that the Coyotes do not match.
- He can request a trade.
- He can play in Europe.
The Coyotes view McBain, 23, as a major part of this year’s forward roster after a rookie season with 12 goals and 26 points while averaging 13:59 of ice time per game. The sides are just at odds on how much he is worth. The Coyotes have their own comparables and McBain’s camp (Patrick Morris is his agent) have theirs.
It is always possible that the two camps will reach an agreement before McBain’s scheduled arbitration hearing on Sunday. Most cases do not reach that point, but two NHL cases have already gone to arbitration this summer.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov asked for $4.9 million in arbitration while the Toronto Maple Leafs filed for $2.4 million. He got one year at $3.55 million.
The Chicago Blackhawks offered forward Phillipp Kurashev two years at an average annual value of $1.4 million. Kurashev asked for one year at $2.65 million. An arbitrator awarded him a two-year, $4.5 million contract ($2.25 million AAV).
There is also the Coyotes’ recent history to consider. Lawson Crouse and the Coyotes agreed to a five-year contract extension with an average annual value of $4.3 million just moments before Crouse’s arbitration hearing was scheduled to start last summer.
The 2020 memorandum of understanding that extended the collective bargaining agreement through the 2025-26 season added an incentive for both sides to come to an agreement before the hearing. In the old CBA, the two sides could continue to negotiate after their hearing, right up until the arbitrator delivered his verdict. Now negotiations must end as soon as a hearing begins.
In the first three years after that alteration, just two cases went to hearings, but this summer, two cases reached the hearing stage in the first two days of the arbitration window.
Top photo of Jack McBain via Getty Images
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