Bruins inch closer to resolution with two key restricted free agents
Despite an early free-agency flurry, the Bruins still have their share of questions to sort out ahead of the 2023-24 season.
Two of those question marks are on the restricted free agency front, with both Trent Frederic and Jeremy Swayman in need of new contracts, and after what were career-best years from both. Monday saw both players inch closer to a resolution, too, with salary arbitration hearing dates finalized for both Frederic and Swayman. For Swayman, a potential salary arbitration hearing would come on July 30, while Frederic’s is scheduled for just two days later, on August 1.
Bruins arbitration hearing dates—— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) July 10, 2023
July 26: Ian Mitchell
July 30: Jeremy Swayman
Aug 1: Trent Frederic
(Defenseman Ian Mitchell, who also had a hearing date announced as part of the NHLPA-released schedule, settled with the Bruins on a one-year deal just hours after his July 26 date was announced.)
Before you run up and down Canal St. sounding panic alarms, this is simply the next step in what’s by all means a series of procedural moves before the sides can come to terms on a new deal. It was also the next logical step after all three players officially elected salary arbitration ahead of last week’s deadline.
The scheduled dates do not prevent the sides from continuing to negotiate a contract in the meantime.
Should the parties ultimately require arbitration, the camp of Frederic and Swayman will present a number to a neutral third party on behalf of their clients, while the Bruins will present their own case. The topics permitted to be brought up include the player’s production, their service time, and injury history. What’s important — or, at the very least, interesting — to note is that the Bruins will not be allowed to bring up their own cap situation in their case to the neutral third party, nor will the Bruins be able to bring up what they would view as comparable contracts regarding either player.
And if this goes to arbitration, it is worth noting that the Bruins wouldn’t be able to ‘walk away’ from the third party’s ruling unless the player is awarded a contract with an average annual value of over $4.54 million.
As a general rule of thumb, most teams and players like to avoid an arbitration hearing whenever possible. It can lead to an ugly relationship between the player and the team, as the team is essentially providing reasons why they don’t want to pay you.
Last summer, Pavel Zacha was the club’s lone player scheduled for a hearing, and if you’re looking for potential timeline comps from that, the Bruins and Zacha came to terms on a new deal three days before his scheduled hearing.
The Bruins, who currently have just under $7 million in available cap space, have also managed to avoid going to arbitration with any player since Don Sweeney took over as the team’s general manager in 2015.
A look at where every 2022-23 Bruins player landed in free agency