When Chase De Leo filed for arbitration in early July he put himself into an interesting position.
Let me first say that he was one of my favorite players to watch last season. I love his speed, hustle and tenacity on the fore-check. He deservedly earned a pay-raise, but, based on the history of players who have filed for arbitration with the team in the past, it’s possible his days with the Ducks organization are numbered.
Looking back over the history of players that have filed for arbitration in Anaheim paints a picture of mostly fondly remembered one-time Ducks, unrequited love and the odd “what could have been... sigh”.
The Jack Ferriera era
Jack Ferriera was the first GM of the Ducks and from looking back over the history of these deals, boy did he love to save a dime any which way that he could. It feels like almost every arbitration eligible RFA opted for arbitration under his watch. I am sure his hands were tied by the budget Disney had set - but wow, there were too many players to list so here are some of the highlights.
July 25 1995 - Gary Valk
Gary Valk went all the way to the hearing and was actually awarded $430,000 but Ferriera balked, risking letting the winger walk on the open market but somehow still managing to bring him back for less than the $430,000 he won at arbitration. Damn, and we thought Murray was tight. He was then traded to the Penguins in the final year of the arbitration-avoiding deal.
February 21st 1997 - Gary Valk traded to the Penguins
August 10th 1995 - Bobby Dollas
The Ducks avoided arbitration with Bobby Dollas by inking him to a multi year deal in 1995, Dollas was coming off a 20 points in 45 game campaign as second pairing minute eating defenceman. Ferriera traded him before he could become a UFA.
January 9 1998 - Bobby Dollas traded to the Oilers
The Ducks had a large amount of players file for arbitration in the 90s and early 2000s, including Guy Hebert and Mikael Schtalenkov in the same year. As well as Pavel Trnka in 2002.
The Bryan Murray Era
Bryan Murray - although not in Anaheim long - oversaw what may go down as the preclude to the golden era. He built the team that saw the franchise make its first Stanley Cup Finals appearance; he also drafted cornerstone players that were an integral part of their eventual championship after he was gone. His time with arbritration, much like everything else he did with the club, was relatively smooth and professional.
July 5th 2002 - Ruslan Salei
The former franchise record holder for games played by a defencemen filed for arbitration at the conclusion of the 2002 season, the season before the Ducks miraculous Cinderella run. He got a pretty hefty pay rise, from 950k to 1.6m AAV on a two year deal. He bucks the trend in that he was not traded eventually by the Ducks (which could be indicative of the kind of GM Bryan Murray was), instead he chose to sign with the Panthers once he became a UFA at the conclusion of the 2005-2006 season. We will forever miss you Rusty. R.I.P.
July 2nd 2006 - Ruslan Salei signs with Panthers
July 5th 2002 - Matt Cullen
Cullen filed in the same off-season as Salei but was expected to take it all the way to the hearing. He was dealt to the Panthers in the final year of his deal along with Pavel Trnka - who had also filed for arbitration in the summer of 2002.
January 30th 2003 Matt Cullen traded to the Panthers
The Bob Murray Era BEGINS....
Now the crux of this article, the reason why it has become evident in my eyes that Chase De Leo’s days as a Duck could be coming to a short conclusion.
July 6th 2009 - James Wisniewski
If you are looking for a culprit for why Murray seems to have issues with players that file for arbitration, Wisniewski seems like the prime candidate. The offseason after being acquired from Chicago he filed for arbitration, wanting a pay-raise and a longer term deal as a legit second pairing defender. He and the Ducks avoided the actual hearing when Anaheim signed him to a one year deal worth $2.75m.
July 5th 2010 - James Wisniewski
Déjà vu? With his arbitration-avoided one year deal now ended, Wisniewski decided to try it again. Again looking for a long term deal, Wisniewski had less success to bank on - totaling 30 points in 69 games compared to his 11 points in 17 games the previous year. The two sides again agreed on a deal before reaching the hearing - another one year deal with a salary bump to $3.25m but he was immediately dealt to the Islanders for a third round pick (Joseph Cramarossa) before the ink could dry.
July 30th 2010 James Wisniewski traded to the Islanders
July 6th 2011 - Dan Sexton
Exactly a year after Wisniewski was signed and dealt, 24 year old fan-favorite Dan Sexton filed for arbitration. The slight winger had just completed a 47 game campaign, potting 4 goals and 9 assists. The two sides agreed on a two year deal on July 12th, avoiding the hearing. He was traded at the deadline in the final year of the deal after spending the majority of it in the AHL.
March 11th 2013 - Dan Sexton traded to the Lightning
July 19th 2011 - Andrew Cogliano
This is possibly the only case that bucks the trend here. The only outlier. As we all know Andrew Cogliano spent many happy seasons with the Ducks, signing a four year extension after his arbitration-avoiding three year deal was up in 2014. Nonetheless, he is now no longer a Duck so technically his time was still limited...
January 14th 2019 - Andrew Cogliano traded to the Stars
July 5th 2012 - Nick Bonino
This is the one that hurts the most in hindsight. Be honest. If you could have a do-over on the Kesler - Bonino trade knowing how things turned out with Kesler, would you still do it? After breaking through with the Ducks after starting the year in the AHL, Bonino filed for arbitration looking for a one-way deal and potentially term. Again, the two sides avoided the actual hearing by agreeing to a two year deal worth $1.4m. After two successful years with the Ducks, Bonino - along with Luca Sbisa, was dealt in a draft day deal for Ryan Kesler.
June 27th 2014 - Nick Bonino traded to the Canucks
July 5th 2018 - Brandon Montour
The most recent example of a Duck that filed for arbitration and is now on another team. Montour was due a raise and relied on the reasoning that after the Ducks had already dealt Sami Vatanen and Shea Theodore they very much needed him. Anaheim was rumored to start negotiations at $1.5m while Montour started at $4.75; he also wanted a one year deal- while the Ducks wanted two. In the end he was signed to a two year deal but accepting 3.25m for the first year and 3.52 for the second. Both sides seemingly meeting halfway, which is somewhat ironic given Montour was dealt to the Sabres less than halfway through the deal.
February 25th 2019 Brandon Montour traded to the Sabres
So that is where things currently sit, with De Leo being the most recent Duck to file for arbitration but avoid the actual hearing. In terms of the future, Devon Shore will be arbitration eligible after his this upcoming season is completed. Will he be extended or file for arbitration? Or will he be dealt before it comes to that? Additionally, Kloos, new signing Poturalski, and deadline acquisition Patrick Sieloff will be arbitration eligible after this season.
Given the history of how things have played out in the past with players that have filed for arbitration with Bob Murray, I would not be growing too attached to Chase De Leo this season.