The NHL released its list of restricted free agents who have filed for arbitration this offseason on Thursday afternoon, and Dallas Stars players Richard Bachman and Mark Fistric were among the 16 players named.
Most restricted free agents have the right to select arbitration if they have at least four years of NHL experience, and those who signed their first NHL contract at age 20 or later are eligible sooner. The team and player (or more accurately, the player's agent) each present an argument to an independent arbitrator, who makes a determination on the player's salary for next year.
Bachman, the team's returning backup goalie, was 8-5-1 with a 2.77 GAA and .910 save percentage in 18 games as a mid-season call up and will be looking for a raise over the $550,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level he made last season. He will likely be seeking a one-way deal to cement his status in the favorite for the backup goalie position, which will likely get a challenge from offseason signee Christopher Nihlstorp in training camp.
Fistric is a little bit more of an interesting case, and you can find out why after the jump.
Fistric made $1.25 million last season, and as we've seen the last several years and particularly this offseason, defensemen are very expensive on the open market. However, he faced the weakest quality of competition on the Stars (yes, even weaker than Adam Pardy) and scored a career-low two points in 60 games. The signing of Aaron Rome also mucks things up a bit with the bottom three defensemen (figure Rome, Fistric and rookie Brenden Dillon at this point), and his playing time will also be subject to training camp battles, one would figure.
The upside for Fistric is that he will become an unrestricted free agent after next season, so the one-year contract that results from arbitration probably looks very appealing given the contracts defensemen can command when they hit UFA status. Also, the Stars are currently very, very small on defense, and while they have some size that may be ready in the next few seasons, Fistric knows that his 6-foot-3, 234-pound frame is probably more valuable here than elsewhere at the moment.
The schedule for the hearings will be released later this summer, and the sides can continue to negotiate until then. The Stars can also walk away from the arbitrator's decision should they feel it's too high, leaving Fistric or Bachman an unrestricted free agent at that point.