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Fabian Brunnstrom Headed to Salary Arbitration

Fabian Brunnstrom, he of 2 goals and 9 assists in the 2009-2010 season, has filed for salary arbitration, evidently unhappy with the qualifying offer made to him by the Dallas Stars. Check out the DMN for the full list of players filing for arbitration league wide.

If my understanding of salary arbitration is correct, both team and player will propose a number and then a neutral third party will weigh the evidence and decide on something likely in between. The Stars can choose to accept it, or not, and then Bunny becomes an unrestricted free agent, free to listen to juicy offers from around the league. (TSN says there's still 297 UFA's unsigned, btw...)

It's unclear how Brunnstrom fits into the Stars plans going forward, if at all. It's still unclear how he fit into last years plan. He played 44 games in a rather undefined role, amassing only 11 points and a -3 on the year. That followed a rookie season that saw him score 17 goals in 55 appearances, a strong number for a rookie. Brunnstrom is said by many to be a "skill guy" who needs "top six" minutes to develop his potential. On a team like Dallas, already stacked with left handed wingers, he likely won't get it.

Last September, coach Crawford gave Brunnstrom an opportunity in camp to earn premium minutes, but when opening night came he played on a line with Krys Barch. He played all 14 games in October, then sporadically after that, including a shoulder injury in November. Some wonder if he could benefit greatly from a change in scenery, a la Ville Leino.

Players are ordinarily required to be in the league 4 years before they're arbitration eligible, but signing his first NHL contract after the age of 20 alters the rule for Fabian. The Stars, with the addition of a James Neal extension hopefully in the works, would have 13 forwards under contract next season without Brunnstrom.