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Friday, August 13, 2004
Updated: September 1, 1:39 PM ET
2004 NHL arbitration tracker

By Tom Wheatley
Special to ESPN.com

Arbitration in the NHL isn't pretty. Unlike baseball, where the arbiter chooses either the team's or player's bid, an NHL salary arbiter listens to each side's argument and awards any amount he or she deems fit.

Instead of letting a neutral party decide their fate, the sides often come to an agreement before the hearing date. Even after a decision is made, teams have the option of walking away while retaining the right to match an offer from another team that is less than 80 percent of the decision.

Below is the complete list of eligible players who filed for arbitration by the July 15 deadline, with their position, age and 2003-04 statistics (games played, goals, assists, points, plus-minus rating and penalties in minutes). Players who have signed with their team before their hearing date are listed with "settled" and the terms of their new contract.

We also contacted four NHL pro scouts to get their takes on the players who filed.

ANAHEIM MIGHTY DUCKS
Ruslan Salei
Pos: D; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 4-11-15, -1, 110 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.75 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $2.4 million
The skinny: Salei led all Ducks defensemen with 23:41 in ice time per game. His minus-1 was second only to Vitali Vishnevski among blue-liners. "He's a tough defenseman, pretty good two ways. He's big enough to handle the tough guys and good enough to handle the other team's top offensive guys. He gives you a little offense, too. He plays the second power play. He's not as aggressive as he used to be."
ATLANTA THRASHERS
Ronald Petrovicky
Pos: RW; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
78 gp, 16-15-31, -9, PIMs 123
Last season's salary: $467,500
SETTLED: 2 years; $700,000, $770,000
The skinny: Petrovicky surpassed his previous career highs of five goals and nine assists last season. "He came in with a reputation as a pest, but he scored a lot of goals around the net. I don't anticipate him putting up those stats again, but who knows? He'll be getting a raise, obviously."
Marc Savard
Pos: C; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
45 gp, 19-33-52, -8, 85 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2 million
SETTLED: 2 years; $2.7 million, $3 million
The skinny: Between a sprained ankle, concussion and sprained MCL, Savard was limited to just 45 games last year. Still, his 52 points tied for third on the team. "I don't know what happened between Calgary and Atlanta (when he was traded), but he he was one of the best players in the league last year, if you look at his points per game (1.2). He also didn't play a lot of games (45), so that may hurt him with the arbitrator."
BOSTON BRUINS
Hal Gill
Pos: D; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 2-7-9, +16, 99 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $2.1 million
The skinny: Didn't play as significant of a role as Nick Boynton, who averaged 22:32 minutes a game to Gill's 18:24. "He's good. He played a lot more physical than he used to. But he didn't have a very good year. He's worth that (the $2 million he made last year)."
Sergei Gonchar
Pos: D; Age: 30
03-04 stats:
71 gp, 11-47-58, -14, 56 PIMs
Last season's salary: $3.65 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $5.5 million
The skinny: Led NHL defensemen in scoring last season despite playing 56 games for the lowly Capitals. "He's in for a raise just for his previous stats in Washington. I would think he would make between 6 and 7 million."
Joe Thornton
Pos: C; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
77 gp, 23-50-73, +18, 98 PIMs
Last season's salary: $5.5 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year, $6.75 million
The skinny: Thornton led the team in points last season for the third time in five years. Finished tied for 13th in the league in points -- with Jarome Iginla and Steve Sullivan -- and finished eighth in assists. "What did (Jarome) Iginla get last year, seven million? ($7.5 to be exact). He'll get something like that for the big numbers he had last year. The Bruins are taking a lot of heat for letting all their guys go. They'll probably pay Thornton for a year and let him go to arbitration again next year. But who knows if arbitration will even be in the new CBA?"
BUFFALO SABRES
Mika Noronen
Pos: G; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
11-17-2, 2.57, .906
Last season's salary: $550,000
SETTLED: 2 years: $825,000, $875,000
The skinny: Noronen was unable to seize the No. 1 job when the opportunity presented itself last season. "At this point, he's a solid backup who has yet to establish himself."
J.P. Dumont
Pos: RW; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
77 gp, 22-31-53, -9, 40 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.4 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $2.1 million
The skinny: Tied for third on the team in scoring with Chris Drury and put up career numbers in assists and points. "I look at him as a one-dimensional goal scorer, although he can make a play. Most people look at him as a sniper. He can put the puck in the net, but he probably won't be out there in the last minutes of a close game."
Martin Biron
Pos: G; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
26-18-5, 2.52, .913
Last season's salary: $2.2 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $2.8 million
The skinny: Biron struggled early in the season as the Sabres utilized three goalies during the first half of the season. Biron settled down in the second half, but the Sabres were too far behind the pack to make the playoffs. "They've been waiting for this for a while from him. Again, if you didn't base it on a couple months, you'd wonder about him. He's like Brian Boucher, who had those five straight shutouts in Phoenix and then couldn't win for a couple weeks. You wonder if he's over the hump or not, as far as consistency."
Brian Campbell
Pos: D; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
53 gp, 3-8-11, -8, 12 PIMs
Last season's salary: $550,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $550,000
The skinny: "He's undersized, very small for me for a defenseman. He's another guy who's fairly one-dimensional, an offensive defenseman. He moves the puck very well. Any kind of physical battles in his own end, he struggles. If he gets any kind of raise, I'd think it would be very minimal. For me he's like a seventh defenseman."
Jochen Hecht
Pos: LW; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
64 gp, 15-37-52, +17, 49 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.3 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $2.1 million
The skinny: Hecht missed the first seven weeks of the season with a broke arm, suffered in the Sabres' last exhibition game. Still, he posted career numbers in assists and points. "He just does everything well. Nothing great, but he's so versatile. He can play on the first line. He's good in his own end. He scores the occasional two-goal game. He's just a good, solid NHL player. He just does it so quietly."
Brad Brown
Pos: D; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
43 gp, 0-3-3, +2, 66 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.6 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $700,000
The skinny: Based on the uncertainty of the league's financial future, there is a good chance the Sabres will walk away from the arbitrator's decision if he gets much of a raise. "He has a big heart. He'll fight anybody, although he doesn't do it as much any more. If you dress him, you try to hide him on your bench. He should be thanking God that he's making that kind of money ($1.6 million) already."
Daniel Briere
Pos: C; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 28-37-65, -7, 70
Last season's salary: $1.6 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $2.55 million
The skinny: Briere led the team in scoring last season and emerged as a true leader, especially in the second half of the season. "By today's standards, he's underpaid. He has a knack for producing points, whether it's goals or assists. He's their go-to guy in Buffalo."
Rory Fitzpatrick
Pos: D; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
60 gp, 4-7-11, -5, 44 PIMs
Last season's salary: $375,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $700,000
The skinny: Spent most of his career in the minors, but got a chance last season because of injuries. "He had a career year and wound up in their top four or five on defense. He's a great guy at that value ($375,000) he's at. Once he gets too high, nobody will have interest in him."
CALGARY FLAMES
Denis Gauthier
Pos: D; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
80 gp, 1-15-16, +4, 113 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.3 million
SETTLED: 2 years: $1.6 million, $1.75 million
The skinny: Gauthier was fifth among Calgary defensemen in average ice time last season (18:43) and missed a majority of the playoffs after injuring his leg against Vancouver in the conference quarterfinals. "That's a pretty good price for him (last year's salary). He should maybe get a little more ... but I do know they've only got so many dollars in Calgary. They made it to the Stanley Cup finals without him, and he's probably not going to be ready till the end of November. If they got the right deal, I think they'd move him."
Miikka Kiprusoff
Pos: G; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
24-10-4, 1.70, .933
Last season's salary: $880,000
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $2.95 million
The skinny: After starting the season as Evgeni Nabokov's backup in San Jose, Kiprusoff was acquired by Calgary to take over the No. 1 job in place of an injured Roman Turek. He finished the season first in GAA and second in save percentage. "He's in for a big raise. He's going to be getting close to $3 million. He doesn't have the previous stats to back him up. But (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere had one good year -- and it was a hell of a year; he went to the Stanley Cup finals with Anaheim, just like Kiprusoff did with Calgary."
CAROLINA HURRICANES
Jesse Boulerice
Pos: RW; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
76 gp, 6-1-7, -5, 127 PIMs
Last season's salary: $450,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $600,000
Erik Cole
Pos: LW; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
80 gp, 18-24-42, -4, 93 PIMs
Last season's salary: $495,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.5 million
The skinny: After an injury-plagued 2002-03, Cole responded in 2003-04 with career highs in goals and points. Still, it was less than what was expected of him two years removed from a stellar rookie season. "He's a hell of a player. Trouble is, he was injured so much the year before. I think that's going to hurt him in the arbitration, even though he played 80 games last year. But he's sure to get a raise."
Kevyn Adams
Pos: C; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
73 gp, 10-12-22, +6, 43 PIMs
Last season's salary: $700,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $900,000
The skinny: "He's basically a fourth-line center who moved up to the third line. He had a good year for them -- one of the few guys who did -- and they like him."
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Bryan Berard
Pos: D; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
58 13 34 47 -24 53
Last season's salary: $2.1 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $3 million
The skinny: The Hawks signed Berard at the end of last October after the Bruins walked away from a $2.51 million arbitration award. He finished first on the team in assists and second in points. His minus-24 was third worst on the team. "He's put up big offensive numbers, but he's not good defensively. If he gets too much money from the arbitrator, three or four million, Chicago will probably walk away. They just signed (Jassen) Cullimore (from Tampa Bay) and gave him $2.5 million -- and he's worth it. And they have a couple kids coming up."
Stephane Robidas
Pos: D; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
59 gp, 3-10-13, +4, 41 PIMs
Last season's salary: $727,500
SETTLED: 1 year; $925,000
The skinny: Acquired by the Hawks from the Stars early last season for Jon Klemm, Robidas missed the last 17 games of the season with a fractured jaw. "He's basically a sixth defenseman. If he gets much over a million a year, they might walk away, especially if they decide to keep Berard."
COLORADO AVALANCHE
Milan Hejduk
Pos: RW; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 35-40-75, +19, 20 PIMs
Last season's salary: $3.2 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $5.7 million
The skinny: His stats dropped from 50-48-98 last season, but so did almost everyone's on the team. Still, he's one of the top players in the league and even more important to the Avalanche given Peter Forsberg's uncertain future. "I've always liked him. He's a good player. He kind of gets lost on that team a little bit with (Joe) Sakic and (Peter) Forsberg, but his numbers are always pretty good. I would think he'd get a raise. He'll probably get about $5 million."
Alex Tanguay
Pos: LW; Age: 24
03-04 stats:
69 gp, 25-54-79, +30, 42 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.5 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $4.25 million
EDMONTON OILERS
Eric Brewer
Pos: D; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
77 gp, 7-18-25, -6, 67 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.5 million
SETTLED: 1 year, $2.65 million
The skinny: "Edmonton is one of the best teams in the league 5-on-5. If you look him up, he was minus-6. But he was invited to Team Canada for the World Cup, and that might get him a little bump. He plays a lot of minutes (24:39) a game, and that counts in arbitration. Who knows? It's a crazy system. His case is one to watch."
FLORIDA PANTHERS
Mike Van Ryn
Pos: D; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
79 gp, 13-24-37, -16, 52 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.13 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.4 million
The skinny: After bouncing around the St. Louis Blues' organization, Van Ryn found a home in South Florida and was one of the youngest defensemen to be among the top two on his team in minutes played (24:26). "He's a classic case of why you've got to have patience with young defensemen. When St. Louis had him, they had a lot of defensemen, and he wasn't very good down at Worcester. So they sent him to Florida (for a playoff rental of Valeri Bure), and someone (Mike Keenan) gave him some ice time and some confidence. He played a ton of minutes last year and gave them a lot of offense. I like him more than I used to, but he's only had one real good year."
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Eric Belanger
Pos: C; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 13-20-33, -16, 44 PIMs
Last season's salary: $743,800
SETTLED: 1 year; $950,000
The skinny: Belanger was one of only three members of the Kings who played at least 80 games last year. "He's a good third-line center, and that's fourth-line money. He logged a lot of ice (17:00) last year with all their injuries. He's good on faceoffs, a good penalty killer, and he gives you some offense."
MINNESOTA WILD
Willie Mitchell
Pos: D; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
70 gp, 1-13-14, +12, 83 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.35 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.775 million
The skinny: Mitchell finished first on the Wild in plus-minus and second in minutes (22:35) behind Filip Kuba, who makes $2 million. "I don't think he's going to get up to $2 million, but he plays a lot of minutes for those guys."
Andrew Brunette
Pos: LW; Age: 30
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 15-34-49, +3, 12 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.1 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.775 million
The skinny: Though his 49 points are 20 fewer than his first year with the Wild, his plus-minus has improved. "He's in for a raise, too. He's put up good numbers since he's been there."
Richard Park
Pos: RW; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 14-10-24, -3, 16
Last season's salary: $700,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $950,000
The skinny: "He'll get a slight raise, maybe, but not much. He'd be a third-line guy on a lot ot teams. He doesn't score a lot, but he fits in better with them than he would with most other teams."
MONTREAL CANADIENS
Richard Zednik
Pos: RW; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 26-24-50, +5, 63 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.85 million
SETTLED: 3 years: $2.3 million, $2.4 million, $2.6 million
The skinny: For the second consecutive season, Zednik led the Canadiens in goals and maintained his career high of 50 points. "He's a good player who had a good season. How many goals did he have? He should get a raise."
Cristobal Huet
Pos: G; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
10-16-10, 2.43, .907
Last season's salary: $425,000
SETTLED: 2 years: $600,000, $600,000
The skinny: Huet led the Kings in GAA and save percentage last season. "When he was the backup in L.A., he came in and helped them a couple times when (Roman) Cechmanek was hurt. You won't sign too many goalies in the $400,000 range. I think he'll get up in the $800,000 range."
NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Steve Sullivan
Pos: RW; Age: 30
03-04 stats:
80 gp, 24-49-73, +1, 48
Last season's salary: $3 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $3.8 million
The skinny: Sullivan was leading Chicago in scoring when he was traded to the Predators on Feb. 16. After arriving in Nashville, he led the team with 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists) in 24 games. "He's going to get a raise. He's a good player, not great defensively. He's small, but he's fast. He's a real competitor. He's got a little bit of a temper, so he takes some bad penalties some times. He's a little bit of a freelancer, which doesn't really fit what they do there. But he got a lot of points for them."
Vladimir Orszagh
Pos: RW; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 16-21-37, -4, 74 PIMs
Last season's salary: $700,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $1 million
The skinny: Orszagh has been consistent in his three seasons in Nashville, registering 15-16 goals and 16-21 assists each year. "He's a small player but another real competitor. He scores key goals, but he also kills penalties. He'll get a raise."
Wyatt Smith
Pos: C; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
18 gp, 3-1-4, +2, 2 PIMs
Last season's salary: N/A
SETTLED: 1 year; $400,000
The skinny: Smith was a key player for the Predators' minor-league affiliate -- the Milwaukee Admirals, who captured the American Hockey League title -- and he provides depth at forward.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Scott Gomez
Pos: C; Age: 24
03-04 stats:
80 gp, 14-56-70, +18, 70 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $2.9 million
The skinny: After making $550,000 in 2001-02, Gomez signed a two-year deal worth $2.4 million two years ago for this very purpose -- so he wouldn't lose a year of arbitration. Gomez, who is replacing Jeremy Roenick on Team USA for the World Cup of Hockey, won the Calder Trophy in 2000 and is regarded as one of the league's best young centers. He led the team in assists and was second in scoring. "He's in for a big raise. He's going to at least double his salary. He's a good player who had a real good finish last season. That line of his with (Patrik) Elias and (Brian) Gionta was really hot. But he drove Pat Burns crazy with loose play in his own end. He's not good defensively but good offensively, and arbitrators don't look at defense except for a guy who's a big minus."
Brian Rafalski
Pos: D; Age: 30
03-04 stats:
69 gp, 6-30-36, +6, 24 PIMs
Last season's salary: $3 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $3.1 million
The skinny: Rafalski is one of the better offensive defensemen in the league, but his numbers suffered when he broke his leg late in the season. "I'm surprised he filed for arbitration. He's right where he should be. I guess it was a business move. He's not going to get any less by filing."
Scott Niedermayer
Pos: D; Age: 30
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 14-40-54, +20, 44 PIMs
Last season's salary: $4 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $7 million (ties highest award ever)
The skinny: Niedermayer won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman, and the Devils will likely have to pay for it. He finished third on the team in points (tops among Devils defensemen) and tied for second in the league among defensemen. "He's going to get at least $8 or $9 million. Look at the other guys who've won the Norris the last few years -- (Chris) Pronger, (Rob) Blake, (Nik) Lidstrom -- they all make about $10 million."
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Oleg Kvasha
Pos: LW; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 15-36-51, +4, 48 PIMs
Last season's salary: $800,000
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $1.55 million The skinny: Kvasha played the most games he has in a single season and set career highs in goals, assists and points. "He's turned himself into a pretty good player. He had a real bad reputation of being a dog a couple years ago, of being a player who should be better than he is. From time to time, they're frustrated with him, but he's better than most people think. He's better than $800,000, I'll tell you that."
Jason Blake
Pos: C; Age: 30
03-04 stats:
75 gp, 22-25-47, +11, 56 PIMs
Last season's salary: $800,000
SETTLED: 3 years; $2 million, $2.05 million, $2.05 million
The skinny: Finished fourth on the team in scoring and trailed only Michael Peca for minutes played among forwards (18:48). "He's one of their best players. He's going to get more than Kvasha. I'd say $2 million. He's playing a lot (18:48 per game). That's a lot of minutes for a forward."
Adrian Aucoin
Pos: D; Age: 31
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 13-31-44, +29, 54 PIMs
Last season's salary: $3.25 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $4.25 million
The skinny: Aucoin was fourth in the league in ice time among defensemen (26:37) and was seventh in plus-minus. "He's going to get a raise, too. He (is among the league leaders) in minutes every year. He could be upwards of $5 million in today's market. A year from now, with the new CBA? He won't be. (The Islanders) will say, 'We'll take the arbitration ruling for one year.' He's close to free agency. He'll be unrestricted (if the age is the same) next year, and maybe the market will come down in the new CBA. But he's a real good player for them."
Janne Niinimaa
Pos: D; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 9-19-28, +12, 64 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.9 million
SETTLED: 3 years; $3 million, $3.2M, $3.3M
The skinny: Niinimaa's nine goals were the most he has scored since 2000-01, but his points were the fewest since 1997-98. "He's played a lot of minutes, too (23:15), but four defensemen play all their minutes. He might be in for a raise, but I wouldn't say a big one."
Dave Scatchard
Pos: C; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
61 gp, 9-16-25, +12, 78 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.4 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.75 million
The skinny: Scatchard is coming off an injury-plagued season, but scored a career-high 27 goals in 2002-03. He also posted a career-best plus-minus last season. "He didn't have a great year, and he was hurt. Those numbers aren't going to get him anything. But he played a lot (16:12) and he had a better year the year before. I guess that's what he's banking on."
NEW YORK RANGERS
Karel Rachunek
Pos: D; Age: 24
03-04 stats:
72 gp, 2-19 21 8 33
Last season's salary: $900,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.5 million
The skinny: The Rangers acquired Rachunek from the Senators at the trade deadline in return for Greg deVries. "He's a right-shot defenseman, a fourth or fifth defenseman there."
OTTAWA SENATORS
Chris Phillips
Pos: D; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 7-16-23, +15, 46 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.675 million
SETTLED: 3 years: $2.3M, $2.6M, $2.9M
The skinny: "He may go up a little in the $2 million range. He's a big body who takes care of his own end. He played 20 minutes a game (20:50), but any of those top four guys on that team average over 20 minutes."
Peter Schaefer
Pos: LW; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 15-24-39, +22, 26 PIMs
Last season's salary: $600,000
SETTLED: 2 years: $1.2 million, $1.3 million
The skinny: He's a good utility guy. He has bounced around from the second, third and fourth line. He's a good penalty killer who chips in offensively. The goal-scoring, that surprised me a little bit, but he was a scorer when he was in the minors. And he's responsible in his own end."
Zdeno Chara
Pos: D; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
79 gp, 16-25-41, +33, 147 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.4 million
SETTLED: 2 years: $4.6 million, $4.9 million
The skinny: Chara finished third in the league in plus-minus and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy for the first time in his career. "What can you say about this guy? He's got it all. He's gigantic. He can fire the puck. He may be the strongest player in the league. Usually the tall guys don't have great balance, but you'll see 220-pound guys take a run at this guy in the corner and wind up on their butts. And he fights. You don't want him doing that, because he's too good to be in the box and you don't want him to get hurt. But he used to fight all the heavyweights. He used to to drop the mitts with Peter Worrell, guys like that. Even now, against Toronto, with all those guys they have who are so aggressive, you can see he wants to go sometimes. But he's learned not to do that."
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Kim Johnsson
Pos: D; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
80 gp, 13-29-42, +16, 26 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.25 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $2.8 million
The skinny: Johnsson led the team in ice time (24:26) and Flyers defensemen in goals, assists and points. "He's their top defenseman. It used to be (Eric) Desjardins, but he's so old now and he's been hurt the last two years. I'd call Johnsson a No. 2, but he's a good player by any standard. He scores, he plays the power play, he kills penalties, he plays a lot of minutes. When he was with the Rangers, there were questions about whether he'd be physical enough. He won't run anyone over, but he competes."
Michal Handzus
Pos: C; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 20-38-58, +18, 82 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.53 million
SETTLED: 3 years: $2.8M, $2.8M, $2.8M
The skinny: Handzus had his best offensive season since 1999-2000, when he scored 25 goals and 53 points in St. Louis. His 58 points were second on the team. "I love him. He's just a real solid player. He's big, he's strong, he's a great penalty killer, he's good on faceoffs. For me, he's as good a third-line center as there is in the league. He played some second line for them, too, and gave them some offense. He just plays. I like that. He doesn't tell you what he's going to do, like some guys. He just does it. He's a coach's dream, really."
PHOENIX COYOTES
Ladislav Nagy
Pos: LW; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
55 gp, 24-28-52, +11, 46 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1 million
SETTLED: 2 years: $2.1 million, $2.6 million
The skinny: Sidelined for the season with a dislocated wrist in mid-February, Nagy still finished tied for second on the team in scoring, set a career high for goals (24) and was only five points shy of his career best in points (57 in 80 games). "All the scouts I know liked Nagy when he was with St. Louis. We all thought he was an up and coming guy. That was a great trade for Phoenix, getting him and Handzus in that (Tkachuk) package. Nagy's not much to look at. He's not the biggest player and he's not the fastest player. But he's real elusive. He's got a little edge to his game. He's got some instincts in the offensive zone and, defensively, he's not a drawback. He got hurt and barely played half the season, but he'll get a big raise."
Daymond Langkow
Pos: C; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 21-31-52, +4, 40 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.7 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $2.95 million
The skinny: Langkow finished tied for second on the team in points with Nagy and reached the 20-goal plateau for the third straight season. "He's a smaller version of Handzus. For me, he's a good third-line center. On their team, he's been a first- or second-line center. He kills penalties. He'll score you 40 or 50 points a year. He competes. He does everything well. But he's probably miscast if he's your first-line guy. And they'll have other players who'll move ahead of him. For me, these are the types of players that you have to get more under control with their salaries."
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Nils Ekman
Pos: LW; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 22-33-55, +30, 34 PIMs
Last season's salary: $575,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.2 million
The skinny: Playing his first full NHL season, Ekman obliterated his previous career highs of 9-11-20, reached in 43 games during the 2000-01 season. "He's an offensive guy who has some courage, which is a nice combination. He can score and he's good in his own end. He's good. I like him."
Evgeni Nabokov
Pos: G; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
31-19-8, 2.21, .921
Last season's salary: $3.625 million
SETTLED: 2 years; $4.425 million/year
The skinny: Nabokov backstopped the Sharks to the Pacific Division title and Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. He also finished third in the league with nine shutouts. "He's a big part of their team, but $3.6 million is pretty good. What's he won? (Laughs) You know, I throw up on the phone every time you tell me a figure that these guys make!"
Scott Hannan
Pos: D; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 6-15-21, +10, 48 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.25 million
SETTLED: 3 years; $2.55 million, $2.675M, $2.8M
The skinny: Though he had a solid regular season, Hannan proved he could be one of the league's next top defensemen during the playoffs. "Actually, he SHOULD get a raise. He was a solid guy on that team. He played really good defense, he moved the puck and he played aggressive. He's a big contributor on that team."
Vesa Toskala
Pos: G; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
12-8-4, 2.06, .930
Last season's salary: $575,000
SETTLED: 2 years: $850,000, $900,000
The skinny: "I'm not a big fan of his. I thought he let in too many easy goals. I saw him play in Cleveland, and he's the only goalie I've ever seen go right to the bench and sit down without the coaches yanking him. He just took himself out of the game. He lost me there."
Scott Parker
Pos: RW; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
50 gp, 1-3-4, E, 101 PIMs
Last season's salary: $665,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $700,000
The skinny: "Is that what he's making now? That's too much. All he is is a protector, a tough guy."
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Pavel Kubina
Pos: D; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 17-18-35, +9, 85 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.5 million
ARBITRATOR: 2 years; $3.1 million, $3.4 million
The skinny: Kubina registered career highs in goals and points, and was second on the team in ice time (21:08). "He's a good defenseman, an offensive defenseman who plays the power play. He won the Cup and he contributed. He's a big guy who was an important cog in that wheel. At the rates they're going, he's probably worth more."
Ruslan Fedotenko
Pos: RW; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
77 gp, 17-22-39, +14, 30 PIMs
Last season's salary: $950,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.5 million
The skinny: Acquired from Philadelphia for the No. 4 pick overall in the 2002 draft, Fedotenko tied Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards with 12 goals in the playoffs. "He's a hard-nosed guy and he contributed a lot. He was good. He should get a raise, too. Winning a Cup means a lot to all these guys in Tampa."
Cory Sarich
Pos: D; Age: 25
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 3-16-19, +5, 89 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.15 million
SETTLED: 2 years; $1.6 million, $1.75 million
The skinny: "They got him from Buffalo, and he's a pretty good defenseman. He moves the puck and gets it out of the zone. Their defensemen are all pretty comparable. There's not one guy who stands out far and above the rest."
Fredrik Modin
Pos: LW; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 29-28-57, +31, 32 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.87 million
SETTLED: 3 years, $2.9 million each year
The skinny: Modin finished third on the team in goals and second in plus-minus. "He played really well. He scored some big goals. He can shoot the puck like a rocket. He'll get a raise."
Cory Stillman
Pos: LW; Age: 30
03-04 stats:
81 gp, 25-55-80, +18, 36 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.75 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $3.9 million The skinny: Stillman was awarded $3.9 million, but he lost his big raise when the Lightning walked away from the arbitrators decision. He's now an unrestricted free agent, but he won't re-sign with Tampa after the Lightning acquired Vaclav Prospal from the Mighty Ducks for a 2005 second-round pick.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Tomas Kaberle
Pos: D; Age: 26
03-04 stats:
71 gp, 3-28-31, +16, 18 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.75 million
SETTLED: 2 years; $2.9 million, $3 million
The skinny: "I've always liked him. He's looked upon around the league as a real good defenseman. Up in Toronto, he takes a lot of heat. He gets unfair criticism, mostly from the media because he's not a physical player. He gets singled out because Toronto plays that in-your-face style, and that's not him. He's a real intelligent player, real good with the puck, and not bad defensively. And he plays a lot of minutes (23:11 per game)."
Bryan McCabe
Pos: D; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
75 gp, 16-37-53, +22, 86 PIMs
Last season's salary: $3.5 million
SETTLED: 2 years; $4.5 million, $4.55 million
The skinny: McCabe finished second on the team in points and first in average ice time (26:26). He set career highs in assists and points. "He's got a strong case. He brings a lot to the table as far as offense and physicality, even though he made some mistakes. In the playoff series with Philadelphia, he was responsible for a couple goals. But I don't think the arbitrators go into that at all. And he was a big plus player. So he'll probably get a raise. As far as I know, the only two rulings anyone has walked away from in the past in arbitration were (Dmitri) Khristich and (Bryan) Berard, both by Boston. I see maybe this year the number being more than two. But even if McCabe gets a big raise, I can't see Toronto walking away from a strong player like that."
Nik Antropov
Pos: C; Age: 24
03-04 stats:
62 gp, 13-18-31, +7, 62 PIMs
Last season's salary: $925,000
SETTLED: 1 year; $1.325 million
The skinny: "He's had some injuries, so his development curve has been slow but it's certainly climbing. He hasn't proved to be a core player yet, but I think he'll develop into one. The size and the skills are there. He could evolve into a No. 1 or a No. 2 center. But as far as getting a big arbitration award, I don't think he's done enough to deserve it to this point."
Clarke Wilm
Pos: C; Age: 27
03-04 stats:
10 gp, 0-0-0, E, 7 PIMs
Last season's salary: N/A
SETTLED: $450,000; club option for 2nd year, $500,000
The skinny: "He didn't have a contract last summer after Detroit let him go in training camp. Toronto gave him a contract, and I think it was two-way. He's a hard-working, grinding role player. He's a fourth-line center, but he can play any forward position. He spent more than half the year in St. John's. If you ever gave him a big award, I'm not sure Toronto would take it. They'd probably just walk away."
VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Dan Cloutier
Pos: G; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
33-21-6, 2.27, .914
Last season's salary: $2.5 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $3.05 million
The skinny: "He had a halfway decent year, but he has never done anything in the playoffs. That's the knock against him. If I was him, I'd take (the qualifying offer)."
Brendan Morrison
Pos: C; Age: 28
03-04 stats:
82 gp, 22-38-60, +16, 50 PIMs
Last season's salary: $2.45 million
SETTLED: 1 year; $3.55 million
The skinny: Morrison has served as the Canucks first-line center for the last three seasons. He finished tied for second on the team in scoring last season and was second among team forwards in ice time (20:07). "I like him. He's a good player. He's another not-big guy who plays big. He plays on that line with a couple good players, (Markus) Naslund and (Todd) Bertuzzi, but he contributes. You can play with Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, but if you don't contribute, it doesn't matter."
WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Brendan Witt
Pos: D; Age: 29
03-04 stats:
72 gp, 2-10-12, -22, 123 PIMs
Last season's salary: $1.75 million
ARBITRATOR: 1 year; $2.2 million
The skinny: Witt's offensive production stayed the same, but his plus-minus plummeted last year -- along with the rest of the team. "He's a hard-nosed kid. Not an offensive threat, but a pretty good, hard-nosed defenseman."

Tom Wheatley is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He is the co-author of Bob Plager's "Tales from the Blues Bench" and "The Memoirs of Bing Devine," both available from Sports Publishing LLC.