Kris Versteeg and the Florida Panthers will meet in front of an arbitrator on Monday July 23 to try to reconcile a deal that will bring Versteeg back to South Florida.
Versteeg is one of the biggest restricted free agents the Panthers have yet to re-sign this off-season and the result of the arbitration will determine if Versteeg laces ‘um up in Sunrise next year or becomes an unrestricted free-agent. If Versteeg becomes a UFA there is no doubt that there will be a line of teams to snap him up but hopefully it won’t come to that.
The word arbitration is like nails on a chalkboard to most fans. The arbitration process is used to sort out disputed items in a player’s contract. Most of the time the “items” in question deal with contract length or money.
Versteeg and his agent are most likely pushing for a long-term high dollar contract, and why not? In the 2011-12 season Versteeg put up career-high point numbers and was one of the major contributors that took the Cats to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.
For Versteeg this is the perfect time to ask for a big contract because depending on the results of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement with the player’s union, the type of contract that Versteeg receives may not exist after this round of contract signings. The NHL’s initial offer to the player’s union states that contracts should be limited to five years. Negotiations aren’t final on that front and no one knows the outcome but it’s just one more reason Versteeg is a smart man by trying to get all he can when he can.
I think Dale Tallon and the Panthers are serious about getting a deal worked out to keep Versteeg around. Arbitrators are there to work out a fair deal for both parties, not to give either side ridiculous advantages. I highly doubt the Cats will walk away from a fair deal for Versteeg.
The arbitrator must present a deal within 48 hours of the initial hearing. At that time the team has the option to sign or walk away. On that timeline we should know something about Versteeg’s new contract by no later than Wednesday July 25. Keep your web browsers pointed to the Rat Trick for further information.
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