It’s official: the arbitration process for the Nashville Predators and Russian forward Yakov Trenin is over and the two parties have a contract.

Yakov Trenin has been awarded $1.7 million from the arbitrator. The Predators then set the term at two years, giving Trenin a two-year deal worth $3.4 million.

The news came down on Friday after an unusual delay in the process. Reports came out on Thursday that the arbitrator asked for an additional day to consider the case. It was unclear why the additional time was needed.

Whatever the reason, the Preds and Trenin finally have a contract after a weeks-long arbitration case that started in July. The valuation seems perfect for both sides as Trenin will fit right back into his electric 3rd line role with Tanner Jeannot and Colton Sissons, and  the Preds now have around $4 million in cap space left.

Yakov Trenin’s arbitration case with Preds

After Trenin filed for arbitration on July 17th, the two parties had more than two weeks to work on a deal. But when a report from Elliotte Friedman emerged that the two parties were $1 million apart on the valuation, it became clear that an arbitration hearing would be the only reasonable solution.

Remember that RFA arbitration is a very standard part of the collective bargaining agreement. Many players file for arbitration every summer, as they are contractually allowed to do. While around 75% of those filings result in contract agreements prior to the hearing (according to the National Academy of Arbitrators), that still leaves quite a few players with hearings to determine their value.

In other words, Trenin is not alone in taking this route to find a contract that suits him. This is not a case of a player “holding out” or being unreasonable. This is a case of a player exercising an option in the collective bargaining agreement. It would be unwise to read too much into his decision here, especially as it pertains to his desire to be in Nashville.

In fact, Yakov Trenin’s 2021-22 season is exactly the kind of case arbitration is built for. Trenin far exceeded expectations on the Preds last year, outplaying the $725,000 value of his contract; he scored 17 goals, which was 6th highest on the team, and was a crucial part of the Preds’ dynamic third line with Tanner Jeannot and Colton Sissons.

Trenin’s qualifying offer with Nashville would have been $750,000. He’s clearly worth more than that.

Nashville Predators arbitration history

Since the 2004-05 lockout, when the salary structure of the NHL was overhauled with a brand new CBA, the Nashville Predators have had 20 players file for arbitration. Of those 20, five players actually reached their arbitration hearing (Ville Koistinen in 2008, Shea Weber in 2011, Craig Smith in 2015, Viktor Arvidsson in 2017, and Rocco Grimaldi in 2019) with the other 15 reaching contract agreements prior to the hearing.

Of those five, only three (Koistinen, Weber, Grimaldi) reached the arbitration verdict. The other two (Arvidsson and Smith) reached contract agreements prior to the verdict. Note that the rules were changed in 2020 and now there’s no further contract negotiations allowed between the two parties once the hearing begins.

The Preds’ arbitration history is fairly typical of other NHL teams. For example, the Detroit Red Wings have had 14 players file arbitration, with three of those reaching the hearing. The Buffalo Sabres has had 15 players file arbitration, with four of those reaching the hearing. The St. Louis Blues have had 19 players file arbitration, with two of those reaching the hearing.

Having players file arbitration is not an indication of a franchise’s inability to negotiate or manage their cap well. Honestly, it’s more luck of the draw than anything. If your team has a larger than usual number of arbitration filings, it’s likely due to your team giving playing time to young players who then outplay their rookie contracts. Teams like the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks have not had players file arbitration because they have not had many young players outplay their rookie contracts. It doesn’t mean they are better or worse at cap management, it just means they haven’t had this particular situation arise as often as Nashville.

As I mentioned earlier, arbitration is also not an indication of the player “holding out” or being unreasonable. Nashville is not being treated unfairly by these players. It’s just a part of the process. Remember: the teams (via the league) agreed to the CBA just like the players (via the player’s association) did. This means they agree to the terms of arbitration outlined within.

— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —