Twenty-one NHL free agents have elected to take their teams to arbitration in an attempt to solve contract disputes, including […] Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Jordan Nolan […]
You may have noticed, as I immediately did, that Trevor Lewis is apparently eligible for arbitration, despite my assertion that he is, in fact, not. I’m going to say right off the bat — given the fact that Lewis is on the list published by the league — that I’m sure I’m wrong and the league is right.
I just need someone to explain it to me.
The CBA says:
12.1 Eligibility for Player or Club Election of Salary Arbitration
a) A Player is eligible for salary arbitration if the Player meets the qualifications set forth in the following chart and in Section 12.1(b) below:
First SPC Signing Age Minimum Experience Req. 18-20 4 years professional experience 21 3 years professional experience 22-23 2 years professional experience 24 and older 1 year professional experience
A Player aged 18 or 19 earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more NHL Games in a given season. A Player aged 20 or older (or who turns 20 between September 16 and December 31 of the calendar year in which he signs his first SPC) earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more Professional Games under an SPC in a given season.
My interpretation of the above definition was that if you sign at 18 or 19, seasons of pro experience accrue according to how many NHL games you play in a given season, whereas, if you sign at 20 or older, seasons accrue according to how many NHL, AHL or other pro games you play in a given season.
My reading is supported (conclusively, I would think) by this, also from Article 12:
As used in this Article, “age,” including “First SPC Signing Age,” means a Player’s age on September 15 of the calendar year in which he first signs an SPC regardless of his actual age on the date he signs such SPC.
In other words, when they are talking about a player’s age, they are talking about his age (as defined in bold above) back when he signed, not his age at the time of the season in question. That’s what the above quote says. “Age means age…in which he first signs an SPC.” So, if you wanted to go by the letter of the CBA, not what the league obviously thinks it kinda sorta meant to say, then Trevor Lewis is not eligible for arbitration. Because Trevor Lewis signed his first ELC at 19. Therefore (see chart), he needs four years of professional experience in order to be eligible for arbitration. And he played in 10 or more NHL games in only the last three seasons (2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13).
Again, he signed at 19. So his “age” (which equals “age when signed” as defined above) in every subsequent season is 19 and stays 19. So only NHL games count.
That’s what it says. It’s not my fault that’s what it says. But it’s what it says.
But, Goddammit, his name is on the list. So clearly the league and the club and the agent and the player all must think his AHL seasons (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10) count, also — bringing his years of professional experience to six, and making him eligible for arbitration.
The CBA, not surprisingly, is grammatically ambiguous, due mostly to the undefined phrase “in a given season,” compounded by the juxtaposition of the “age at signing” distinction with reference to the player’s age in each of his potentially-relevant NHL or “professional” seasons. It’s very clear (but weird) in its definition of “age” in Article 12. I guess everyone is just ignoring the weirdness and going with “what they meant was…”
Based on the evidence of Lewis’s apparent eligibility, this is my new translation of what the CBA means to say:
For the purpose of calculating years of professional experience, a player is considered to be “aged 20″ for the entire season x if his 20th birthday falls within the calendar year in which season x begins. (This distinction is necessary because seasons begin in one calendar year and end in another.) In other words, a player who turns 20 on 12/31/13 is “aged 20″ for the entire 2013-14 season, even though he is not yet 20 when the season starts. However, a player who is one day younger — and turns 20 on 1/1/14 — is “aged 19″ for the entire 2013-14 season, despite the fact that he is 20 for most of the season.
For any season in which a player is defined as not yet “aged 20,” that player earns one season of professional experience by playing in 10 or more NHL games in that single season.
For any season in which a player is defined as “aged 20″ or older, that player earns one season of professional experience by playing in 10 or more games (total for all leagues in that season) in the NHL, AHL, or other professional leagues, in that single season.
I will now update my original post to include this clarification.