Derek Roy has become the most recent player to agree to a contract prior to his arbitration hearing. He and the Buffalo Sabres have agreed to a 6 year 24 million dollar contract as reported by Garth. He is one of many to avoid a scheduled arbitration hearing this summer as 17 of the 30 players who filed for arbitration have already reached agreements with their respective teams. So far, only one player has gone to arbitration and there are 12 more scheduled over the next couple of weeks. It is understandable why teams and players look to avoid going to arb. It is a risk for both sides because the deal is out of the hands of the two parties. Players and GMs feel more comfortable to negotiating a price than recieving a set one from an arbitrator. It is also a painful process that can tear apart the relatonship between a player and a team. The player tries to prove why he is better and deserves more money while the team brings up his weak points and points out how little he means to their team. It is an uncomfortale process to say the least. Yet, many players file for arbitration in the first place even though they do not really want to go through the process because both the players and the team benefit if the player files for arbitration and signs before the hearing.
The organization is afraid of recieving a high priced offer sheet, especially if the team HAS to retain their player. Kevin Lowe has already pushed two teams to overplay for their players: Vanek of Buffalo and Penner of Anaheim. Once a player files for arbitration, he cannot be given an offer sheet so it gives the team security.
The player also gains leverage from filing for arbitraton. Teams are most afraid to head into arbitration because if the price is set higher than expected, they may be forced to walk away. On th other hand, while the player can lose some money in arbitration, losing cash is not nearly as bad as losing a player vital to your oraganization. Arbitration rarely gives a player more than a 2 year contract so any loss of money on the part of the player only lasts a couple of years but if a team walks away, they lose the player for good. That gives the player leverage in the negotiations and often the deals made are more favorable toward the player. Both the team and player gain, so why not?