Rather than make a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Michael Frolik, the Winnipeg Jets have filed for club-elected salary arbitration with the penalty-killing forward, reports TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The two sides will likely work towards a long-term deal in the coming days before a hearing is scheduled.
Frolik, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks last year, recently completed a three-year, $7 million deal in Winnipeg. Since he made $1.9 million in 2013-14, a qualifying offer from the Jets worth the same amount would’ve positioned him to stay in a Winnipeg uniform for at least another year.
However, the Jets appear set to take a different route, filing for salary arbitration while working out a long-term deal. If the two sides don’t agree to a contract, they’ll head to an arbitration hearing, where Frolik will be provided with one and two-year offers for contracts with the team.
The big downside to arbitration is that Frolik would be likely to leave once his next contract is done. Those salary hearings can occasionally damage relationships between players and teams, something Winnipeg surely wants to avoid.
Considering that Frolik was actually pretty solid in 2013-14, recording 15 goals and 42 points while being one of the team’s top penalty-killing forwards, a long-term deal seems likely now. Going to arbitration and risking Frolik hitting UFA in a year or two doesn’t seem to be the plan, though things could always change depending on how negotiations go.
Frolik isn’t the only big name heading to club-elected salary arbitration, either, as the Avalanche recently filed for the same process with star forward Ryan O’Reilly. Both situations will be ones to watch as the NHL offseason gets going.