What's a fair price for a 48-point scoring, 26-year-old alternate captain? The New York Rangers are about to find out.
Ryan Callahan, New York's hardworking right wing and a locker-room leader, has a salary arbitration hearing Thursday to determine a new contract for the 2011-12 season -- and possibly beyond. He kicks off a list of six restricted free agents who have yet to work out new deals with their respective clubs.
Vancouver's Jannik Hansen is second on the list with a hearing on Friday. The 25-year-old winger is no stranger to arbitration -- he and team brass attended a hearing last summer and Hansen was awarded a one-year, $825,000 contract. He proved his worth by posting the best season of his career in 2010-11, totaling 9 goals, 20 assists and a plus-13 rating in 82 games for the Canucks. He also had 9 points in 25 games in Vancouver's run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Perhaps the most anticipated arbitration hearing will occur Aug. 2, as Nashville captain Shea Weber will plead his case. Weber made $4.5 million last season, the last year of his three-year contract -- and earned every penny of it. The 25-year-old, a member of Canada's 2010 Olympic gold-medal team, has 80 goals and 134 assists in 402 NHL games, all with the Predators.
After Weber comes another high-profile case. Zach Parise, who has been the Devils' offensive catalyst, scoring 146 goals between 2006 and 2010, will face an arbitrator Aug. 3. The 26-year-old earned $5 million last season and will be awarded a one-year contract in arbitration. He can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Parise's teammate, defenseman Mark Fraser, will follow him with an Aug. 4 hearing.
Islanders forward Blake Comeau will also have a hearing that day. Comeau, 25, set career highs in scoring last season with 24 goals and 22 assists in 77 games.
Twenty-two players filed for arbitration, but 16 of them worked out new contracts with their respective clubs.