The Winnipeg Jets and winger Michael Frolik have avoided an arbitration hearing agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.3 million.
The Jets and Frolik were on course for a salary arbitration hearing on Thursday but GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and Frolik’s agent Allan Walsh were able to reach a one-year agreement prior to having to exchange briefs at 8 a.m. today.
"We’ve had many, many discussion’s with Michael’s agent (Allan Walsh) about a multi-year deal," said Cheveldayoff. "We both felt it was best to agree to a one-year deal at this time and continue conversations as we move forward."
Both Cheveldayoff and Walsh agreed a longer-term arrangement was in the offing but neither would say what got in the way of further progress.
"It’s tough to characterize without getting into the nuance of every detail of the discussions," said Cheveldayoff. "I don’t think either side is interested in getting into what the actual conversations were. Those things remain private. The conversations were very open and candid and productive. It’s a matter of fact we don’t have a longer term contract in place but if the arbitration process wasn’t what it was, we’d still be talking."
Both sides are still interested in signing a long term deal but ran out of time prior to today’s deadline. Briefs can get ugly, as both sides set forth their reasons for salary expectations. Teams often have to tear down their own player in order to hit a certain number.
"We talked about a lot of different concepts and spent a lot of time together, Chevy and I," said Walsh. "We talked about a two-year deal, a three-year deal, a four-year deal and a five-year deal. We spent most of our time talking about a one-year deal and a five-year deal. That’s what the last week of our discussions focused on. All of our discussions were professional and never were there any harsh words or animosity in any way.
"It was a pleasure working with them everyday. We worked hard on a five-year deal and at the end of the day, we couldn’t get there. For now. But I want to make it very clear, Michael loves Winnipeg. He loves playing in Winnipeg. Michael told Winnipeg that he would love to sign long term and be part of what is getting builit in Winnipeg. Clearly, it’s been mutually expressed that there is a strong desire to get something done. We expect to begin talking again and get something done well before the end of the season. That’s our hope and our intention."
Frolik, who had 15 goals and 27 assists last season, will be an unrestricted free agent next July unless the a new deal can be reached. The sides can continue talking and a next contract can not be signed until January.
"We can talk but we can’t sign a new deal until January," said Walsh. "Our sole focus is to get something done long-term in Winnipeg. The goal is to get a long-term deal. Michael’s role this year should increase and he has the opportunity to solidify himself as part of the core."
Frolik, 26, is a native of Kladno, Czech Republic and has played in 430 career NHL games between Florida, Chicago and Winnipeg for 193 career points (76G, 117A) and 137 penalty minutes.
Frolik was acquired by the Jets from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 30/13 in exchange for Winnipeg’s third and fifth round picks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He was originally drafted by the Florida Panthers in the first round, 10th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.