The Winnipeg Jets are on the clock when it comes to getting a couple key players under contract.
Forward Andrew Copp and newly-acquired defenceman Neal Pionk have salary arbitration dates set for later this month in Toronto; Copp July 21 and Pionk July 24.
The vast majority of restricted free agents who opt for arbitration don't usually get to a hearing because their contracts are usually resolved in advance. Copp and Pionk were among 40 RFAs who filed last week.
If deals can't be struck between now and then, an independent arbitrator would hear arguments from both sides and then issue a one or two-year ruling that is binding.
That means, one way or another, there will be some cost certainty for both the players and the organization later this month. And that's certainly a big deal for Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who has about $20 million in remaining salary cap space to get Copp, Pionk, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor under contract.
Laine and Connor don't have arbitration rights at this stage, so they couldn't go that route.
Jacob Trouba is the only other player to take the Jets to arbitration since the NHL returned to Winnipeg in 2011. He was awarded a one-year, $5.5-million contract last summer. Trouba, now with the New York Rangers and again a RFA, also filed for arbitration last week and has a hearing set for July 25.
Copp, 24, had a career-high 11 goals along with 14 assists last season while showing his versatility by moving up and down the lineup, both as a winger and occasionally a centre. He just finished up a two-year contract that paid him $1 million a season and looks to be in line for a significant raise.
Pionk, 23, just wrapped up his first full NHL season, with six goals and 20 assists in 73 regular-season games. The left-shot blue-liner came to Winnipeg, along with the 20th-overall pick in last month's 2019 draft, in exchange for Trouba. He just finished up a two-year contract that paid him $1.775 million annually.
Other arbitration cases of note include ex-Jets forward Joel Armia, now with Montreal (July 20), former Jets/Manitoba Moose forward Chase De Leo, now with Anaheim (July 27) and Brandon native Joel Edmundson of the Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues (Aug. 4).
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.