The Pittsburgh Penguins may be headed down an ugly path with one of their young forwards.
The majority of the time a salary dispute between a restricted free agent in the National Hockey League and their respective team is solved long before the player and team are forced to go before an arbitrator. There is good reason for this precedent, arbitration often forces teams to be very critical of their player as they try to get the best possible deal, and that can often lead to some hurt feelings along the way. Now of course teams and players will both deny this, but there's no denying the fact that history speaks for itself.
Over the past 10 years the National Hockey League Players Association has tracked the data on salary arbitration, and since 2009 only 27 players have been forced to go to salary arbitration before finding a deal. Here's where that data gets really interesting however, within 3 years of those arbitration hearings 21 of those players were no longer members of the team that went to arbitration with them. This truly serves to highlight just how contentious salary arbitration can be between teams and players, and now it seems the Pittsburgh Penguins are headed down a similar path.
The Penguins and young forward Zachary Aston-Reese had until 9 am this morning to come to terms on a new deal before they were set to stand before an arbitrator, and it now appears that they have failed to reach a new deal. The restricted free agent is coming off a 43 game regular season in 2018 - 2019 in which he recorded 8 goals and 9 assists for a total of 17 points. Aston-Reese saw a significant increase in his role following the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and it is clear based on today's news that he will no longer be content earning near the league minimum from the Penguins. The fact that this is headed before an arbitrator would suggest that the two parties are still very far apart on their respective ideas of what a new deal should look like .
Only time will tell if Aston-Reese goes down the same path that so many players have gone down after salary arbitration with their team.