The Canucks announced on Monday that they have re-signed Mason Raymond. The restricted free agent re-signed just minutes before his arbitration case was to be heard. But that’s not the surprising part, the surprising part is that Mike Gillis was able to get Raymond to sign a two year deal, worth $2.55 per season. There’s no doubt in my mind that Raymond would have been awarded more in arbitration, perhaps well more. In fact, most pundits (including myself)were predicting $3 million or more.
This begs the question: why did Raymond settle for less? Was he worried that he would get awarded too much and have the Canucks walk away from the award? Does he just really want to win and knew that a lower cap number would help keep the team together? Or did he just run-in to Mike “the negotiator” Gillis?
Mike Gillis has done a superb job on a number of contracts in his two plus years as Canucks GM. His style seems to lay low, keep quiet and then at the last possible minute offers up his best offer. It’s like playing hard to get. Remember when he re-signed Alex Burrows? Rumours were swirling that Burrows would be traded if he didn’t sign before the deadline, and what do you know, he signs a dirt cheap contract. You could almost just see him starting to sweat, wondering what Gillis was going to do.
The fact that Gillis is a former player agent plays a big part in this also. He knows how players think, what offends them, what impresses them, etc. It’s something that we didn’t see with the last few GMs in this town.
So just how good was this deal? Consider Raymond, a 25 goal scorer is getting $2.55 million and compare that to Clarke MacArthur’s arbitration award ($2.4 million for a 16 goal scorer) or Nikolai Kulemin’s new contract ($2.35 million for a 16 goal scorer). Both of those players are of similar age and clearly not as good as Raymond.