Unsigned Wild center and restricted free agent Erik Haula filed for salary arbitration in advance of Sunday afternoon’s deadline. Haula and the Wild are still able to settle on a new contract before a hearing, which will be scheduled for later this month.
The vast majority of arbitration cases in the NHL are settled before the hearing. The good part of the arbitration process is that it guarantees that Haula will be signed well in advance of training camp.
Haula, 24, scored seven goals and seven assists in 72 games and was minus-7. He was scratched in eight of 10 playoff games, scoring once in two games.
Haula was one of the Wild’s best penalty killers last season, however, being on the ice for seven power-play goals against in 153 minutes, 47 seconds of shorthanded ice time (second among Wild forwards). The Wild had the NHL’s top-ranked penalty kill.
By Haula filing for arbitration, this opens up a second buyout window for the Wild. This would not seem to affect goalie Niklas Backstrom, though, because according to Backstrom’s recently hired agent, Jay Grossman (who coincidentally happens to be Haula’s agent), Backstrom isn’t expected to be medically cleared from elbow surgery until at least training camp.
Defensemen Christian Folin and Jon Blum are also unsigned. Blum, eligible for arbitration, opted not to file in part because it’s believed he’ll soon be traded to give him a fresh start elsewhere.