A total of 17 players around the NHL filed for salary arbitration on Sunday. Only one Hab was eligible in goaltender Michael McNiven and he elected to do so. A hearing will be scheduled for later this month if an agreement can’t be reached before then.
The 24-year-old spent last season with Laval where he was basically the full-time backup. As a result, McNiven only played in 13 games, posting a 7-3-3 record with a 2.59 GAA and a .895 SV%. He was added to Montreal’s Black Aces squad for the playoffs and at one point, became the third-string goalie when Cayden Primeau was unable to travel.
There are two possible reasons for McNiven electing to file for arbitration. The first is that the two sides aren’t yet in agreement on what his AHL salary would be; it seems like a given that his NHL pay would be at or close to the league minimum. The second is that Montreal asked him to do so, thereby opening up a second buyout window that will open up after he settles. Only players with a cap hit of $4M or more are eligible to be bought out (and players must have been on the team prior to the trade deadline as well) but it’s one extra option at Montreal’s disposal that they’ll now have at some point this month.
At this point, it’d be quite surprising to see this get to a hearing although two-way deals have been awarded by an arbitrator before. More likely is that we’ll see something get worked out over the next week or two to get McNiven signed where he’ll once again likely be Cayden Primeau’s backup with Laval.