SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 28: TJ Galiardi #37 of the San Jose Sharks looks on kneeling in warm ups before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at HP Pavilion at San Jose on February 28, 2012 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
According to the NHL Players' Association, Sharks left wing T.J. Galiardi was one of 15 restricted free agents (a list that includes former Shark and the man Galiardi was traded for, Jamie McGinn) to file for salary arbitration today, a process that begins on July 20th and concludes August 4th.
Galiardi made $700,000 last year as a member of both the Avalanche and Sharks organizations and his filing likely indicates he's seeking more than the $735,000 his qualifying offer guarantees him. If the case goes to arbitration (far from a guarantee given all of the 20 RFAs who elected for arbitration last summer ended up agreeing on a contract with their team prior to their hearing), an independent arbitrator will consider evidence from both the Galiardi and San Jose camps in order to come to a decision on a salary for Galiardi within 48 hours of the hearing. At that time, the Sharks have the option of accepting or walking away from the arbitrator's decision. If they opt for the latter, Galiardi would become an unrestricted free agent.
Galiardi's representation will probably present the likes of Andrew Cogliano, Wayne Simmonds, Jiri Tlusty and Jannik Hansen as comparable players whose contracts, which carry average annual values of $2.39 million, $1.75 million, $1.6 million and $1.3 million, respectively, Galiardi's should be based on. All four had similar levels of production to Galiardi in terms of points-per-game and were seeking their second RFA contracts when they signed their current deals. San Jose will need to counter by making the case that, apart from Cogliano, Galiardi has played significantly easier minutes than the players in question (as well as other potential comparables such as Brandon Sutter, Darren Helm and Jay McClement), in terms of the quality of players he's been deployed against, where he's started his shifts and the talent level of the players Galiardi has shared the ice with (his three most frequent forward linemates at even-strength over his career are Paul Stastny, Chris Stewart and Matt Duchene).
Unfortunately, the NHL is still in the dark ages when it comes to these things and the only statistics admissible in these hearings are ones available on NHL.com. Granted, things like quality of competition calculations, zone starts and "with or without you" charts can be culled from the league's game sheets, but I assume that's cheating. If the Galiardi camp is successful in obtaining a salary close to $2 million/year, the Sharks should probably think about walking away. While it would hurt and likely cause even more outrage among the fanbase to lose the last remaining piece of the McGinn deal, that has to be viewed as a sunk cost at this point and shouldn't color further decisions. Hopefully, though, Galiardi and the Sharks will be able to come to terms on a deal that works for both sides before the arbitration schedule begins.