When we looked at Mason Raymond a few weeks ago we said we'd know the team's intentions by at least June 25, the last day to qualify RFAs. It turns out we didn't need to wait that long.
This morning we learned Vancouver was using cut-down arbitration (the first time we've seen this move in the GMMG era) in order to reduce his $2.6 million dollar salary on a new one year deal. This would allow them to ask an arbitrator to reduce as much as 15% of that deal on the new contract. This certainly isn't the end; as Dreger notes, Vancouver can still trade him prior to the arbitration but, if they don't, they can't walk away from the decision either.
Each side has a good point: Vancouver wants to take the RFA off the table but bring his one year deal in line with what might be another season of him bouncing in and out of the top six. On Raymond's side this is all about the injury from the Cup Finals last year:
Raymond's agent, J.P. Barry of Calgary-based CAA Sports, said he expects the summer arbitration, to be interesting.
"I think the complication was he had a very significant injury that he was trying to come back from," said Barry. "That makes the case somewhat complicated.
"The injury becomes a topic of the arbitration, because it's kind of muddy waters whether an injury puts a player into a pay-cut scenario. It's never really been argued before."
Personally I think this is a CYA move for Vancouver. I do think they'll try and upgrade the second line at Raymond's expense, but if they strike out they'll at least have the option to have Raymond stick around at a reduced salary.