Near the end of June, the New Jersey Devils extended qualifying offers to a handful eligible players. Two in particular were forwards Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen, both of whom elected to file for salary arbitration before yesterday’s 5pm deadline for player. The two forwards will be preparing for arbitration hearings for their contract length and salary with the Devils. Salary Arbitration is a bargaining chip for restricted free agents to try and negotiate their contract. Both sides meet up with a neutral arbitrator who decides the outcome. The player makes his case for what they deserve, after which the team then makes a case of their own. The arbitrator then makes a decision within 48 hours and alerts both parties. In this article, Blake Coleman’s and Stefan Noesen’s arbitration filings will be discussed in terms of what it means for the player and the Devils.
Noesen made a base salary of $660,000 in the 2017-2018 season. This is important because the minimum amount of money he can be awarded for salary from arbitration must equal 110% of his base salary for a qualifying offer. This means Noesen will walk away with at least $726,000 for the 2018-2019 season. Noesen is also eligible to receive that salary in a one or two-year deal as he is two seasons away from unrestricted free agency eligibility. Since Noesen filed for salary arbitration, the Devils get to choose from the final options provided by the arbitrator for his contract length and cost.
Like Noesen, Blake Coleman also made a base salary of $660,000 in the 2017-2018 season. This means the minimum amount of money he can walk away with is also $726,000 for the 2018-2019 season. Where the two differ those is the length of their new contracts. Noesen is eligible for two years max, but Coleman is only eligible for no more than a one-year deal. This is due to Coleman having one year remaining until he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
Both Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen were important cogs in the Devils lineup last season, both spending a lot of time playing on a line centered by Travis Zajac. They faced a lot of the league’s top talent, and were tasked with shutting them down. In the process, both players even contributed offensively, resulting in career numbers for the two young forwards. No one can predict how an arbitration hearing will go, but an important factor to think about is the Devils’ salary cap situation. The Devils currently have the third-most cap space with $23,098,333, and a cap hit of $56,401,667. However, the league minimum for next season is going to be $58.8 million. Signing Noesen and Coleman is not only key to the team’s overall chemistry and development, but for New Jersey to reach the cap floor. If Coleman and Noesen both receive the minimum amount from their qualifying offers after arbitration, this would put the Devils at $57,853,667, just under one million dollars from reaching the cap floor before qualifying offers to other players such as Miles Wood and Steven Santini (both would receive $874,125 base salary each) are official (which would then put the Devils just over the cap floor).