Tomorrow Tom Poti and the Rangers go to the
arbitrator to decide what the defenseman will be worth in the coming few
seasons. Poti, who made $925,000 last season most likely received
the standard ten percent increase for a player earning less than the
league average, an offer that would edge his salary up over the one
million dollar mark...not bad for a guy who managed just 2 goals and 23
assists last year in 66 games last year in what turned out to be his worst
total since entering the league in the 1998-99 season
The trade that brought Poti to New York
and sent fan favorite Mike York to Edmonton along with his soft playing
style have already tilted the popular opinion against him. There
won't be much room for mistakes this season and Poti will need to work
harder than most if he hopes to win over the fans and avoid the treatment
that Petr Nedved received last year.
So what exactly were Poti and his agent
thinking when they elected to file for salary arbitration in July?
Well for one you could make the case that Poti was underpaid during his
stint with Edmonton though his numbers were certainly not stunning.
Perhaps more appropriately he now plays for the Rangers, a team renown for
overpaying players and Poti and his agent want to take full advantage.
Poti does deserve some credit though for
electing arbitration over holding out which might have seen him miss camp
and perhaps the start of the season. Whatever the reason, the young
defenseman would be wise to consider the people who are paying to come
watch him and his team mates play at the Garden before making unpopular
Of course arbitration could also work
against him. It's not uncommon for the arbitrator to award a two or
three year contract when called upon to settle salary disputes...a time
frame that puts Poti right at the door of a potential lock-out in
2004-05. If instead he had elected to take the one year qualifying
offer, Poti could have proven his worth on a good team this year and
signed a much more lucrative long term deal next summer.
Instead Poti finds himself increasingly under
scrutiny and may have even cheated himself out of
some financial security.