Tom Poti

An Arbitrary Decision

Tomorrow Tom Poti and the Rangers go to the arbiter 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 decisions.

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.

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