Tim Kennedy and the Sabres are expected to receive a ruling within 48 hours after both sides completed their arguments during an arbitration hearing today in Toronto. The hearing began at 9 a.m. after Kennedy and his hometown team failed to reach a contract agreement.
No word yet on how the hearing unfolded. Kennedy, agent Allain Roy and Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier were not immediately available for comment.
The Sabres were believed to be offering about $700,000, which would include his $635,000 base salary as a rookie and a mandatory 10 percent raise, on a one-year deal with a higher base salary on a multiyear contract. Kennedy was believed to be looking for more than $1 million per season and perhaps as much as $1.4 million depending on the length of the deal.
Both sides would have rather avoided arbitration, which is usually an unpleasant experience because teams are forced to criticize their own players.
Kennedy had 10 goals and 26 points during the regular season while playing mostly a defensive role, which called for him to be matched up against the opposition's top scoring line. His rookie year included a 19-game stretch in which had only two points and was minus-8. He bounced back with three goals and seven points (plus-6) during an eight-game stretch in March after he was moved to left wing.
He was one of their better forwards in the playoffs and figures to be part of their plans.
Arbitration rulings are often based on several variables, including statistics, ice time and experience. It doesn't bode well for Kennedy, but the 24-year-old is a solid two-way forward who plays with an edge they lacked. He has speed and skill to put up bigger offensive numbers if given more time on the power play and opportunities on the Sabres' top two lines.
If the ruling goes in his favor and the Sabres disagree, they have the option of walking away from the ruling and allowing Kennedy to become an unrestricted free agent. Atlanta walked away from former Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur, who was awarded $2.4 million in arbitration.
--- Bucky Gleason