Over the weekend, the Colorado Avalanche and newly acquired center Ross Colton avoided arbitration by agreeing on a 4-year $16 million contract. A win for both the player and the organization following J.T. Compher’s departure from the Avalanche via free agency.
While Colton’s recent payday may appear too rich for, say, Trent Frederic, a further examination certainly poses an argument. For starters, both players are natural centers drafted in 2016, with Frederic in the first round and Colton in the fourth. Frederic, like Colton, is eligible for arbitration, with his meeting set for August 1st. In 190 career NHL games, Colton collected 47 goals and 36 assists for 83 points, while Frederic, through 198 NHL games, accounts for 29 goals and 25 assists for 54 points.
However, Colton’s production took a dip in 2022-23 compared to a season prior- a difference of 22 goals vs. 16. As a result, his overall point total dropped seven points. Cause for concern? Certainly not. But potentially indicative of the type of player the Tampa Bay Lightning chose to move on from. Now factor in Frederic, who enjoyed a career year in every statistical category this past season, 17-14-31 compared to 8-10-18 in 2021-22, and it is possible we’re beginning to see him developing into a viable bottom-six scoring option for Boston.
So, what’s the holdup?
According to CapFriendly, the Boston Bruins hold just $5.4 million in remaining Salary. Frederic and promising goaltender Jeremy Swayman are heading to arbitration. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are yet to provide a definitive answer on their futures. So, General Manager Don Sweeney must tread carefully. Regardless of whether or not Sweeney believes Frederic is deserving of a deal similar to that of Colton, the reality is it’s not possible.
In a perfect world, Frederic and the Bruins avoid arbitration altogether. According to Puckpedia, as of 2020, agreements between player and team can only be reached prior to the initial arbitration hearing. Once that takes place only, they must wait until the award is delivered by the arbitrator. There’s still time, but Colton’s deal certainly complicates matters.