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Drew O’Connor among 22 players across NHL to file for arbitration

Pens forward starts the process of getting his next contract

NHL: APR 06 Wild at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Drew O’Connor has exercised his right for salary arbitration this summer ahead of a deadline today. As you can see from the list of 22 players, it’s a move that restricted free agents both established and relatively unestablished will take to start the process of getting the wheels in motion for their next contracts.

The hearings for these players will happen between July 20th and August 4th. Last year the NHL had 26 players file for arbitration, 25 of them agreed to contracts prior to the process playing out.

In the end, nothing too notable about this and to be expected that O’Connor would use arbitration to get a contract. As a restricted free agent, he had no other way to ensure he would receive a contract offer to his liking. Now, he gets the process going and has ensured that he will be signed within the next month.

O’Connor scored 11 points (5G+6A) in 46 games with Pittsburgh this season. He also added 22 points (8G+14A) in 20 American Hockey League games in Wilkes-Barre.

Perhaps more importantly, O’Connor’s filing for arbitration opens up a second buyout window for the Penguins. Per CapFriendly, after O’Connor receives his award (or, more likely, signs prior to the case being heard) the Pens will have a 48-hour window open to initial a buyout of a player with over a $4.0 million cap hit, if they so choose to use it.

Previously Kyle Dubas indicated that he was not eager to use any buyouts this summer, which tack on years of dead cap hits. In the standard buyout window from after the Stanley Cup to June 30th, the Pens were inactive on that front. It remains to be seen if Dubas’ thinking has changed given the trade climate he has seen in the last few weeks.

A buyout of Mikael Granlund would open up $4.1 million in cap space in 2023-24, a buyout of Jeff Petry would clear $2.75 million in space immediately. Both would saddle Pittsburgh with cap hits through 2026-27, however.