- Big Bad Blog - http://bigbadblog.weei.com -

Matt Hunwick files for salary arbitration with Bruins

The agents for Boston Bruins [1] defenseman Matt Hunwick told WEEI.com on Sunday afternoon that the 24-year-old defenseman has filed for salary arbitration with the Bruins. Hunwick was facing a 5 p.m. deadline on Sunday to file the necessary paperwork for arbitration with Boston, and Hunwick and the B’s will now continue to enjoy a window of time to negotiate a new deal. No arbitration date has been set yet, but Hunwick’s camp certainly won’t be shying away from the arbitration table a month or so from now.

“I anticipate still negotiating with the B’s up until the date,” wrote Hunwick’s agent, Peter Fish, in an email to WEEI.com. “We feel we have a good case if it goes (to arbitration).”

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed in an email that Hunwick had filed for arbitration. The former University of Michigan blueliner was one of 20 NHL [2] players that ended up filing for abitration by Sunday afternoon’s deadline.

Hunwick is no longer free to receive offer sheets from other NHL [3] teams during the arbitration process, and there have been some productive ongoing discussions with the B’s over the last week. Hunwick’s negotiations are beginning to take on a very similar tenor to those with fellow defenseman Dennis Wideman [4] last year. Wideman filed for arbitration last summer, but eventually came to terms with the Bruins on a four-year, $15.5 million deal that’s been looking better and better within the grim reality of the dropping NHL salary cap.

NHL arbitration cases are typically heard in late July and early August (this summer it’s July 20-Aug. 4). A player and team can continue to negotiate up until the date of the hearing, in hopes of agreeing on a contract and avoiding the actual arbitration hearing. A decision must be made within 48 hours of the hearing, and Aug. 6 is the final date when decisions must be rendered on all arbitration cases.

When the decision is announced, the team has the right to decline, or “walk away” from the award. If the team exercises this right, the player can declare himself an unrestricted free agent. The Bruins “walked away” from defenseman David Tanabe when he was awarded a $1.275 million arbitration decision in 2006, but there’s virtually no chance of that happening in Hunwick’s case.