Sep 25, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Nashville Predators center Nick Spaling (13) skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford Shouldn't Wilt To Nick Spaling's Asking Price

Right now, Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager Jim Rutherford has hit an impasse with restricted free agent forward Nick Spaling.

Spaling, 25, has asked the Penguins for $2.85 million in arbitration, but Pittsburgh – Rutherford – has offered a significantly lower deal of $1.65 million on a one-year award, per Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

The two sides are clearly nowhere near an agreement, and are readying themselves for an arbitration hearing Thursday. And while most cases like these see both parties reaching a compromise somewhere in between each price range, Spaling is really testing Rutherford’s willingness to not overpay.

Rutherford must not give in.

Spaling has yet to play a shift, and so it’s difficult to evaluate how much to pay someone who doesn’t have an identity on the team. Even if they were to split the difference, and give Spaling $2.25 million, that’s still too much for somebody who’s expected to be on the third-line. Not to mention too much with their cap space being so scarce.

At the very most, Rutherford could go $2 million, but even that’s a lot for Spaling. The ex-Pred made all of $1.5 million last season while playing for Nashville, and nothing in his production screams he’s worth $2.25 million annually. Spaling has yet to get past 13 goals in a season, and has garnered over 22 points just once.

The problem with signing players nowadays, is that clubs are splurging and handing mediocre skaters bloated contracts they don’t deserve. And because these teams who are paying no mind to realistically facilitating their finances are prevalent, they’re giving players like Spaling the idea that they too can pocket that type of money.

Understandably, it’s not as though Spaling will receive more than a one-year deal, because if Rutherford winds up giving him $2.25 million, one-year is all he’s getting. So, in theory, Spaling is affordable, and will be off the books next summer. However, if he does get $2.25 million or more, it complicates matters should the team orchestrate trades at the deadline.

I personally feel Spaling would be a great fit on the third-line, but there’s a chance the team could just simply let him walk. There’s no sense in breaking the bank on a second tier player. It’s not like Pittsburgh doesn’t have anybody in their system they can replace him with.

Rutherford must stick to his guns Thursday.

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