Most players must have four years of NHL experience before they are eligible for salary arbitration (the term is reduced for those who signed their first NHL contract after the age of 20). The process is used by restricted free agents, because it is one of the few bargaining options available to them.
The deadline for players to request salary arbitration is July 5, with cases heard in late July and early August. 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 arbitration process.
Teams can also ask for salary arbitration. But a player can be taken to arbitration only once in his career, and can never receive less than 85 per-cent of his previous year's salary. There are no such restrictions on the number of times a player can ask for arbitration, or the size of the salary awarded.
A decision must be made within 48 hours of the hearing. 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 evidence that can be used in arbitration cases:
Evidence that is not admissible: