Hawks Insider

Blackhawks' Philipp Kurashev opens up about ‘weird' arbitration experience

The independent arbitrator awarded Kurashev a cap hit of $2.25 million for two years

NHL: JAN 28 Blackhawks at Oilers

EDMONTON, AB – JANUARY 28: Chicago Blackhawks Left Wing Philipp Kurashev (23) takes warm up Edmonton Oilers game versus the Chicago Blackhawks on January 28, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB. (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NHL arbitration process does not sound like a fun experience. I'm sure you've seen some of the horror stories.

You have the team trying to make a case against their own player while the player is in the same room and the player trying to oversell his value to the team. And then, you walk out and pretend like nothing happened.

"I heard there's been ugly processes before where guys shouldn't go in, let their agent go in, and they go in and they come out almost crying," Chicago Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said. "It's a tough process, because it's about money at that point, it's not about the player."

Philipp Kurashev, who was in the room for his hearing, went through it for the first time in his career over the offseason. And while it wasn't necessarily a messy negotiation with the Blackhawks, it certainly was a unique experience.

"Of course it's something you don't really want to do, but I didn't know what to expect at all," Kurashev told NBC Sports Chicago. "I talked with some people who did it before so they kind of told me, but still, you don't know what comes.

"It was definitely a different experience. It's weird, but it's part of the business. It's nothing personal, that's just how it is."

I asked Kurashev whether he's seen or heard the stories about arbitration cases in the past that made the player's relationship with the team sour and whether he was nervous about having an experience like that. His situation seemed to be more of a minor case than a major one, where the team and player are millions of dollars apart.

"You always hear the stories about how it is, right?" Kurashev said. "But at the end of the day, you don't have to take it personally, you don't have to take everything they say to heart and just try to focus on what you know about yourself and what you think about yourself, because that's the most important. 

"I don't have any bad feelings or anything like that to anyone. It was an experience and I learned a lot about the business. It was interesting, but I'm glad it's over with and hopefully that's the last time that happens."

Richardson said contract statuses can sometimes affect players, whether they're waiting to sign a new one or they "get a big one and they're overwhelmed with it and they hear all the static around it and it affects their game." He doesn't think Kurashev was one of those players affected by it.

"There's no animosity on our side," Richardson said. "Our guys are happy he's back. He's a great player for us, a young player that's still growing, so we're happy he's back, and I think he's happy that it's out of the way."

The independent arbitrator awarded Kurashev a cap hit of $2.25 million on a two-year contract. Because it was a player-elected file, the team got to choose the term, which was two years.

Kurashev reportedly filed for one year at a cap hit of $2.65 million. The Blackhawks filed theirs for two years with a $1.4 million cap hit. The arbitrator ruled closer to Kurashev's average annual value, but it was fairly close to the middle point.

The ugly process is over, and Kurashev is relieved it's behind him and he can get back to playing hockey.

"I'm happy I get a chance to play here for another two years," Kurashev said. "I love it here, and hopefully I can show them in those two years that I'm part of the team and for the future."

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