Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 7/12/13
Mikkel Boedker was not among the NHL players who filed for salary arbitration by Thursdays deadline. That doesnt mean all is peachy in negotiations between the Coyotes and Boedkers agents, Kevin Epp and Jarrett Bousquet. Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving and Bousquet continue to talk, but Treliving said Thursday evening that a gap still exists between what the team believes Boedker should be paid and what Boedkers camp believes the speedy forward is worth. The good news is that were not necessarily locked into one specific position, Treliving said. Theres always a number of ways to skin a cat, but weve got to find a deal that works for both sides. Its interesting that Boedkers representatives elected not to file for salary arbitration. The Coyotes extended a qualifying offer to Boedker, 23, last week. Since he made more than 1 million last season, the qualifying offer was for the same amount Boedker made in 2013: 1.2 million. Had his agents filed for arbitration, they likely would have been locked into an award somewhere between that number and what they are asking. By avoiding arbitration, Boedkers agents could be admitting that he wouldnt have much of a case and that the award would have come back on the lower end. "Every player and every situation is different, but we felt that arbitration maybe wasn't in Mikkel's best interest," Bousquet said. "We've been negotiating in good faith, and we're just trying to inch closer to a deal." A pair of recent contracts may serve as comparables for Boedker. New York Rangers wing Carl Hagelin, 24, got a two-year, 4.5-million deal to avoid arbitration after notching 10 goals and 24 points, and Floridas Shawn Matthias, 25, got two years and 3.5 million after scoring a career-high 14 goals (21 points). The Coyotes still dont know what they have in Boedker. He fell short of the production expectations the Coyotes set for him last season. He had seven goals and 26 points in 48 games, but much of that production came over the first half of the season when GM Don Maloney said Boedker was likely the teams MVP. In the Coyotes final 22 games, Boedker has just one goal and eight points. But Bousquet noted there were a number of other Phoenix players who slumped over the second half of the season, robbing the team of a chance to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. "I watched every game, and if you watch all the other things that don't show up on the stat sheet, he was still playing well," Bousquet said. "The production wasn't there, but he was doing a lot of other things to help the team." Although lines have not been determined, the Coyotes' signing of free-agent center Mike Ribeiro could help Boedker by allowing him to play with more top-end skill, thereby increasing the production the Coyotes desperately need from him. "From the player's point of view, we believe if he can play with players like that, the sky's the limit for Mikkel," Bousquet said. Treliving had hoped to have the contract done by now, as Phoenix did for restricted free agents Lauri Korpikoski (four years, 10 million) and Michael Stone (three years, 3.45 million), but unless the talks drag on long enough to become a distraction, there is little concern on either side's part. We dont start (training) camp for another two months and the regular season for another three months, so there really is nothing in terms of a significant time pressure for us, Treliving said. Were going to do something thats fair and hopefully fair for Mikkel, too. We havent been able to bridge it yet, but I feel very confident were going to get a deal done. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
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