Just how much are Panthers' Kulikov and Versteeg worth?

Feb. 26, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Kris Versteeg (32) slides into the boards during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

In arbitration, both the player and team propose a salary for the coming season. Each side states their respective cases to an arbitrator - a neutral third party - who decides the player's salary for the upcoming season. Both sides can negotiate a deal with each other up to the date of the hearing, in hopes of avoiding the process; existing rules state that a player cannot receive less than 85% of his previous salary. Within 48 hours of the ruling a decision must be made by the team to either sign the player or walk away, making him an unrestricted free agent.

So how much are both players - one heading to arbitration while the other deals through his agent - worth? Take a look after the jump...

Let's begin with Dmitry Kulikov:

Season Team Age GP G A PTS +/- TOI PPTOI SHTOI OGVT DGVT SGVT GVT
2009-10 FLA 19 68 3 13 16 -5 17:56 2:46 0:21 0.4 1.6 0.0 1.9
2010-11 FLA 20 72 6 20 26 -5 19:57 2:36 0:51 2.8 3.0 0.0 5.8
2011-12 FLA 21 58 4 24 28 -5 21:51 2:50 1:02 3.8 2.7 0.5 7.1

Kulikov - avoiding arbitration after the final season of a three-year entry-level contract - missed 24 games in 2011-12, but still put up the best numbers of his short career. Using the 3-1-1 rule (three goals equals one point in the standings, which equals one million dollars) Kulikov was worth $2.37 million last season. Over the his career, Kulikov has been worth $4.93 million (if you combine all three seasons GVT and divide by three); due to Kulikov's age and short time spent in the league, it's hard to find a real value, so to play it safe, I'll say Kulikov is worth $3 million. Using the 3-1-1 rule, Kulikov will only need to have a GVT of 7.5 to worth his cap hit, an increase of 0.4.

Hockey Reference defenseman comparisons:

Kris Versteeg

Season Team Age GP G A PTS +/- TOI PPTOI SHTOI OGVT DGVT SGVT GVT
2007-08 CHI 21 13
2 2 4 -1 15:52
2:25 0:04 0.3 0.2 0.0 0.5
2008-09 CHI 22 78 22 31 53 15 17:02 2:25 2:01 7.6 3.3 0.2 11.1
2009-10 CHI 23 79 20 24 44 8 15:43 1:55 0:58 6.2 3.6 0.3 10.1
2010-11 PHI, TOR 24 80 21 25 46 -9 17:43 2:52 0:42 4.8 1.2 -0.5 5.5
2011-12 FLA 25 71 23 31 54 4 19:54 3:22 0:38 7.1 3.5 -1.4 9.2

Unlike Kulikov, Versteeg has more playing time in the NHL, making it easier find out how much he's realistically worth. Versteeg scored a career high 54 points in his first season with the Panthers while garnering a salary of $3.07 million, which is right on his cap hit of $3.08 million. Since forwards usually peak around their mid-twenties, and overall worth being $12.13 million over his career, a cap hit of $3.8 million would be a safe bet. He'll only need a GVT of 9.9 to justify it (a 0.5 increase). Versteeg's hearing is scheduled for July 23.

Hockey Reference forward comparisons:

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