Refereeing Breakdown: Yakov Trenin
While most of the players who had early referee dates have settled in recent days, that has yet to be the case for the Predators and Yakov Trenin. They have until the start of the hearing on Tuesday to reach an agreement; once the hearing begins, they will have to go through the process and await the sentence.
Crew: $1.35 million (two years)
Player: $2.4 million (one year)
Environment : $1.875 million
Trenin finally broke into the NHL in 2020-21, becoming a full-time player with the Predators. From just 11 points in 45 games, he added two goals in the team‘s six-game playoff series and cemented his place as an everyday player in the NHL. With this year as the starting point, last year was where Trenin really made a name for himself in Nashville.
Operating as part of the Predators’ “Herd” line with a rookie Tanner Jeannot and veteran Colton Sissons, Trenin has become a fan favorite, playing with the kind of passion that wows crowds and riles opponents. Trenin’s lineage became a central part of the Predators’ desired “Smashville” team identity under coach John Hynes, and Trenin’s work ethic and physical style earned him an increased role.
In 80 games, Trenin has only collected 24 points. On paper, this is by no means a notable offensive production. But 17 of those points were goals, and Trenin also scored three goals in the team’s four-game playoff sweep at the hands of eventual champions Colorado Avalanche. All of Trenin’s goals came at even strength, as he saw virtually no power play time. Trenin has also made himself invaluable on the defensive side of the ice, skating as a second-unit penalty killer for most of the year.
Altogether, the skill set Trenin brings to the table is intriguing. Trenin’s passionate old school game is one that has endeared him to fans and coaches alike. He scores at even strength, and maybe he could even score 20 goals with a bit of shooting luck if we consider 17 to be a baseline. And, on top of all that, Trenin is a capable penalty killer, an effective defensive end, and an important member of a Predators line that looks like a trio set in stone for years to come. The points aren’t obvious and he doesn’t have an extensive record, but if he can repeat his performance from 2021-22, he’s the kind of player any NHL team would love to have.
Statistics 2021-22: 80 GP, 17G 7A 24pts, 46 PIMS, 136 shots, 14:40 ATOI
Career Stats: 146 GP, 24G 17A 41pts, 77 PIMS, 223 shots, 13:00 ATOI
Comparable contracts are limited to those signed within Restricted Free Agency, meaning UFA deals and entry-level pacts cannot be used. The contracts below correspond to these parameters. Player salaries also fall within the parameters of the figures submitted by both sides to Trenin’s negotiation.
Guillaume Carrier (Golden Knights) – Carrier is admittedly in the lower bracket of comparable players, as his goalscoring tally hasn’t come close to the heights that Trenin was able to reach. While Trenin’s 17-goal season eclipses Carrier’s career-high of eight in 54 games, if we put goals scored aside, the comparison becomes clearer. Carrier has a style of play relatively similar to that of Trenin: very aggressive, physical, with an always active rhythm. But since Carrier is an inferior scorer and doesn’t offer the same defensive/penalty value, his $1.4 million cap should be considered a floor for any Trenin contract.
Max Comtois (Ducks) – It’s hard to find a comparable for Trenin given the unique offerings present in Trenin’s game, but Comtois is solid nonetheless. More offensively than Trenin, he signed a two-year contract with the Ducks after a 2020-21 breakout campaign, a deal worth just over $2 million a year. Comtois scored 16 goals and 33 points in just 55 games in his platform year, better production than Trenin, but did so with more power-play opportunities than Trenin and a higher role in the alignment. He also doesn’t provide the kind of defensive value that Trenin does, although Coach Dallas Eakins hasn’t asked him to shoulder much of the defensive load. The Predators could simply point to Comtois’ scoring numbers and claim that Trenin, as a less productive player, must be worth less than Comtois’ deal, but such a case would be ignoring Trenin’s intangible effects on the game.
Trenin is a tough arbitrage case to project because his overall on-ice value is difficult to capture on a piece of paper. The ‘points’ column of a team sheet might be the most important area of evaluation for a player when it comes to contract negotiations, and it’s where Trenin’s case is weakest. But everywhere else, Trenin makes a strong case for being worth the $2.4 million he’s demanding. He’s a really useful third line who has a lot to like about his game.
That being said, the lack of comparables doesn’t help Trenin, as there isn’t some sort of precedent-setting contract to guide a referee. Also, Comtois’ recent contract, which was significantly more productive, reaching around $2 million AAV, doesn’t help him in his pursuit of a number above that mark. Perhaps Trenin’s lack of experience, since last year was his first true full regular season in the NHL, is what will hurt his case the most.
But, even with that in mind, after laying out all the positives of his game, it’s really hard to make a convincing argument as to why Trenin is worth less than $2 million on his next contract. He scores goals, brings all sorts of physical intangibles that coaches and fans want to see, and can kill penalties and provide legitimate defensive value.
With all that skill set brought to the table, the dollar value of the deposits on either side might seem a bit low. That means this arbitration case will be fascinating to follow as we get closer to August 2.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.