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Will this be the summer of RFA goalies getting offer sheets?

Jun 5, 2012, 2:35 PM EDT

Cory Schneider

Over at the Globe and Mail, James Mirtle has an intriguing take on what July 1 might hold for a stellar crop of RFA goalies:

There’s Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Ondrej Pavelec, Cory Schneider, Anders Lindback and Devan Dubnyk all in need of contracts, with two or three of those names potential targets for offer sheets when free agency opens this summer.

The Canadiens can avoid that situation with Price by electing for arbitration before July 1, but that isn’t an option until after July 1 with Rask and Schneider given their low salaries.

Both Boston and Vancouver are relatively tight against the cap as well, with big salaries dedicated to Thomas (even if he doesn’t play) and Luongo making their goaltending situations precarious.

Some in the hockey world I’ve spoken with think this is being contemplated and that one reason GMs Steve Yzerman and Brian Burke have been so quiet on the goaltending front is that they plan on making a bold play on July 1.

Some notes:

– Under the current CBA, RFA compensation works like this:

$1,034,249 annual cap hit or less: No compensation
$1,034,249 — $1,567,043: Third-round pick
$1,567,043 — $3,134,088: Second-round pick
$3,134,088 — $4,701,131: First and third-round pick
$4,701,131 — $6,268,175: First, second and third-round pick
$6,268,175 — $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third
$7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks

– Teams need to have their original draft picks for compensation. They can’t use picks acquired via trade.

– The Lightning have five picks in the top 50 at the 2012 draft: No. 10, No. 19 (from Detroit in the Kyle Quincey trade), No. 37 (from San Jose in the Dominic Moore trade), No. 40 and No. 50 (from Philly in the Pavel Kubina trade). They also have a third round pick at No. 71.

– As for compensatory picks, Tampa also has all its picks in 2013 and an extra second rounder (again, from the Kubina deal).

– As such, Yzerman’s in an amazing position to throw out an offer sheet and still obtain young talent. For example, he could sign any of the above RFA goalies to a deal that pays, say, $6 million annually and lose his first- second- and third-round picks in 2013. The loss of those picks would be mitigated by his slew of young draftees from 2012.

– That said, some consider offer sheeting RFAs dirty pool. Plenty of GMs don’t like it and only six have been signed since the lockout — Ryan Kesler (Philadelphia), Thomas Vanek (Edmonton), Dustin Penner (Edmonton), David Backes (Vancouver), Steve Bernier (St. Louis) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (San Jose) with only Penner actually moving teams — a move that caused great acrimony between then-Anaheim GM Brian Burke and Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe.

  1. bdfools - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    GMs need to get over it and accept restricted free agent offer sheets as a legitimate and fair tactic. Otherwise, call it what it is – restricted indentured servitude.

    • davebabychreturns - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      I guess you have a point on “indentured” but most NHL players are compensated extremely well and furthermore have access to the kinds of perks most of us can only dream of (not to mention two to five months off every year), calling it “servitude” is the wildest sort of hyperbole.

      • bdfools - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        Obviously it was meant to be tongue in cheek. :P

        But the truth is that a with GMs unwilling to throw offer sheets out there because it’s considered “dirty,” restricted free agents are screwed. Yes, they’ll get paid, but with their current team not bidding against anybody else, more times than not, they don’t get what they could on the open market.

      • davebabychreturns - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        Well that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

        The league is structured in a fashion that allows the teams that draft and develop and manage their cap numbers well to remain competitive – it gives the small markets a fighting chance – and even then, tons of players sign colossal deals while still restricted free agents. Look at Drew Doughty, or Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, or whoever else..

  2. davebabychreturns - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I see nothing in here detailing actual rumours of an offer sheet.. just idle speculation from Mirtle.

    Additionally, an offer sheet would have to be signed after this year’s draft, meaning that while Yzerman can restock the cupboards this year it’s not the same draft he’ll be losing picks from (if that really matters).

    At any rate, nearly every team in the league has well over $10m in cap space, and can exceed the cap by another $7m until the start of next season; the Canucks for example have $22m in cap space with just Schneider to sign (well.. and Mason Raymond). Virtually any team in the league has space to accomodate a huge contract, and the Canucks certainly have the budget to back it up.

  3. furkmyster - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Considering this past off-season, neither Doughty or Stamkos got offer-sheeted, I doubt something will happen with these goalies.

  4. billsin20xx - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    It could be very good deals for those losing rfa’s thouugh.
    It was another of Regier’s stupid moved a few years ago when he matched Edmontin’s offer sheet for Vanek. If they had let him go it was four first rounders, and chances are Vanek wouldn’t have helped them enough, they still could have been #1 picks!

  5. lsxphotog - Jun 6, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Tampa is going to make some big moves before next season. I know the Tampa fans expect an instant fix, but Yzerman is in it for building a strong Cup-contending team each year. With St. Louis’ career toward its end, hopefully they’ll be able to get something done soon. They have a ton of talent in the pipeline, their picks/deals this year could solidify that for another 5 seasons or more.

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