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Will there be any offer sheets this summer?

Jul 12, 2013, 12:04 PM EDT

nazemkadrigetty Getty Images

Any time a young, big-name player enters the restricted free agent market, fans wonder if an offer sheet might be coming.

And sometimes they are. For example, Philadelphia Flyers attempted to snatch defenseman Shea Weber from Nashville last season, but the Predators matched. Which is part of the problem: Historically, teams have almost always matched.

“Offer sheets aren’t a concern,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said in June.

Armstrong’s negotiating with arguably the most appealing restricted free agent in defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

“It’s part of the business and you know that they’re there,” he added. “Nothing in an offer sheet is going to be that much crazier than we’re willing to spend anyway.”

That’s especially true now. Going back to the Weber example, the Flyers attempted to out-muscle a smaller market team by heavily frontloading the contract, but the new CBA prevents teams from trying that now.

With that in mind, would Pietrangelo even bother to sign an offer sheet, knowing that all it would serve to do is create a potential rift with the Blues once they match it?

Maybe not, but the Blues are in a somewhat unique situation this year and it’s with that in mind we can’t dismiss the possibility of offer sheets in general. St. Louis has plenty of cap space to work with, but the ceiling has fallen significantly, which means that other teams are more vulnerable to offer sheets now than they have been in a while.

For example, the Toronto Maple Leafs still have five noteworthy restricted free agents and they just handed big deals to David Clarkson and Tyler Bozak. Their cap situation isn’t critical yet, but an opposing team could put them in a difficult position by throwing a big contract at 22-year-old forward Nazem Kadri.

“Whenever you have a certain number of teams that are at or near the cap with restricted free agents, they don’t have the ability to match the offer sheet,” said agent Allan Walsh, according to the Toronto Star. “Or they’re put into a situation where they match the offer sheet and have to let somebody else go.”

That tactic seemed to work out for the San Jose Sharks in 2010. They signed Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year, $14 million contract. The Blackhawks matched, but that made a bad cap situation worse and they were ultimately unable to fit goaltender Antti Niemi under the ceiling as well. The Sharks then scooped up the Stanley Cup-winning netminder.

Alternatively, teams could snatch up lower profile, but still noteworthy young players on cap vulnerable teams, such as Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Chicago’s Marcus Kruger, and Vancouver’s Chris Tanev.

Those deals would have the added benefit of being more appealing to the offering team from a draft pick compensation perspective. The cap hit of the new contract needs to exceed roughly $3.36 million for the original team to get more than a third rounder as compensation.

In the end, the next offer sheet might not be a blockbuster, but it could result in an up-and-coming complimentary player changing teams.

  1. jennettalia - Jul 12, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    I’d like to see the Devils get active on offer sheets. Throw out one to Kadri and Nyqvist. From the comments, the fans are having trouble seeing the long-term sunshine behind ditching Kovy. Give them something to cheer for.

  2. tmlhockeyfan - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    There’s better guys Lou Lamoriello can go after than Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson.

    *waves hand like Obi-wan Kenobi*

    These aren’t the RFA’s you’re looking for.

  3. mendenhallfumblemachine - Jul 12, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Here’s the thing, Lou can’t “throw one out” to Kadri. 3.3ish million and up offer sheets require a 1st round pick and 3 rd pick. They cannot meet that compensation as of now.

    Franson maybe under 3.3, Kadri not a chance.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Jul 12, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      Very good point. The Devils are gonna have to look at the remaining UFA’s or what’s available on the trade market. A large offer sheet isn’t an option. Lamoriello is one of the best in the biz, but keeping that 29th pick is something Lou is going to regret.

      • macjacmccoy - Jul 12, 2013 at 11:20 PM

        He’s better off just rounding out his team this year with low commitment players who will come off the books at seasons end. Then next year, when they aren’t handicapped by a late start to free agency, they will have the cap space and the opportunity to sign a difference maker or two. Its just to late this year, all the game changing players have already signed elsewhere. If they panic and start signing players just to appease the fans, all they will be doing is further handicapping themselves on and off the ice.

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