Since 1997 there have been 11 offer-sheets given to Restricted Free Agents,—three of those eleven have been given out by the Philadelphia Flyers— only two have not been matched. Chris Gratton’s offer from the Flyers was not matched in 1997 by the Tampa Bay Lighting, and in 2007 Dustin Penner signed with the Oilers after the Anaheim Ducks chose not to match Edmonton’s offer.
It’s somewhat of an “unwritten rule” in hockey that you just don’t send out offer sheets to other team’s Restricted Free Agents. So when word broke last month that the Flyers and defensemen Shea Weber had agreed upon a 14-year $110 Million offer sheet it took the league by storm. As most of you know, the Predators matched the Flyers offer, keeping their captain in Nashville.
But now I ask the question, why don’t teams send offer sheets more often? For those of you unfamiliar with how the offer sheet process works I’ll help you out.
An offer sheet is a contract negotiated between an NHL team and a restricted free agent on another team. Once an offer sheet has been signed by a player, the original team cannot negotiate a new contract under different terms or trade the player’s rights. It’s only options are to accept or decline the offer sheet. If the original team chooses to accept, or “match” the offer sheet, the player cannot be traded for one year from the date the offer sheet is matched.
If the original team declines the offer sheet and loses the player, it receives draft picks from the player’s new team as compensation. Compensation for losing a restricted free agent is on a sliding scale, depending on how much the new contract is worth. The exact numbers change every year. The most a team can lose for signing an RFA is four first-round draft picks. For 2011, a team signing a restricted free agent to a contract worth more than $7,835,219 per season loses four first-round picks to the player’s old team. For a contract worth $6,268,176 or more per year, the acquiring team gives up two first-round picks, one second rounder, and one third. There are another four levels of compensation, going down to a contract worth up to $1,034,249 per year, for which there is no compensation. Of course the whole offer sheet process and set-up could change once a new CBA is agreed upon.
Could the Flyers be on to something, something that could be a new trend in the NHL?
After losing out on Shea Weber and then losing defensemen Andreji Meszaros and Andreas Lilja to injuries the Flyers once again could send an offer sheet to another talented defensemen; hello P.K. Subban.
Guys like Evander Kane, Jamie Benn and Michael Del Zotto are all guys many other teams around the league would love to have suiting up for them each night and all three just happen to be unsigned restricted free agents.
Offer sheets just don’t happen too often, but why?
As the Flyers have shown, they don’t care about “unwritten rules” or the chance an angry General Manager may send an offer sheet to one of their restricted free agents down the road.
Quite honestly, I like the Flyers mentality.You want to sign a restricted free agent, you go get him.
I remember all throughout last offseason as Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning struggled to come to terms on a deal, asking why no one sent an offer sheet Stamkos’ way, I mean he’s only one of—if not the—best players in the game. Yes it would have cost said team four first round picks, but so be it, it’s Steven Stamkos. And as the numbers over the past ten years show, the Lightning would have most likely matched the offer.
My overall point here is teams sending out offer sheets would make the game more interesting and force teams to really show the value they place on their own.
Next offseason the Bruins have five guys who are set to be restricted free agents which includes the likes of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask.
Three young talented players with bright futures who could easily bring in an offer sheet and force Peter Chiarelli’s hand, as much as that would suck from a Bruins, and Bruins fans standpoint, wouldn’t it be interesting to see?
We’ve seen that Paul Holmgrem is not afraid to throw offer sheets around; maybe other General Managers around the league should be more brave.