Yesterday rumor maven Spector presented the following in his mailbag section:
My thanks to “John” for the following: Glen Macnow, a former sports reporter for the Phila Inquirer (hockey)and a current talk show host on WIP radio, said that he hears that the concept of not pursuing restricted free-agents, as was the case last year, may be changing. Macnow said what he hears is that the Flyers may make a significant offer to Thomas Vanek, thus forcing the Sabres to match. If they do not, the Flyers get themselves a young scorer. If they do, it makes it all the more unlikely that the Sabres can keep Drury or Briere, or even both.
An interesting rumor, sure, but does it have anything to do with the Caps?
As the Summer Of Change (SOC) draws ever closer, we’ve heard†Caps’ management say that not only will they be bringing new players into the fold, but will be doing so aggressively, considering all avenues in adding talent to the roster. One of those avenues may be tendering an offer sheet to another team’s Restricted Free Agent.
Tendering an offer sheet to another team’s RFA has been a relatively rare occurrence, with last year’s Ryan Kesler sheet from Philadelphia being the most recent, and traditionally tendering an offer sheet seems to be frowned upon by the hockey community, despite being a legal and agreed-upon path of player acquisition. The stigma on tendering an offer sheet seems to be that the GM in question who does it is somehow violating the unwritten code between the league’s management, poaching players, particularly young ones, from peers’ rosters. Such a violation is speculated to result in an unwillingness from the management community at large in dealing with the general manager who broke ranks, or that the offending GM will have his young RFA’s poached in return.
The guess here is that is going to change, and offers similar to Philadelphia’s to Kesler will become more common.
Any team losing a player to another team’s offer sheet is entitled to draft pick compensation, as seen below (taken from the CBA):
GROUP 2 COMPENSATION CHART OFFER SHEET COMPENSATION
- $660,000 or below None
- Over $660,000 to $1 million Third Round
- Over $1 million to $2.0 million Second Round
- Over $2.0 million to $3.0 million First Round and Third Round
- Over $3.0 million to $4.0 million First Round, Second Round, and Third Round
- Over $4.0 million to $5.0 million Two First Rounds, Second Round, and Third Round
- Over $5 million Four First Rounds
The ‘sweet spot’ seems to be in the $1 million to $2 million range†– for instance, Marek Svatos made $1.05 million this season. An offer sheet similar to Kesler’s could pay him up to $1.99 million, and the offering team would only lose a second-round pick if Svatos signed and Colorado didn’t want to match.
And there the two conditionals make their appearance: Firstly, did the player sign the offer sheet, and secondly, does the team match?
Number one is pretty easy†– there doesn’t seem to be much downside to a player signing an offer sheet if he considers the offering club to be a good destination. Once he gets that offer sheet and signs it, he’s going to be paid that amount, wherever he ends up playing. If the player thinks†he can make more than the offer sheet, then it wouldn’t make sense for him to sign, however. (Svatos might be a good example of that.)
Number two isn’t quite as simple, as the targeted team suddenly has their budget thrown out of whack, with a new pay rate suddenly changing the landscape of negotiations. This can be especially problematic for teams who are close to the salary cap ceiling, as their balance sheet suddenly takes an unexpected turn. Can they afford to pay the new price to the player in question? Is it wise to?
With teams seemingly valuing draft picks less than ever, we could see clubs willing to pay the price for a player now, and leaving the drafting and developing to other teams. Organizations with plenty of draft picks and/or prospects in their system might feel they are in a position where they can afford to pass up adding to their pool of developing talent for a year in order to secure the services of a current NHLer.
The kind of team that would tender an offer sheet would seem to have a comfortable amount of cap space, a solid base of prospects and draft picks, and a desire to improve in the short-term.
Remind you of any team you know?
All salary numbers taken from nhlnumbers.com