If the Edmonton Oilers and Leon Draisaitl don’t agree to a contract before 10 a.m. MST on Saturday he is open to receive an offer sheet from any of the other 30 NHL teams.
Will a team send him an offer sheet?
Would he sign it?
Would the Oilers match or take the compensation of draft picks?
Since 1986 the NHL has seen 35 offer sheets. On 22 times the team matched and on 13 occasions they let the player walk.
Twenty-five of those offers occurred between 1990-1998. There was no salary cap and teams didn’t shy away from going after superstars. Hall of Famers Scott Stevens (twice), Brendan Shanahan, Joe Sakic, Sergei Federov, Michel Goulet and Teemu Selanne signed offers. So did Petr Nedved, Shayne Corson, Keith Tkachuk, Chris Gratton, Marty McSorley, Matthias Ohlund and others.
The St. Louis Blues sent a whopping eight offer sheets. The Bruins and Rangers sent three, the Sharks and Maple Leafs two while Washington, Calgary, Chicago, Hartford, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Carolina sent one. Ron Caron was the Blues GM for seven of those offer sheets. He clearly wasn’t worried about retribution.
The NHL shied away from offer sheets for eight years, until the Flyers offered Ryan Kesler a one-year deal at $1.9 million in September of 2006. The Canucks matched it. We’ve seen seven since, with the latest being the Calgary Flames’ offer to Ryan O’Reilly on February 28th, 2013. The Colorado Avalanche matched the two-year, $10 million offer.
The last offer sheet to be accepted was Dustin Penner’s five-year, $21.5 million offer by the Oilers. The Anaheim Ducks received a first, second and third round pick in 2008.
Offer sheets are rare, but so is the Oilers’ situation. The Oilers are on the upswing (“Finally!” yells every Oilers fan) and with reports stating Connor McDavid is set to sign an eight-year deal with a $13.25 million cap hit after July 1st, the thought is that now would be a great time to offer sheet Draisaitl and either get him, or hurt the Oilers by having two large contracts.
The theory makes sense, but is it practical for an NHL team? Here is the compensation chart for any offer sheet:
If a team offers Draisaitl a seven-year deal worth $8.5 million/season, the compensation is still four first round picks. Contracts are averaged over five years. The total value of the contract offer, in this case $59.5 million, would be divided by five and would be considered an $11.9 million offer, thus worth four first round picks.
The maximum offer longer than five years a team could send to stay under the threshold for four first round picks, would be a six year deal worth a total of $49 million or a $8.166 million cap hit.
They could offer five years at $9.814 million but that would take Draisaitl to unrestricted free agency and most teams would not want that. Of course they could do it simply to screw over the Oilers if they match it.
It is important to note if a team offers Draisaitl a contract requiring two firsts, a second and a third round pick or four first round picks, they don’t need a first rounder in 2018, per the CBA.
Article 10.4 Draft Choice Compensation for Restricted Free Agents.
Clubs owing three (3) draft selections in different rounds must have them available in the next draft.
Clubs owing two (2) draft selections in the same round, must have them available in the next three (3) drafts.
Clubs owing three (3) draft selections in the same round must have them available in the next four (4) drafts, and so on.
For example, if the Flames offered Draisaitl a six-year deal worth $59 million, which surrenders four first round selections, the Oilers would get the Flames’ first round choice in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. The Flames don’t have a 2018 first rounder, but they could still submit a legal offer sheet.
The Flames could not offer him under $9.813 million because they do not own a second or third round selection in 2018.
WHO COULD MAKE AN OFFER?
How many teams could make an offer?
Based on article 10.4, all 30 teams could make an offer sheet with an average of $9.814,935 over five years.
The following teams could not make one that requires surrendering a 2nd round pick, because they do not own one in 2018: Florida, Ottawa, Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Arizona, Calgary and San Jose.
Toronto and Las Vegas could not offer one which requires a 3rd round pick, because they don’t own their 2018 third rounder.
**Those teams could re-acquire their original pick, or picks in some cases, and then make an offer sheet, but that requires more moves.**
That eliminates ten teams from making an offer between $5.88 million and $9.814 million.
Down to 20 TEAMS
Of the 20 remaining teams how many have the need and cap space to offer Draisaitl a large contract?
Pittsburgh has Crosby and Malkin.
Anaheim has Getzlaf and Kesler on long-term deals with NMC.
Tampa Bay has an abundance of skilled forwards and Nikita Kucherov will get a big raise in two years.
Detroit, surprisingly, only has $7.5 million in cap space, but that will grow to $10.5 million once they place Johan Franzen on LTIR. Their $10 million in goaltending is killing them.
Boston has $12.7 million in cap space, but need to fill five positions. David Krejci is 31 and if they signed Draisiatl, they would move his $7.2 million salary, but it wouldn’t be easy and they’d get pennies on the dollar for Krejci with Draisaitl in the fold.
The New York Islanders want to re-sign John Tavares. Acquiring Draisaitl would show Tavares they want to win now, but if you pay Draisaitl over $9 million, then Tavares will need more next season. Those two will eat up a lot of cap space, and their ability to develop from within will take a big blow with the lost draft picks.
St. Louis needs to re-sign Colton Parayko and they only have $11 million in cap space and they need to add some depth forwards.
Dallas has Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin down the middle and Jamie Benn’s $9.5 million deal on the wings. They need to strengthen their blueline.
The LA Kings have $10.6 million in cap space with only 17 veterans signed. Kopitar and Draisaitl would be a great one-two punch, but they don’t have much cap flexibility.
Nashville needs to re-sign Ryan Johansen this summer. He has has three 60+ point seasons. They also need to sign Viktor Arvidsson. They likely stick with players they know.
Winnipeg has Mark Schiefele. He outscored Draisaitl this past season and makes $6.125 million for the next seven seasons. Do they view Draisaitl being worth $3 million more? I doubt it.
Philadephia just unloaded Brayden Schenn for two first round picks. They have Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on big tickets and only $11 mill in cap space. Their defence needs an upgrade more than their forwards.
Columbus just added Artemi Panarin as their elite skilled forward. They don’t have a true #1 centre, but they have many solid forwards. Cam Atkinson will need a new deal next season and they really like him. They’ve made many big moves the past few years, but I’d be surprised if they threw out a big offer sheet.
7 TEAMS REMAIN
The New York Rangers freed up cap space moving Derek Stepan and buying out Dan Girardi, but it they land UFA Kevin Shattenkirk I think they are out of Draisaitl offer sheet territory. If they don’t land Shattenkirk you can never count them out to make a big splash.
Montreal desperately needs a #1 centre. Marc Bergevin hasn’t been scared to make big deals. Tomas Plekanec’s $6 million deal is off the books next year, and moving Alex Galchenyuk doesn’t seem to bother Bergevin. Carey Price needs a raise next season. If they pay Draisaitl $9 million, Price has to be higher and likely $10 million.
Buffalo needs to re-sign Jack Eichel next season or later this summer. They have a lot of cap space and they might want to make up for missing on Draisaitl in the 2014 draft.
New Jersey has loads of cap space and they need a #1 centre. Draisaitl and Taylor Hall played well together.
Carolina has loads of cap space and could re-acquire the lost picks by moving one of their many young defenders. Their financial situation is a question and I wonder if their owner would want to take on a $9 million ticket.
Vancouver needs some offensive skill. The Sedins are on the back nine of their career. They have lots of cap space and weakening a divisional foe could have benefits.
Colorado is a strong candidate because they seemingly have no direction. They could pay Draisaitl and move Matt Duchene.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
There is a chance because teams might view Edmonton as vulnerable due to the McDavid contract. Forcing them to either match a $9 million+ deal or take the picks would be enticing to teams. However, I only see two western conference teams with the money and need. Are Eastern teams as motivated to weaken a western division team’s salary cap situation? I doubt their motivation would be the same.
The other factor for Colorado, Vancouver and New Jersey is what if they don’t improve enough and the picks end up being lottery picks? When Toronto and Boston avoided the offer sheet and elected to trade Kessel for two first round picks, Boston ended up with the 2nd (Seguin) in 2010 and the 9th in 2011 (Dougie Hamilton).
The other issue is which offer sheet would work?
Signing Draisaitl to a five-year offer takes him directly to unrestricted free agency at the end of his deal. This is very rare. Teams loathe taking a player right to free agency.
They could offer him a three-year deal, but with such a short term, it would be hard to make the final year of the deal very low. So to keep Draisaitl’s rights they would have to qualify him at the same cap hit of over $9 million.
Likely an offer sheet would be a six or seven year offer. The issue with paying him $8.5 million or higher is it would be a big jump from current comparables around the NHL. Any team who writes the offer sheet is now increasing the pay structure for players like Draisaitl.
Right now there are legitimate comparisons. Vladimir Tarasenko in St. Louis has a $7.5 million cap hit. Schiefele signed an eight-year deal with a $6.125 million cap hit last summer. He outscored Draisaitl this year. Draisaitl’s biggest push offensively came on the RW, so they could also use Johnny Gaudreau’s $6.75 million cap hit.
McDavid’s only comparison was Crosby and they had to go back and use a percentage of the overall salary cap to find a cap hit number both sides felt was fair. An arbitrator would use current contracts if it went to arbitration. They wouldn’t use Anze Kopitar’s second contract, for example, and use his percentage of the cap contract.
I understand Draisaitl’s camp will want a big number, that is the agent’s job, but contrary to reports on Wednesday there has been no ask for $10 million per season. The two sides are not on the same page as of this morning, and I expect the agent to try and entice a team to submit an offer sheet. That is how business is done.
A team might bite, but if they do, they will be overpaying based on current contracts, and that is the main reason we don’t see offer sheets very often. A team has to overpay enough to entice a team not to match, and even if some think a large Draisaitl contract would hurt the Oilers’ salary cap, it would, but it would also impact all the other teams around the league. Agents would use the new Draisaitl contract as a comparison.
I know offer sheets are exciting to discuss and debate, and the Oilers situation is unique with McDavid’s massive new deal, but looking around the league there are very few teams I see willing to make an offer.
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