Rumour Roundup: Oilers not worried about an offer sheet, Sharks trying to move Erik Karlsson, and more
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
On July 1, Evan Bouchard’s entry-level contract will officially come to an end and he’ll become a restricted free agent.
Until he inks a new deal with the Edmonton Oilers, the thought of another team inking Bouchard to an offer sheet will inevitably linger. The Oilers don’t have very much salary cap room this summer and matching an offer sheet would be difficult.
Offer sheets are uncommon but not impossible. In the salary cap era, 10 players have signed offer sheets and only two of them weren’t matched. The Oilers signed Dustin Penner to a five-year, $21.5 million contract in 2007 and the Carolina Hurricanes signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1 million deal in 2021.
If Bouchard were to sign an offer sheet in the $4,290,126 – $6,435,186 annual salary range, the Oilers would surely just match it and find another contract to shed. The next rung up, which involves contracts worth $6,435,187 – $8,580,250 annually and requires a first-, second-, and third-round pick as compensation, would be more difficult for the Oilers to handle.
It’s important to remember that offer sheets require both sides to agree to the deal. The Oilers traded away Tyson Barrie and now Bouchard is the quarterback of one of the best power-play units in the history of the league. It’s hard to imagine a better situation for a young player entering the prime of his career.
Oilers general manager Ken Holland told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic that he isn’t worried about the threat of an offer sheet for any of the team’s restricted free agents. Holland mentioned signing Ryan McLeod to a one-year contract last summer as a blueprint for how he’ll go into negotiations with Bouchard in the coming weeks.
“[Evan Bouchard] is a big part of our team. He runs the power play. I traded Tyson Barrie away. I’ve got to work with his agents to find a solution that he’s comfortable with. He’s not signing anything he doesn’t like. I’m not signing him to anything I don’t like.We found a solution a year ago with McLeod on a one-year deal. I’ve got to find a deal that works for the Bouchard camp and works for the Oilers.”
If Bouchard agrees to a cheap one-year deal for 2023-24, he’ll again be a restricted free agent next summer but this time with the ability to go to salary arbitration. It’s expected that the salary cap ceiling will make its first significant jump since before the pandemic next summer, so the Oilers will have more flexibility to offer Bouchard a multi-year deal.
Edmonton’s other two major restricted free agents, McLeod and Klim Kostin, are both arbitration-eligible. McLeod did Holland a favour by signing a one-year, $798k contract last year and he’ll be looking for a raise this time around. Kostin is an interesting case because he could opt to return to the KHL on a higher-paying deal than what the Oilers could offer. Both players scored 11 goals in 57 games in 2022-23 and would see their salaries doubled on one-year contracts through arbitration.
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The Sharks are working on trading Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson was one of the best stories in the NHL this year. The 32-year-old bounced back following multiple underwhelming, injury-riddled seasons and put together one of the most impressive showings by a defenceman in this generation. He scored 101 points in 82 games and became the first blueliner to hit the 100-point plateau since Brian Leetch did so in 1991-92.
Despite the Norris Trophy performance from Karlsson, the Sharks had their worst season since their expansion days in the mid-1990s. They went 22-44-16 and finished fourth last in the league’s standings.
Pierre LeBrun reported on TSN’s Insider Trading program that Karlsson’s representatives and the Sharks had a meeting last week about the player’s future and the two sides agreed the best path forward was to “try and get a trade done” for next season.
There were rumours flying everywhere that the Sharks would cash in on Karlsson’s bounce-back performance and trade him ahead of the deadline but executing a trade during the season was almost impossible because of his contract. Karlsson has four more years left on his deal at $11.5 million annually and can essentially decide where he goes because the contract features a no-movement clause.
The Oilers were among the teams who were said to have interest in Karlsson during the season but it’s almost impossible to imagine given the team’s salary cap situation and the way Holland has spoken repeatedly about the team coming back in the fall looking very similar to how they did in the spring.
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