The Montreal Canadiens are the only team that has used the offer sheet route lately. Will they do it again?
The Montreal Canadiens sent shockwaves around the hockey world last year when they signed a player to an offer sheet. We seldom see the tactic used, and it is not often successful, but the Habs tried it anyway.
An offer sheet is when a team sign a restricted free agent from another team to a contract. The player’s current team is allowed to match the offer if they wish, or lose the player but be compensated for losing the young free agent.
The compensation is in draft picks, but the number of them depends on how much the player is signed for.
When the Canadiens signed Sebastian Aho to a five-year, $42 million contract, the compensation would have been first, second and third round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft. Of course, we know the Carolina Hurricanes matched the offer and kept their star young player and kept him. It was the first attempted offer sheet we have seen in six years.
We haven’t seen a player switch teams due to an offer sheet since Dustin Penner was signed away from the Anaheim Ducks by the Edmonton Oilers in 2007.
But could this year be different? With the flat salary cap and team’s revenues literally stopping back in March and no one selling a ticket since then, some teams could be more vulnerable.
Not only is there less revenue for each team, but the salary cap was projected to rise significantly this offseason and likely even more following the 2020-21 campaign since the Seattle Kraken would be joining and paying their franchise fee to all other teams. Also, the U.S. TV deal is up in 2021 and a large increase in revenue for viewers in America was expected.
Now? Teams have no idea what to expect. They don’t know when they can expect to start selling tickets and playing games again. So it will be more difficult for some teams to find cap space to keep their players and very tough for some teams to pony up for a big signing bonus today.
The Montreal Canadiens though? They can afford to dole out a big payday today to new free agents. Could they try and sign another offer sheet?
If the Canadiens are going to go down the offer sheet route again, these three teams are especially vulnerable and would have a hard time matching an offer.