There are lots of ways rebuilding teams can go about acquiring big and important assets. One way to do so is via trade and, with the 2019 trade deadline approaching, we’ll start to see the sellers accumulate their draft picks.
The problem with rebuilding through the draft, though, is that it takes time. Rarely is a player ready to make the jump to the NHL the year after they’re drafted. It takes a few more years of development for prospects to grow into NHL players. It’s a proven method, but it takes time.
One way to speed up the process is to acquire an NHL-ready asset. One that’s proved themselves in the league and immediately makes your team better. So as not to get fleeced in a trade, an offer sheet can be tendered to lure that player to your team.
An offer sheet is a tool that is rarely used in the league, but talk of them has seriously picked up this year. Only last week, Ken Holland admitted in two separate interviews that it’s something he’s considering.
There are two challenges to offer sheets, though. The first is that the player who you are offer sheeting has to want to sign it. So if you’re a rebuilding team, you’ve got to make an impressive sales pitch to make that happen. The second challenge is that they can be expensive. There are different tiers of compensation based on the average annual value (AAV) of the offer sheet, but the most expensive is four 1st round picks for an AAV of $10.15-million.
|Offer Sheet (AAV)||Compensation|
|$1,339,575 or below||None|
|$1,339,576 to $2,029,590||3rd round pick|
|$2,029,591 to $4,059,322||2nd round pick|
|$4,059,323 to $6,088,980||1st & 3rd round picks|
|$6,088,981 to $8,118,641||1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks|
|$8,118,642 to $10,148,302||(2) 1sts, a 2nd, and a 3rd round pick|
|Over $10,148,302||(4) 1st round picks|
I’m not sure any player not named Connor McDavid is worth any team’s next four 1st round picks, which is why I think an offer sheet for Mitch Marner, which would have to be north of $10-million to lure him away from Toronto, is just not worth it.
With this year’s class of restricted free agents, though, there are plenty who can be signed to lower-AAV deals that would be worth it. Here are three RFA players not named Mitch Marner who the Red Wings could offer sheet this offseason that would immediately make their team better.
Jacob Trouba’s name has been linked to Detroit before. In the young defenseman’s last contract standoff with the Jets, it was speculated that Detroit might be a good trade partner because Trouba’s from Michigan and he would fill one of their two biggest roster needs. The Jets finally settled on a contract with a $5.5-million AAV.
They have some big questions when it comes to the salary cap at the end of this year, though. The biggest is no doubt where Patrik Laine’s new deal is going to land. Laine hasn’t done himself any favours with his play this year, but over the last three years we’ve seen flashes of the elite player he can be. He’ll want to get paid like that. Then you layer on new deals for Kyle Connor, Nicolas Petan, and Tyler Myers and it gets even tighter.
Simply put, the Jets may find themselves in a bind when it comes to the salary cap over the next few seasons. The Wings can probably gather enough draft picks through trades at this year’s deadline to offer Trouba an $8-million AAV contract.
Now if I were the Jets, I’d want to keep Trouba over Myers, but they’re situation depends entirely on what kind of value they can get out of their other young players.
Trouba is a right-handed defenseman who is just coming into his prime. He would immediately make this Red Wings team much better.
Steve Yzerman is leaving the Tampa Bay Lightning in quite the bind when it comes to the salary cap and Brayden Point has proven to be a much better player than anyone anticipated. If they’re talking about Marner landing somewhere in the $10-million range, then Point is right up there with him.
There’s no doubt Tampa is going to low-ball him. They’ve got Nikita Kucherov on a great deal which gives them a hard line to take with Point. They’re not going to give him a bigger contract than their best player. But even if Point were willing to take less, Tampa only has a total of $6.3-million in cap space for next season. Yes, the cap is projected to go up, but they’ve also got to address some holes on their blue line.
If they want to extend Point, they really only have one option and that’s to move out another contract. But I’m not writing this to fix the Tampa Bay Lightning. If anything I’m writing this to screw them up even more. If Holland tended an $8.5-million offer sheet to Point, the Lightning wouldn’t be able to match as it currently stands.
Whether the young centerman is worth that compensation package is a more difficult discussion, but he would immediately become the best player on the Red Wings roster.
While everyone’s talking about big number 16, I’m looking a little further down the lineup. Marner is part of the Leafs big 4. They will do whatever they can to keep him. And, frankly, Marner wants to be there.
If one really wanted to create chaos for them, one has to look no further than Kasperi Kapanen. Traded to Toronto as part of the Phil Kessel deal, Kapanen has blossomed into a top-6 winger who can play with the best players in the world. Rounding out the Leafs top-5 pointgetters, Kapanen has 16 goals and 32 assists in 55 games this season.
While I think Kyle Dubas is an excellent general manager who can figure out how to keep them all, he’ll need to re-work his salary cap structure even if he wants to sign Kapanen to a bridge deal for less than he’s worth. Once Marner is done, the Leafs are going to be in a tight spot. If Kapanen were to get an offer sheet for, say, $5-million, it would put Dubas in a real tough spot.
Kapanen wouldn’t immediately become the best player on the Red Wings, but he would fit beautifully in their top-6, knocking perennial 1st liner Justin Abdelkader down the lineup. And the compensation package for a $5-million offer sheet isn’t too expensive either.
I’m not sure Dubas would let an asset like Kapanen go for that price, but it would still be nice to create some chaos in Leafs Land.
Offer sheets come at a high price. For a rebuilding team like the Red Wings, it’s hard to imagine giving up multiple draft picks for a single player. The upside, though, is that the player is a young and proven at the NHL level.
Since none of these offer sheets can be tendered until July 1, 2019 (after the 2019 NHL Entry Draft), we’re talking about our compensation picks being for the 2020 draft. For the Red Wings, that could still be a very high 1st round pick. It really all depends on where they land in the draft this year. If they get Jack Hughes, then maybe an offer sheet for Trouba makes sense, especially if they can collect another team’s 1st round pick in 2020 via trade.
The prospect of offer sheets is an exciting one and it’s even more exciting that Holland’s quotes at the center of it all. It’s the kind of bold move I can get behind, provided it doesn’t sacrifice the future. Let’s make some noise the way we used to and turn the Red Wings back into a contender.