Last summer, an NHL player was successfully poached via an offer sheet for the first time since 2007, way back when Dustin Penner went from the Edmonton Oilers to the Anaheim Ducks.
This time, it was Jesperi Kotkaniemi going from the Montreal Canadiens to the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year, $6.1 million contract that netted Montreal first and third-round picks. They found the poison pill, a one-year deal with a number way above what Kotkaniemi would have otherwise earned. On the first day eligible in March, Kotkaniemi promptly signed an eight-year, $38.6 million deal that makes him the Hurricanes’ second line center of the future.
Should we expect more poaching this summer? History would suggest not. There have been just 10 offer sheets signed in the 16 offseasons of the salary cap era – and only two have been successful.
But Kotkaniemi’s was the second offer sheet tabled in three summers, and with a flat salary cap squeezing most clubs, now might be the best time to strike with limited money to be dished out to deserving and key restricted free agents.
The compensation brackets for offer sheets has also increased to the point where it’s possible to make a solid player an offer without being crushed on the draft picks required.
Let’s have a little fun. The usual caveats apply. Knowing full well that offer sheets are rare, that the player must be willing to sign it, and that one team needs to be the aggressor in offering it, let’s take a look at seven potential offer sheet candidates:
1. Martin Necas
Right Wing, Carolina Hurricanes
Stats: 78 GP, 14 G, 26 A, 40 points
Pending RFA, Career Earnings: $3.046 million
Scoop: It doesn’t quite feel like this feud between the Canes and Canadiens is over, does it? First Sebastian Aho, then revenge with Kotkaniemi. Sure, there is a new regime in Montreal. But it’s the same owner, and the the same Montreal fan base, and they both have long memories. Carolina is in a bit of a cap bind. They have $19 million to spend on seven players. Montreal has money to play with, especially if Carey Price is going to be out. Necas certainly fits Montreal’s age range. They’ve got a bevy of picks. Could you imagine if Montreal repays the favor and lands the better player? We’re here for that chaos.