Common Hockey Misconceptions: Offer Sheets

This is the first in a series of short explanations of common misconceptions about hockey and the NHL. Check this blog out tomorrow for the next one, on one-way/two-way contracts.

As the offseason is now upon us, once again the subject of contract offers is being heavily discussed. While the majority of the focus is on pending UFAs, some attention is being paid to potential RFAs and the offer sheets that can be made to them. And once again, many NHL fans are demonstrating their complete lack of understanding when it comes to offer sheets.

What It Is: An offer sheet is a contract agreed to by a restricted free agent and a club other than the one who currently owns his rights. The club owning his rights has the choice of matching the contract or receiving set draft pick compensation from the new team, based on the size of the contract.

Misconception One: Teams Can Steal RFAs From Each Other. This simply isn’t true. The original team always has the right to match the offer sheet as is, with no further negotiation. The player signing an offer sheet has to be comfortable with signing that very same contract with his current team, as that is the most likely outcome. Even if the original team rejects the contract, they will receive set draft pick compensation based on the player’s new salary.

Misconception Two: Players Have No Say. I am constantly seeing fans propose offer sheets to players that would likely have no interest in signing with their franchise. They seem to think that any offer sheet made to a player has to be accepted, but this is definitely not true. We never hear about the actual amount of offer sheets made in an offseason, as they are only made public when the player agrees to them. Unless the player agrees to the offer sheet, nothing happens at all, which is probably by far the most frequent outcome.

Misconception Three: Teams Making Offer Sheets Are Just Interested in Acquiring That Player. Sometimes, there is more to an offer sheet. Teams can structure offer sheets so that they hurt rival teams when they are forced to match them. We saw this in the Shea Weber offer sheet from the Flyers in 2012. The Flyers structured their offer sheet in a front-loaded manner, ensuring that the cash-strapped Predators would be financially crippled by matching the offer. This was considered dirty pool by some.


Current Draft Pick Compensation For Offer Sheets:

2015-16 Averaged Salary Draft Pick Compensation
$1,205,377 and below No compensation
$1,205,377 to $1,826,328 Third-round pick
$1,826,328 to $3,652,659 Second-round pick
$3,652,659 to $5,478,986 First- and third-round pick
$5,478,986 to $7,305,316 First-, second-, and third-round pick
$7,305,316 to $9,131,645 Two first-round picks and a second- and third-round pick
$9,131,645 and above Four first-round picks


Potential 2015-16 Offer Sheet Targets:

Rickard Rakell, ANA

Sami Vatanen, ANA

Tobias Rieder, ARI

Michael Stone, ARI

Torey Krug, BOS

Andrew Shaw, CHI

Tyson Barrie, COL

Seth Jones, CBJ

Val Nichushkin, DAL

Teemu Pulkkinen, DET

Vincent Trocheck, FLA

Matt Dumba, MIN

Kyle Palmieri, NJD

Dylan McIlrath, NYR

Cody Ceci, OTT

Tomas Hertl, SJS

Jaden Schwartz, STL

Vlad Namestnikov, TBL

Sven Baertschi, VAN

Dmitry Orlov, WAS

Tom Wilson, WAS


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