RFA's. Are they ever worth it?

A lot of people think that making offers for RFA’s is a great potential way to grab a good young player and immediately improve your team. But the problem is that the compensation is so heavily favoured for the team who holds the rights to the player.

Here are some of this summers higher end RFA’s, tell me if you would tender them an offer:Compensation works like this:

$773,442 or below None
Over $773,442 to $1,171,882 Third-round choice
Over $1,171,882 to $2,343,765 Second-round choice
Over $2,343,765 to $3,515,647 First-round and third-round choice
Over $3,515,647 to $4,687,530 First-round, second-round and third-round choice
Over $4,687,530 to $5,859,412 Two first-round choices, one second- and one
third-round choice.
Over $5,859,412 Four first-round choices

Now here are a few players, and how much I think it would cost to *maybe lure them away from their current teams:

Phil Kessel, 21 – Boston would never let him go for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder. Well maybe, but I think you’d have to push it. You could paint Boston into a corner by throwing a $5 to $5.5 million dollar offer at Kessel. Boston would get a couple first round picks back.

Would you move 2 first rounders for Phil Kessel and pay him $5 million + ?

David Kreijci, 23 – Coming off a breakout year here’s another guy Boston will not let go without a fight. You’ll have to probably do the same kind of thing as you would for Kessel.

Would you move 2 first rounders for David Kreijci and pay him $5 million + ?

Kris Versteeg, 23 – $4.5 million could put Chicago in a tough spot, since they have several RFA’s to take care of along with UFA Marty Havlatt.

Would you move a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder for Kris Versteeg and pay him $4.5 million?

Jiri Hudler, 25 – Detroit could be in a bit of bind this summer in terms of cap space. Surely a $4 to $4.5 milllion contract offer would be nearly impossible for them to match. That’s more then they’ll be paying Franzen.

But would you surrender those 3 picks for Hudler and pay him that much? I don’t know. Because of Detroit’s cap situation and depending on if they re-sign Hossa, maybe you could steal Hudler for around $3.5 million and save yourself the 2nd round pick. Still would it be worth it?

Ever wanted to punch Lou Lamerello in the face? Make an offer to Travis Zajac. You could put New Jersey in a tough spot to match a good offer fro Zajac, but I wouldn’t. New Jersey is so good at drafting you’d just be feeding the beast with the picks they’d get back.

The New York Rangers will be in a tough spot having to re-sign both Zherdev and Calahan with limited cap room. But again, offering up $3.5 million to steal Calahan wouldn’t be worth losing a first rounder. And making him an offer around $2.2 million or less to only lose a 2nd round pick won’t work because the Rangers will just match that.


It’s basically structured so that you have to overpay in terms of dollars and draft picks to steal a player. The RFA offer sheet system really helps to protect the teams that currently hold the rights to the players. Look at the Dustin Penner example to see that he was not worth the money or the 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks given up for him. A higher profile player like Vanek who’s $7 million offer was matched by Buffalo, could have been let go for 4 first rounders, which is more than fair.

So before anyone goes crazy with what RFA’s you want your team to go after, remember that its almost never worth it.

If anything, you can maybe attack a team who is pressed right up agains the cap and steal a decent young player who is far from a star. Example: Detroit’s Ville Leino. Suppose Detroit gets a deal done with Hudler and Hossa and are in a bind in the middle of the summer and can’t give Leino anything. You could come in and offer him $1.5 million, steal him and surrender a 2nd round pick. Still doesn’t seem worth it…

17 Responses to RFA's. Are they ever worth it?

  1. reinjosh says:

    Ville Leino could be had for 1 million – 1.2 million and then you would only have to surrender a 3rd. seems worth it to me

  2. mojo19 says:

    Ya I agree with you. I said the same thing on my blog actually http://www.nhlkvasni.blogspot.com

  3. KingCanada says:

    Yea it definatly is overpaying but what about desperate teams that need to win NOW.  Take for example Los Angeles Kings who have a ridiculous amount of depth at the prospect level.  I think the Kings could definaly afford to make a big pitch at a Phil Kessel or a David Kreijci.  Hell maybe theyll even make an offer for Josh Harding.

    Can Minnesota afford to pay a backup goalie 2+ million per year?  I dont know.

    Regardless of how lopsided these deals are I still think well see a couple of smaller offer sheets were teams will try and handcuff a team thats presed against the cap and sacrifice a 2nd or 3rd pick in the process.

    A team like Atlanta for example needs to win NOW if they want any shot at landing Kovalchuk.  In retrospect if it doesnt work they are definatly screwed in the longrun..

  4. FrankTheTank3388 says:

    None of those really seem worth it and I think another team would have to offer Kessel or Krejci considerably more than that for Boston not to match it. Honestly, I kind of hope somebody offers Kessel $6 million. I'd rather have 4 first rounders than Kessel. =P

  5. ranger_fan says:

    Lets say in 3 years John Tavares has done well with the Isles but he doesn't want to stay on the Island for a 20 year contract…. if I were the GM of the Rangers I'd certainly offer up a 10 year 100M contract. I don't care if I lose 4 picks. Wang and the Isles have done idiotic things so them not matching is a possibility – and if they do sign him, they could have cap concerns!

  6. mojo19 says:

    Ya i said the same thing about Harding on my blog. Since Backstrom will be making $6 million on his extension, you could make a $2.2 million offer to Harding and steal him for a 2nd round pick. Could be a good deal for lots of teams.

  7. mojo19 says:

    Its true that typically teams will just match. Think about Buffalo matching Vanek's $7 million, they probably should have gone with the draft picks, but in their situation they couldn't from a PR standpoint lose Drury, Briere, and Vanek all in one summer.

  8. mojo19 says:

    Definitely. Typically these types of players are signed to extensions before the summer and teams aren't given the oppurtunity, but if the oppurtunity came up, I could see it happening.

  9. Rico420 says:

    In the case of the Rangers with Zherdev it is a good possibility they may not even tender Zherdev an offer and let him walk as a UFA – also is it possible that Sather works on a buy out on Gomez?

    Not many of the RFA's I feel are worth throwing 4 draft picks at – Kreijci might be if you're an established top end team who finishes between 26 and 30 each year with Cap space…what the hell are the chances of that happening though?

  10. hockeylegend488 says:

    dustin penner sure wasent

  11. Kramer says:

    Polka music should be played at Detroit games. They play way too much pop.


  12. futurebruin says:

    Lol Kramer

  13. Dunski23 says:

    I hope someone offers Kessel that much so we can get 4 Firsts. Krejci is the high end talent we need.Krejci is multi-dimensional, smart, and has great vision on the ice. Kessel…well….toe-drag shoot…anyone who watchs the Bruins knows what I mean when I say that. I can the B's keeping Krejci with a contract the 5-5.5 mil range giving us room to resign Boychuk Hunwick and Bitz and possibly recchi if he doesn't retire.
    Forward lines would look like this in 09/10

    Lucic Savard Sturm
    Wheeler Krejci Ryder
    Kobasew Bergeron Recchi
    Bitz Sobotka Thornton

    As long as Sturm can have a full healthy season, and Wheeler's showing for the last couple months was simply fatigue since he'd never played a season as long or intense as an NHL season I like our chances….plus 4 first rounders from moving Kessel I'm sure would either make good trade bait at the deadline or produce some talent to crack the lineup in up coming seasons

  14. njpenguins08 says:

    The rangers wish they could buy out Gomez! Except doing does not completely eradicate the cap hit you are buying out. It drops to half as much but lasts twice as long. So instead of paying 7.35 mil and having gomez for five years, you would have a 3.65 mil cap hit for no one and it would last for ten years. Probably not the best decision to buy him out, especially with rumors that the cap may actually be potentially lowered next season due to the slow economy.

  15. njpenguins08 says:

    I think that it is only worth it to sign a RFA in two situations: if the player is to be offered 2 mil a year or less or over the 5.8 mil limit. In the first case, the compensation is not that severe. For example, a team may be able to sign Brandon Dubinsky, who made .633 this season to a much bigger deal that is still under that mark. In the second case, consider picking up a player worth that big of a contract. The player must be well established in the NHL to command such a salary and it may be worth the four top draft picks in the process. This was the case for Thomas Vanek. It doesn't make sense for anyone else really because there is always a reason that a player may deserve 5 milliion but not 7. For example, Phil Kessel is an extraordinary player, but he is highly injury prone.

  16. Rico420 says:

    Yeah I guess that is true – so they're saddled with that horrendous contract for a guy who could potentially be a top 5 scorer – maybe he'll take a trade back to the swamp?

  17. mojo19 says:

    I still say that 2nd option really rarely makes sense. I think Buffalo would have been better off to let Vanek walk and take 4 first rounders from Edmonton.

    Either way I hope some GM pulls a Kevin Lowe this summer and makes a pitch for someone. haha maybe get another Burke-Lowe type feud going

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