The Restricted Free Agent Market could be hot…

Since Kevin Lowe got the ball rolling last summer with his play on Dustin Penner, it looks like the restricted free agent market this year could be even hotter. There are many teams desperate to grab a superstar, or potential up and coming superstar, and the offer sheet has become a great way to achieve this. This is even more true for teams who have difficulty attracting unrestricted free agents.

Potentially available this year via the offer sheet includes the following: Corey Perry, Antoine Vermette, Mike Green, Pascal LeClaire, R.J. Umberger, Jeff Carter, Randy Jones, Marc-Andre Fleury, Valterri Filpula, Matt Stajan, Chuck Kobasew, Marek Svatos, Woltek Wolski, Marcel Goc, Christian Erhoff, Joni Pitkanen, and Pier-Marc Bouchard among others.

It goes without saying that teams will do their best to lock up their own RFA’s before July 1st rolls around. That said, some teams will be hard pressed to do this without making some significant moves.

Anaheim for instance, pending the status of Scott Niedermeyer, could be hard-pressed to match any offer made on Corey Perry. Similarly, Ottawa and Philadelphia may have difficulties in deciding who to hand out big contracts too. If Wade Redden takes a pay cut to stay in the nation’s capital, the Sens will still have to pass on certain contract renewals. Even Colorado will have to look to the future and decide who they need to keep. Adam Foote, Peter Forsberg, Jose Theodore, and Joe Sakic could eat up a huge chunk of the payroll previously reserved for the budding Svatos and Wolski.

Keeping all that in mind, and any other potential team building problems, one has to wonder how much these guys are worth to struggling teams. If Dustin Penner got 4.25 million per year, how much is Jeff Carter worth? Would a team like Columbus cough up 5 or 6 million, or more on an offer sheet for him? Would the Leafs do the same for Corey Perry? Could the Panthers use a sniper like Svatos alongside Olli Jokinen? Almost definetly the answer is yes.

This year has seen some young talent develop a long way towards superstardom. Teams will be shaken up this summer to accomodate this growth. Even teams who seem relatively safe from this upcoming jumble need to look to the future. For example, Pittsburgh can likely ill-afford to keep Malkin, Crosby, Staal, Fleury, and potentially Hossa.

The only obstacle in place of this flurry of offer sheets which could be happening in the NHL very soon, is the fact that next summer is poised to be even crazier. Some teams might hold onto their pennies in order to attract even bigger names like: Jordan Staal, Eric Staal, Nikolai Zherdev, Jason Pominville, Joffrey Lupul, Chris Higgins, Anze Kopitar, Kyle Brodziak, Paul Stastny, and of course, Evgeni Malkin.

So now the questions remain, who will move where, and for how much? If a team knows they will likely be unable to match offer sheets, is it smarter to trade that player away and get something immediate in return, or sit on the rewarded draft picks? Should teams who have hot RFA’s (ie. Malkin) trade them this summer for huge returns and not risk losing value? Who would you target to improve your team?


43 Responses to The Restricted Free Agent Market could be hot…

  1. lukeleim says:

    I don't think the Leafs are in any position to make an offer to a RFA.

  2. Habs_pm says:

    Jeff Carter & Corey Perry will get offer sheets or be traded.

  3. Rico420 says:

    There definately are some groin grabingly good RFA's out there this summer.

  4. habstruefan says:

    flurry of offer sheets wont be happening this year.Say it like you want its bad business.Other than the leafs,teams are not that desperate to go that route.kevin lowe was desperate last year and i dont think it will help his cause in the future.I dont think his move was anough to fuel a flurry of offer sheets like your saying,

  5. habsrock99 says:

    One name you forgot to mention was Andrei Kostitsyn and I doubt I'm alone on this but I'd most definitely take him over Umberger, Jones, Stajan, Goc, Ehrhoff and Pitkanen. Hell I'd go as far as taking him over Filpulla and Kobasew, maybe even Wolski and Svatos.

    People are going to say "Oh, well of course you would, he plays for the Habs and you're a Hab fan" well you know what, if you look at the HTR archives, you'll most definitely find a Hab article talking about this season and you'll find comments where I said that I didn't believe Andrei had what it took to be a legitimate NHL player.

    And when he started as slow as he did(something like 2 or 4 points in his first 15-25 games), it was looking like I was right. But he's matured faster then most of those players have and has me gladly eating my words. After that slow start, he's put up something like 48 points in his last 50 games, which included an 8 game pointless drought. He's been dynamic all season and if Gainey lets him become an RFA, I personally guarantee he will get an offer sheet.

    If anyone wants a player comparison of Kostitsyn, he's Kovalev minus the attitude. And what's scary is that Sergei's a much better player then Andrei.

  6. habstruefan says:

    totally agree with you.I love both the kostitsyn and gainey will make sure he keep the two together.svatos to me is the better player out of the ones you mention.I would take Andrei over the rest.

  7. SimFlyer81 says:

    As a Flyers fan i would love Jeff Carter to stay, but the tempation of letting him go if someone is stupid enough to offer him 5 mill is tempting, because is that not worth 4 first round picks. alot can happen in 4 years. or even trade them up so please let the 5 min offer sheets roll in.  Sorry Jeff.

  8. senators101 says:

    Perry will stay in anaheim.  I wouldn't be surprised if an offer sheet will be thrown at him, but anaheim will match if it happens.  and I also don't think Burke will let him stay restricted past july 1 after what happened last year.

  9. cam7777 says:

    I dunno, I think there's going to be quite a few desperate teams.  Teams like Columbus, Atlanta and Florida are all going to want to improve pretty badly.  You can't have a franchise that just continually tanks despite stock-piling your draft picks.  All three aforementioned teams have difficulty attracting UFA's.  Even St. Louis and Tampa could be looking pretty hard at some offer sheets.  After all, St. Louis went out and spent the money to get Kariya, and brought back Tkachuk and all the rest and it still hasn't pushed them over the edge.  Vancouver still seems to struggle to score and similar to the Leafs, gets mostly mediocre draft order of late….etc….

  10. LeafsNation91 says:

    I think the Leafs should go into restricted free agency. But nothing drastic where we have to give up a first rounder. I think the Leafs should only spend 2.2 million and only give up a secound rounder. Toronto can hopefully find young talent that in the RFA, that wont end up making them lose a first rounder. I think that would be a smart route.

    Players I would target are:

    Daniel Paille(Young talented, 2.2 mill, maybe Buffalo does not want to pay that)
    Marek Svatos(Colorado…Alot of salary already)
    Chuck Kobasew(He can score)
    Marcel Goc

    Players that might be over the 2.2 million range:

    Jeff Carter
    Andrei Kostistyn

    See what could be possibly do and hopefully it might turn out. I think that the Leafs should though not give up a first rounder by all means, that would be stupid, and maybe Ferguson would of done that, but I do not think Fletcher will.

  11. cam7777 says:

    yea, no doubt that's all true.  I didn't really think about him to tell you the truth, but in hindsight, he doesn't belong on the list anyways, because Gainey is too clever to let him slip through his fingers.  Is it possible to be a Habs fan and a Leafs fan? ha

  12. SimFlyer81 says:

    One downfall to the whole offer sheet scenario is that it will drive up the prices on all teams and could be used as a way of weakening teams. All it takes is for teams that fear the lineup or potential lineups of teams to place offer sheets that they don't intend on honoring (Banking on the fact that a team will match that offer) and next thing you know Svatos is signed to 5 mil a year and that is clearly not reasonable. I think the whole system needs to be watched very closely. maybe make it mandatory that to place and offer sheet it automatically costs you a 3rd round pick(Before compensation if player signs with you) or something, because i can see this getting right out of hand! An causing lower grade players too earn more then the Malkins will demand more and next thing you know were back were we started. NO SEASON! Its sad it has got to the stage where it is all about the $$$ on both sides.


  13. turdfergusson says:

       The downside of this new trend is that good teams can pluck away future stars and not worry about having to give up a high pick at the draft. The good is that if a team like Toronto can somehow dump a few of those crazy contracts they could be back in the fold right away.  There's also a ton of great young players these days to go around so I guess it could balance itself out.


  14. kamullia says:

    I think the RFA market will see maybe one or two offer sheets this and next off-season, but not something on a regular basis. Especially not at the (relative high at the time) prices that Clarke and Lowe threw around. It’s a matter of economics and unless the cap grew higher and higher by $3-4M each single season, the market cannot take-in those prices because it affects everyone else accross the board. At some point, the market will cool off and balance out because of economics (let alone the picks price tags) and force teams to almost forget offer sheets.

    The only caveat being that when the CBA gets renegotiated or revised, if the NHLPA insists (and they will at least try) to realign the $ amounts as to what compensation they generate into a higher scale, then it would open the possibility to continued sheets. In other words, if instead of $5M+ being the top of the scale for 4 1st round draft picks, the scale gets shifted to say$7M or even higher than that, then there will continue to be offer sheets.

    What’s curious is that in theory both the NHLPA and the owners are philosophically against RFAs offers, and this is their reasoning when they cite the amount of picks at not so high prices. In reality, the entire NHLPA likes to have offer sheets because it balloons salaries, but they are also afraid of too much turn around of players. The owners are obviously set against offer sheets, except the financially rich teams because they have a mentality of simply plucking away the best players instead of developing them and I think that will continue to be their trend. Lately with the downturn of the dollar (which favors Canadians) it seems virtually all Canadian teams are for sheets. A total contradiction from not so long ago when most of those teams were in financial trouble and crying for an even field. They best not wish things get turned again, especially in Edmonton.

    I think for the sake of all fans, teams and owners, it would be best if those offer sheets went the way of the dinosaurs. They will just translate into higher ticket prices and further isolate rink crowds to a financial class that does not really reflect the majority of the fans. I don’t know about everyone else, but I want to see all social classes able to attend hockey games, especially with the entire family. It is becoming to the point that the only kids you see in the crowd are the seats next to the ice because the rest of the attendance cannot afford to bring themselves and their family. All kids should be able to attend games as far as I’m concerned. I would not cry one bit if they made the first 4 rows in all rinks exclusive to ages 15 and under.

  15. BruMagnus says:

    The Pens will be fine, don't you worry.
    Unless they got 4 1st round picks from LA or TB, they wouldn't let their stars go.

  16. wayne2 says:

    I doubt there will be a lot(if any) offer sheets for RFA's.Last year,Edmonton got Dustin Penner at a ridicilusly high price and was it really worth it?They made a stupid offer to Vanek as well and all that was accomplished was to force a small budget team to pay way to much.Its not worth it for the NHL in general.As an Ottawa fan i think its time to part with Redden.He just hasnt been the same since his mom died(tragic for him but he's paid to plys hockey and just isnt playing good hockey anymore).Lee and Meszaros can take his spot as offensive defensemen and will come much cheaper.
    Meszaros/Commodore(i hope they sign him as i believe he will adjust)

  17. timber says:

    The Penguins better lock up Malone. He averages 20 plus goals a year, he fights, he plays the body, he excels in high traffic areas, he reminds me of a young Gary Roberts with better hands. Mark my words, Ryan Malone will be regarded as a play-off warrior before his career is over. Lock him up Ray…lock him up!

  18. CanadianbornPlaya says:

    Kostitysn is one of the most attractive RFA's out there. 25 goals+. He can skate with the best players in the NHL (Skating is so important these days).  Beautiful hands. 6' 200lbs at 23 years old. The kicker is his contract. He isn't making anything. If he is making 1mil a sesaon i am really suprised. This means that compensation will be minimal. This is why Bob will lock him up early. He is too valueable. He's on the big line, he loves Kovy and Plecks, and he and his brother get to play in the NHL on the same team.

    It is not possible to be a Hab and Leaf fan. It is possible to realize that the Leafs have helped to create the Habs, and the Habs have helped to create the Leafs, and neither organization would be as far along without eachother. I respect the Leafs franchise because they are warriors in the greatest game ever but I love to see them LOSE. You can cheer for another Canadian team if yours is out(except Ottawa), that doesn't make you a fan of that team, just a fan of the game. I can think of atleast one or two times that I cheered for the Leafs this year.

  19. CanadianbornPlaya says:

    I read somewhere that the Canadians gave one free ticket to every fifth grader in the MTL area. Something about kids choosing their favorite form of entertainment at that age. I like the 15 and under idea but it would need to be tweaked. Kids are evil.

  20. careyprice31 says:

    Ya or the penguins

  21. careyprice31 says:

    I doubt it very much the leafs will go after any players on the ra market. If they are gonna be arebuilding phase u keep your draft picks u sign a restricted free agent i believe u have to give up 3 draft picks i never understood it how it works, but ya so if i were leafs i wouldn't sign anyone of the restricted free agents

  22. HABSSTAR says:

    I think it all evens out in the end.  To get an RFA you basically have to offer them more then they are worth, because if not the team with his rights will just match.  Unless they are in a financial mess.  This means you have to inflate your salary scale for deminishing returns, while giving up 3 picks for what could end up being an average player.  I think it's a bit of playing with fire.  

    I get the feeling you'll maybe see an initial run on RFAs for a year or two but then it'll come back to earth when GM's get beat over the head with their own draft picks that they just made better because they actually weakened their team by spending too much on too little.  

  23. UsedandAbused says:

    The Flyers have to find a way to hold on to Umberger and Carter and get them signed long term. I think they will find a way.

  24. HABSSTAR says:

    Ya did you see HNIC was talking to one of the Clowns from MLSE about if they were thinking about doing the same thing.  Like those money grubbing dinks would even contemplate giving away a ticket lol!

  25. 27roenick97 says:

    the flyers will resign carter, probably around 4-4.5mil per and four or five years. umberger is a dispensible commodity when guys like van riemsdyk and giroux are in the wings–in addition to lesser prospects like patrick maroon, andreas nodl, etc. organizationally, the flyers have an absolutely incredible farm for wingers and umberger is a dispensible commodity, especially if some middling team signs him to a sheet that has a 1st, 2nd and 3rd coming back this way.

    they do not have the depth at center–beyond what you see with the big club, it isn't any good. thus, the flyers will probably rotate young wingers and cheap vets around their three centers for many years to come.

    …at least thats what i see happening

  26. UsedandAbused says:

    How much would it take a year to sign Umberger? Shouldn't be that much.

    Also they need to find a stud goaltender. Somehow!

  27. SabresFan220 says:

    I am really getting sick of the "Buffalo are a bunch of penny pinchers so they won't keep anyone good" crap I keep hearing. Dan Paille will not be allowed to walk away unless 4 1st rounders are coming in return for him. I think the Sabres will be dumping some forwards with 1 year deals (Kotalik, Afinogenov) that they won't be able to keep after the season is over. They will have some money to give to players like Paille and extending Pominville, Miller, and other key players. After letting players like Briere and Drury walk, and deciding that Campbell isn't worth $7 million a year (and whoever signs him for that will learn why he's not) they will keep players they identify as the core of the team (Roy, Vanek, both already signed long term).

  28. LeafsNation91 says:

    I never meant Buffsalo was a penny pincher, they just have alot of players to lock up like Roy, Afinogenov, Pominville, Stafford and others. Maybe they wont keep Paille and focus on their better, younger talent. Kevin Lowe is stupid, you should of taken the four first rounders, it would of done better for the team.

  29. LeafsNation91 says:

    Fletcher said he will look into restricted free agency, and I don't think he will give up a first rounder in the matter, just maybe a second. Its another way Toronto can find good young players.

  30. SimFlyer81 says:

    So would you be against another team taking carter on an offer sheet and receiving some decent pics and keeping Umberger because from what everyone keeps talking about Carter is the one they want!  He is not worth 4 to 4.5 yea and i say yet.

  31. habsoverserver says:

    Kostitsyn was a draft day steal who fell several places due to illness worries.  He has the speed, puck handling and shooting skills to be a first line wing for 10 years.  Gainey will make him a first priority.  Given the chemistry he has with his linemates, Montreal's success and the presence of his brother on the team, I am certain the Kostitsyn would be happy to sign a multiyear contract. 

  32. TheDonkey says:

    There is a salary cap in place. Money being given to RFA’s with potential is coming out of the hands of overpriced, over-the-hill veterans who are UFA’s. There is no threat whatsoever to the season.

    Go Swans!

  33. Rickler says:

    What about Shea Weber/Ryan Suter?

  34. SimFlyer81 says:

    What i mean is that if teams start to use offer sheets to gain players of a certin quality and start to over pay them then players that are better than them will request more and as it snow balls we are right back where we started with over the top salaries, eventually it will come to get rid of the cap or lower salaries, what you think the players will choose?

    By the way Goodes was lucky, give him 2 weeks lol.

  35. LittleViking26 says:

    Quick question, is Gaborik up for RFA or UFA?


  36. ovechkin8 says:

    I really hope the oilers trade that terrible signingof Dustin Penner at the draft and then put an offersheet to a guys like wolski,svatos,kostitsyn,bouchard someone like that who can take over the 1st line left winger

  37. BillyGambles says:

    I feel they'll prolly hold on to Umberger, but I think Carters going via offer sheet somewhere. And that's not too bad considering we pay lil more attention to the Defense.

    Oh, and I see us signing Jones and losing Smith to the Devils. Richards wears the "C" next year.

  38. BillyGambles says:

    As a Flyers fan, I say Carters going to be gone. I don't see it in the flyers interest to pay him a big money contract, when we can use that money elsewhere in the lineup.

  39. BillyGambles says:

    Agree and agree. Umberger should be a easy sign Carter would prolly go.
    Somehow we need to get a stud goaltender but I dont see that happening just yet, besides a little revamping on the blue line is whats going to happen until we can somehow find a suitable replacement for Biron which may take forever and a day. Until that Biron is our man, and we'll stake strong D-men in front of him with what cash is there from letting Jeff Carter go and say Jason Smith.

  40. the_next_agent says:

    i dont understand why everyone thinks the Flyers can or will try and sign Carter.  They have Briere and Richards already down the middle.  The reason why Carter is so good is because he is at Center.  I think they will trade him for a young D-Man or Winger that has the same potential as Carter, or the Flyers could get a proven 30 year old and try and make another leap to the top of the East.

  41. TheDonkey says:

    RFA’s or not, there is going to be huge pressure to raise the cap and salaries from the players. As long as the cap is based on league revenues things will be okay.

    I think a lot is being made about “overpaying” based on potential. Nobody seems to balk when someone is overpaid even though his best years are behind him. Tons of UFA’s are overpaid, so what is the difference?

  42. broc says:

    the problem with the Flyers is, they should never have signed Briere to that ridiculous contract in the first place.

    It doesn't seem so bad right now as Briere is in his offensive prime and likely will stay that way for a few more years. But, he's pretty one dimensional, if he's not scoring points he's going to be pretty useless. I don't think anyone will argue his defensive game is strong.

    8 year contract with 6.5 million dollars against the cap is crazy for him, because when he's done that contract he'll be almost 38 years old. How many top-line NHL'ers are there who are 38? Even worse is that he's small- and most small guys are a shadow of their self once they lose that step of speed. When Briere is 35, 36, 37 years old… and potting 15 goals a season the Flyers will be fudged.

    I'd much rather have Carter on my team than have Briere for that crazy amount. Now Philly has to kiss Carter goodbye- or pay him good $$$ to be their 3rd line center. Terrific.

    But like I said, Briere is in his offensive prime now, so it doesn't seem so bad yet. It's the last half of his contract that will hamstring the Flyers.

  43. jimbob says:

    I would love to see Suter/Weber/Green in a sens uniform

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