Restricted free agency is a funny thing in all sports, including the NHL. To simplify the process: a player is given a chance to make some money by garnering offer sheets from other teams, but his current franchise can match any offer. Of course, the interesting wrinkle comes when an interested party throws out an offer that’s a little too rich for the host team’s liking. It’s what happened when the Edmonton Oilers (hysterically) infuriated then-Ducks GM Brian Burke by snatching Dustin Penner and kind-of-didn’t happen when Burke traded for Phil Kessel and then signed him to a new deal.
The Sharks have two rather large restricted free agent situations, but for the sake of completion, here’s a list of all of their RFAs.
After the jump, I’ll try to get a general idea of the value of their two big RFAs: Joe “The Big” Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi.
It’s wise to look at precedent when judging a player’s value, especially in situations like these. So here are four players who can serve as rather interesting “measuring sticks.”
Kris Versteeg ($3.08 million cap hit)
Jordan Staal (4)
Nicklas Backstrom (6.7)
2009-10 season stats: 25 goals, 26 assists for 51 points in 67 games
2009-10 playoff stats: 9 goals, 8 assists for 17 points
From the middle of the Colorado series through most of the tussle with Detroit, Pavelski was one of the hottest players in the NHL. He was the first player to put together three multi-goal games since Mario Lemieux, for goodness sakes. Unfortunately for his contract situation, he simmered down quite a bit toward the end, collecting two assists in the last two games after being blanked for five consecutive games.
Even so, he finished the playoffs with a point-per-game pace and 25 goals in 67 games is pretty nice for a player who can win faceoffs, play a gritty game and do just about everything else. To me, he’s a rich man’s Jordan Staal but it remains to be seen if he can make Kessel-type money.
My wild guess: More than Staal, less than Kessel. Perhaps $5 million per year? Don’t count out a team thinking he has the stuff to be a No. 1 center, though.
2009-10 season stats: 20 goals, 16 assists for 36 points in 70 games
2009-10 playoff stats: 5 goals, 4 assists for 9 points
Before Dany Heatley stole his spot running shotgun with Joe Thornton, Setoguchi looked like he was going to make serious bank after scoring 31 goals in his first full season with the Sharks. Now, putting up 20 tallies isn’t half-bad, but the right-handed winger’s price tag had to take a tumble after losing the Jumbo Joe effect. You think he feels a little jealous that Jonathan Cheechoo was able to rob the bank before people realized how much his success depended on Thornton’s genius passing?
Setoguchi could still be a very valuable asset since the Sharks will probably be quite a bit less loaded next season, though. While I think it’s possible that Pavelski could get snatched up for a bevy of picks, Setoguchi’s solid-but-unspectacular season will keep him in teal for a semi-reasonable price.
My wild guess: Slightly more than Versteeg, less than Staal. Perhaps something in the $3.5-$3.75 million range?
Again, the big wild card is Pavelski. His masterful first two playoff rounds could make things awfully interesting. Do you think someone will summon the “ghost” of Kevin Lowe and overpay “The Big Pavelski” this off-season?