Why restricted free agents don't see much action

marcstaal.jpgSo you’re a bit disheartened that things have slowed down on Day 2 of the free agency frenzy and you’re still wondering when Ilya Kovalchuk is going to either come to his senses or run away and hide with a huge contract. That’s understandable, but what gives with the lack of action for all of those restricted free agents (otherwise known as Group II free agents, full list found here) from teams that aren’t their own? Oh sure, we remember past offer sheets for Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner drawing the ire of Darcy Regier and Brian Burke alike (and earning Kevin Lowe an instant enemy in Burke), but those were different, more spend-crazy times.

Now? The price for offering up an offer sheet to a player and having the team holding his rights giving that player away are steeper than you might understand, and not just from the standpoint of creating an instant front office enemy either. Say you’re interested in Bobby Ryan in Anaheim and want to fulfill his wishes for a short-term, big money deal. Or say you’re interested in the Rangers’ Marc Staal or the Wild’s Josh Harding, what will that cost your team should they end up signing with them? Depending on the salary, it could turn out to be really pricey.

OFFER                                         COMPENSATION

$1,020,348 or below                       None
Over $1,020,348 to $1,545,981        Third-round choice
Over $1,545,981 to $3,091,963        Second-round choice
Over $3,091,963 to $4,637,944        First-round and third-round choice
Over $4,637,944 to $6,183,925        First-round, second-round and third-round choice
Over $6,183,925 to $7,729,907        Two first-round choices, one second- and one third-round choice
Over $7,729,907                             Four first-round choices

If you’re looking for reasons why it’s harder for teams to justify going after restricted free agents, look no further than those compensation points. If a player only commands little in salary, you can likely find unrestricted players at similar salaries and don’t need to risk giving up the picks, or the compensation is so much that going after them may not be worth the risk at all.

Most restricted free agents available aren’t going to command a price of over $7.7 million dollars, so coughing up an astounding four first-round picks won’t be necessary. But what about the $5 million a year that Bobby Ryan wants? Would you want your team to give up a first, second and third-round pick to get him? That’s a tough call, one that requires you to believe that strongly in a player to pull the trigger on such a deal.

One fun part of that is that a team that doesn’t have their own picks to give as compensation cannot make an offer for a restricted free agent if they don’t have the picks to give up. That means a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs is immediately shut out from offering a RFA anything over $3,091,963 as the Bruins own their first round pick in 2011. A team can always get their picks back if they traded them away, but good luck making that work out for you.

Are there prime players out there worth taking a shot at? Definitely. Ryan and Staal are probably two of the most attractive players to shoot for, but is it worth the potentially bad PR and ugly media fight to get it done? A lot of teams won’t want to deal with the hassle, leaving it to be a somewhat unwritten rule, a “code” if you will, that you don’t vulture in on another team’s property. That said, if I was a GM with a highly-touted RFA to deal with, I’d keep my eye on that wily Kevin Lowe though… He seems to have a bit of a history for this thing.

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    The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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    Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

    Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

    The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

    St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

    Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

    There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

    It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

    Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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    After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

    Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

    Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

    Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

    The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

    Wow.

    With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

    As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

    Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

    Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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    Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

    Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

    Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

    Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

    Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

    Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

    Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

    The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

    Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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    Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

    If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

    It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

    Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

    That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

    That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

    If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.