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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    Condon keeps standing on his head for Sens, this time sinking Sharks

    SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 07:  Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators makes a save on a shot taken by Mikkel Boedker #89 of the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on December 7, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Chris Kelly scored with 1:06 remaining and Jean-Gabriel Pageau added an empty-net goal, giving the Ottawa Senators a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.

    Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson also scored for the Senators, who beat the Sharks for a fifth straight time. They’ve won three straight in San Jose for the first time ever.

    Logan Couture and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

    Mike Condon stopped 35 of 37 shots for the Sens. The Sharks outshot Ottawa 18-4 in the third period, and Martin Jones allowed three goals on 16 shots overall.

    The Senators struck quickly, recording a power-play goal less than four minutes into the contest. Mike Hoffman tossed the puck toward the net and it bounced off Burns’ skate. Burns lost sight of it and Stone picked it up, firing past everybody into the net.

    Hoffman has a point in six straight games and in eight of nine since missing a pair of contests with an injury.

    Karlsson made it 2-0 with a goal about four minutes later. Sharks defender Brendan Dillon tried clearing it from in front of the net, but Karlsson was right there to fire it to the high glove side.

    Couture got the Sharks on the board with a power-play goal midway through the second period. The Senators cleared the puck two straight possessions before Joe Pavelski rushed to the net and then slipped the puck to an open Couture, who has six goals in his past eight games, about 10 feet away for the score.

    Burns tied the score 6:30 into the third period, methodically working the puck to set up a shot that squeezed past Condon to the glove side.

    NOTES: Senators D Marc Methot missed his fourth straight contest with a lower body injury. … Stone has eight points in his last six games. … Karlsson has nine points in his last five games. … The Sharks recalled F Kevin LeBlanc and D Mirco Mueller. Mueller was a healthy scratch. … Sharks D Paul Martin recorded his 300th NHL point with an assist on Burns’ goal.

    UP NEXT:

    Senators: Continue a four-game trip at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

    Sharks: Travel to Anaheim for a game Friday night and then return home to face Carolina on Saturday night.

    ‘If he was in Toronto, there’d be no Carey Price, media-wise’ – Boudreau on Dubnyk

    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07:  Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild celbrates a win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on April 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 2-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    The Minnesota Wild aren’t exactly dominating the NHL, so it might be easy to ignore just how outstanding Devan Dubnyk has been to start the 2016-17 season.

    We’re talking “Carey Price and Tuukka Rask territory.”

    While his 11-6-3 record won’t blow anyone’s mind, his 1.65 GAA and .946 save percentage are jaw-dropping. With Dubnyk doing special things, Bruce Boudreau felt the need to say weird things* after Dubnyk helped the Wild beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Wednesday.

    “If he was in Toronto, there would be no Carey Price … I’m just saying media-wise,” Boudreau said after the game, as you can see in this video:

    That’s some Haagen-Daz level praise from Boudreau.

    Even if Dubnyk was in a bigger market, there’d probably be room in our hockey thoughts for Dubnyk and the consensus best goalie in the world, but Boudreau’s larger point is taken: Dubnyk has been right there with the best early on this season.

    And, let’s be honest, we shouldn’t be too hard on Boudreau or he might stop saying … well, things like this:

    Never change, Bruce.

    * – Unlike his comments about “Die Hard,” which were amusingly on-point.

    Trademark headaches for the Vegas Golden Knights?

    LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 22:  The team name and logo for the Vegas Golden Knights are displayed on T-Mobile Arena's video mesh wall after the Vegas Golden Knights was announced as the name for the Las Vegas NHL franchise at T-Mobile Arena on November 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team will begin play in the 2017-18 season.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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    It’s difficult to tell just how big of a headache this might be, but SBNation‘s Mary Clarke uncovered quite the eyebrow-raiser on Wednesday: the Vegas Golden Knights’ trademark request was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    You can read the 164-page document here (if you’re weird), but the gist is that “registration of the applied-for mark is refused because of a likelihood of confusion with the mark” used by the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights.

    Clarke summarized it simply enough:

    Essentially, the logos and stylizations are too similar. It’s baffling the NHL and Vegas didn’t go through the trademark process before announcing the name and logo last month. Yet, all is not lost. Later down, the document states the Black Knight Sports and Entertainment group “may respond to the refusal by submitting evidence and arguments in support of registration.”

    Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt received this release from the Vegas Golden Knights, which indicated that they will respond to the refusal (and also noted how teams like the Boston Bruins and UCLA Bruins share names without issues).

    There seem to be some mixed messages, at least if you note owner Bill Foley’s response to NBC Las Vegas’ Amber Dixon:

    Hmm.

    This could merely be a messy issue that really doesn’t cause anything to go off track, even if people are certainly having some fun at the league and team’s expense.

    The logo and other marks seem to be the biggest sticking point, so compare the two for yourself:

    Again, this could all be a mild disruption, but it’s an odd situation. And, to some, a great laugh.

    Related: There also might be some issues involving the Army.

    Capitals manage OT win after coughing up lead to Bruins

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    It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.

    For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.

    After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.

    Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.

    Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:

    Capitals over the last three games:
    Shootout loss to the Lightning
    Overtime win against the Sabres
    Overtime win tonight against the Bruins

    Bruins over the last five games:
    Shootout loss against Flyers
    Shootout win against Hurricanes
    Regulation win against Sabres
    Overtime win against Panthers
    Overtime loss to the Capitals

    Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.