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Will there be any offer sheets this summer?

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Any time a young, big-name player enters the restricted free agent market, fans wonder if an offer sheet might be coming.

And sometimes they are. For example, Philadelphia Flyers attempted to snatch defenseman Shea Weber from Nashville last season, but the Predators matched. Which is part of the problem: Historically, teams have almost always matched.

“Offer sheets aren’t a concern,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said in June.

Armstrong’s negotiating with arguably the most appealing restricted free agent in defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

“It’s part of the business and you know that they’re there,” he added. “Nothing in an offer sheet is going to be that much crazier than we’re willing to spend anyway.”

That’s especially true now. Going back to the Weber example, the Flyers attempted to out-muscle a smaller market team by heavily frontloading the contract, but the new CBA prevents teams from trying that now.

With that in mind, would Pietrangelo even bother to sign an offer sheet, knowing that all it would serve to do is create a potential rift with the Blues once they match it?

Maybe not, but the Blues are in a somewhat unique situation this year and it’s with that in mind we can’t dismiss the possibility of offer sheets in general. St. Louis has plenty of cap space to work with, but the ceiling has fallen significantly, which means that other teams are more vulnerable to offer sheets now than they have been in a while.

For example, the Toronto Maple Leafs still have five noteworthy restricted free agents and they just handed big deals to David Clarkson and Tyler Bozak. Their cap situation isn’t critical yet, but an opposing team could put them in a difficult position by throwing a big contract at 22-year-old forward Nazem Kadri.

“Whenever you have a certain number of teams that are at or near the cap with restricted free agents, they don’t have the ability to match the offer sheet,” said agent Allan Walsh, according to the Toronto Star. “Or they’re put into a situation where they match the offer sheet and have to let somebody else go.”

That tactic seemed to work out for the San Jose Sharks in 2010. They signed Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year, $14 million contract. The Blackhawks matched, but that made a bad cap situation worse and they were ultimately unable to fit goaltender Antti Niemi under the ceiling as well. The Sharks then scooped up the Stanley Cup-winning netminder.

Alternatively, teams could snatch up lower profile, but still noteworthy young players on cap vulnerable teams, such as Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Chicago’s Marcus Kruger, and Vancouver’s Chris Tanev.

Those deals would have the added benefit of being more appealing to the offering team from a draft pick compensation perspective. The cap hit of the new contract needs to exceed roughly $3.36 million for the original team to get more than a third rounder as compensation.

In the end, the next offer sheet might not be a blockbuster, but it could result in an up-and-coming complimentary player changing teams.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.