Will this be the summer of RFA goalies getting offer sheets?

8 Comments

Over at the Globe and Mail, James Mirtle has an intriguing take on what July 1 might hold for a stellar crop of RFA goalies:

There’s Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Ondrej Pavelec, Cory Schneider, Anders Lindback and Devan Dubnyk all in need of contracts, with two or three of those names potential targets for offer sheets when free agency opens this summer.

The Canadiens can avoid that situation with Price by electing for arbitration before July 1, but that isn’t an option until after July 1 with Rask and Schneider given their low salaries.

Both Boston and Vancouver are relatively tight against the cap as well, with big salaries dedicated to Thomas (even if he doesn’t play) and Luongo making their goaltending situations precarious.

Some in the hockey world I’ve spoken with think this is being contemplated and that one reason GMs Steve Yzerman and Brian Burke have been so quiet on the goaltending front is that they plan on making a bold play on July 1.

Some notes:

— Under the current CBA, RFA compensation works like this:

$1,034,249 annual cap hit or less: No compensation
$1,034,249 — $1,567,043: Third-round pick
$1,567,043 — $3,134,088: Second-round pick
$3,134,088 — $4,701,131: First and third-round pick
$4,701,131 — $6,268,175: First, second and third-round pick
$6,268,175 — $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third
$7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks

— Teams need to have their original draft picks for compensation. They can’t use picks acquired via trade.

— The Lightning have five picks in the top 50 at the 2012 draft: No. 10, No. 19 (from Detroit in the Kyle Quincey trade), No. 37 (from San Jose in the Dominic Moore trade), No. 40 and No. 50 (from Philly in the Pavel Kubina trade). They also have a third round pick at No. 71.

— As for compensatory picks, Tampa also has all its picks in 2013 and an extra second rounder (again, from the Kubina deal).

— As such, Yzerman’s in an amazing position to throw out an offer sheet and still obtain young talent. For example, he could sign any of the above RFA goalies to a deal that pays, say, $6 million annually and lose his first- second- and third-round picks in 2013. The loss of those picks would be mitigated by his slew of young draftees from 2012.

— That said, some consider offer sheeting RFAs dirty pool. Plenty of GMs don’t like it and only six have been signed since the lockout — Ryan Kesler (Philadelphia), Thomas Vanek (Edmonton), Dustin Penner (Edmonton), David Backes (Vancouver), Steve Bernier (St. Louis) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (San Jose) with only Penner actually moving teams — a move that caused great acrimony between then-Anaheim GM Brian Burke and Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe.