If you’re one of the small handful of people still holding out hope for a restricted free agent offer sheet, Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone was probably your best hope this summer.
The combination of the Senators being a mess in every possible way, the fact they seem to be determined to keep salaries down, and the fact they could probably use some additional draft capital after having to send their 2019 first-round pick to Colorado, made Stone an intriguing possibility to get signed to an offer sheet and perhaps even sent to a new team as a result.
Now, there is no way that can happen.
Stone was one of 44 restricted free agents to officially file for salary arbitration on Thursday before the 5 p.m. ET deadline, meaning that he — along with the other 43 players to do so — is no longer eligible to sign an offer sheet with another team.
Offer sheets are incredibly rare in the NHL as one has not been signed since Ryan O'Reilly inked a two-year contract with the Calgary Flames back in 2013. That contract was matched by the Colorado Avalanche.
Before that you have to go back to the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet the Philadelphia Flyers signed Shea Weber too. That, also, was matched.
The last time a restricted free agent was signed away from a team you have to go all the way back to the Edmonton Oilers getting Dustin Penner away from the Anaheim Ducks in 2008, resulting in Edmonton having to give up their first, second and third-round picks. That also led to a pretty massive feud between then-Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe and then-Ducks general manager Brian Burke. That was also the only successful restricted agent offer sheet in the salary cap era and the only since 1997 when Chris Gratton moved from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Philadelphia Flyers. That offer was supposed to result in the Lightning getting four first-round draft picks, but they were sent back to the Flyers for Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis.
Even though he appeared in only 58 games during the 2017-18 season Stone still finished tied for the team lead in points (alongside Erik Karlsson) with 62.
According to CapFriendly, because Stone is 26 years old he can only be awarded a one-year contract if his case reaches arbitration. If that happens he would be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of that one-year contract.
Among the other notable players to file for arbitration ahead of Thursday’s deadline:
Elias Lindholm, Calgary Flames
Mattias Janmark, Dallas Stars
Mathew Dumba, Minnesota Wild
Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild
Brock Nelson, New York Islanders
Kevin Hayes, New York Rangers
Brady Skej, New York Rangers
Ryan Spooner, New York Rangers
Jimmy Vesey, New York Rangers
Jamie Oleksiak, Pittsburgh Penguins
William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights
Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
The full list of players to file can be found at the NHLPA website.
All arbitration hearings will be held in New York City between July 20 and August 4. Most players will be able to agree to contracts with their team before they have to actually get to an arbitration hearing.
One notable RFA that did not file for salary arbitration: Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson. The team hopes to sign him to a long-term contract extension soon, though.