As we gear up for 2021 NHL Fantasy Hockey – News and thoughts for consideration.
13 Years Since The Last NHL Offer-Sheet
NHL offer-sheets are a rarity. It has been 13 years since the last accepted NHL offer-sheet. Dustin Penner, then playing for the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07 was just coming off his rookie season in which he scored 29 goals and 45 points. The Edmonton Oilers pounced on the opportunity and tendered an offer-sheet worth $21.5 million over five years, or an AAV of $4.3 million.
The Ducks didn’t deem him worth all that money and decided to take the compensation and let the Oilers cough up the dough. The Oilers gave up 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks in the 2008 NHL Draft.
NHL Offers Sheet Era Coming To A Close
Thirteen years and six attempted offer-sheets later and we still haven’t had another successful offer-sheet attempt. The no-offer-sheets era, however, may be coming to a close.
The last time an offer-sheet was attempted was on July 1st, 2019. The Montreal Canadiens under Marc Bergevin decided to take a risk and offer-sheet Carolina Hurricanes centre Sebastian Aho. The deal would carry an AAV of $8,454,000 over five years, the traditional offer-sheet term length.
The offer was laughable at best and the very next day the Canes sent a Twitter post with a question:
“Should we match the offer-sheet?”
The question was followed by a poll with two options, yes or yes.
They effectively sent the message to big-market NHL teams that they won’t be taken advantage of.
Present Day Tampa Bay Lightning Challenges
This brings us back to the present day. The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently about $2 million above the salary cap. That alone would mean that they have to trade someone, or face the consequences. However, the problem doesn’t stop there, they also have yet to sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak, Mathieu Joseph, Dominik Masin and Alexander Volkov.
Volkov, Masin and Joseph will all likely sign short-term deals between $700,000 to $850,000 annually. In the case of Cernak and Cirelli both primed for significant raises.
Erik Cernak’s next contract will be in the $2,700,000 per year range. As for Anthony Cirelli, $5,800,000 annually will do the trick.
If our projections are right, that would put the Lightning north of $12 million over the cap. As a result, big changes on the horizon for the 2020 Stanley Cup champions.
The Lightning have quite a few players that are good but likely won’t be able to stay on the team, such as Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, Cedric Paquette and Brayden Coburn. Here are their salaries in order from highest to lowest:
This is assuming that the Lightning are less than inclined to trade one of their star players such as Steven Stamkos, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Ryan McDonagh or Mikhail Sergachev.
As you can see there are any number of options available for the Lightning to heal their cap woes via trade.
What if, however, other teams are watching and they’re playing the waiting game, waiting for the Lightning to get desperate?
Anthony Cirelli NHL Offer Sheet Candidate For The New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils have over 12 million in cap space heading into 2021. They could easily sneak in an pick up Anthony Cirelli via an offer sheet. In doing so they would have to fork over a first rounder as well as a third round pick. You might ask, why would the Devils want to give up a possible lottery pick for a 2nd-3rd line centre?
The New Jersey Devils have a fantastic young group of players headlined by first-overall picks Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, as well as Mackenzie Blackwood and Will Butcher. Depending on how fast they think their rebuild will complete, they could be looking at a window of contention starting in the next 2-4 years.
If they think they can be either in the playoffs, or at least near it this year, they may not mind giving up a first rounder for a promising young centre.
Anthony Cirelli NHL Offer Sheet Candidate For The Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are another team with plenty of cap space. They have a solid team and a defensive corps at the top of the league. Takeing a shot at Cirelli with an NHL Offer-Sheet to bolster their floundering top-six centres’ Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen makes sense.
They’ve done a great job building up their defence over the offseason, but they didn’t do much to improve their offence. In fact, the even lost a valuable forward, Mikael Granlund to free agency. Cirelli would add a much-needed fire under Duchene and Johansen to make them earn their spots at the forefront of the attack.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in a cap crunch the likes of which I have never seen before. Any and all options are on the table and if they can’t get a few deals done in time, who knows, maybe a team will take a stab at them?