NHL Rumor Mill – March 8, 2019

by | Mar 8, 2019 | Rumors | 25 comments

Could offer sheets become a genuine concern this summer for teams with restricted free agent stars? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required) Pierre LeBrun recently examined the possibility that a restricted free agent could sign an offer sheet this summer. The last one occurred in 2013 when then-Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly inked one with the Calgary Flames, which the Avs quickly matched. 

Will a top RFA star, like Toronto’s Mitch Marner, sign an offer sheet this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

LeBrun points out this summer’s crop of restricted free agents includes young stars such as Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser. He also noted clubs like Lightning, Maple Leafs, and Jets could be squeezed for salary-cap space for 2019-20, though their respective managements indicate they’re prepared to match any offer.

LeBrun reminds us teams must have sufficient depth in draft picks and salary-cap space to pitch an offer sheet, while the targeted player must be willing to sign one. He wondered if a team like the Arizona Coyotes or New York Islanders might take the plunge. LeBrun also suggested that, instead of targetting the top-tier RFAs, perhaps a second-tier talent like Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen becomes singled out for an offer sheet. 

TSN: cited Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin told LeBrun he believes teams at risk of missing the playoffs are unwilling to risk parting with non-lottery protected draft picks to sign a restricted free agent. “Maybe one of the reasons it hasn’t been done in a long time is because with the draft lottery the way it is now, the bubble teams, those could be lottery picks,’’ Bergevin said. “That player makes you better but does it make you that much better where you know you’re going to be a shoo-in to make the playoffs?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Each summer brings speculation suggesting a top restricted free agent could sign an offer sheet. This year’s big crop of RFA talent certainly provides tempting targets.

However, there’s no certainty most of those players will be available before the free-agent market opens in July. Some teams with RFA talent, such as Carolina, Colorado, and Vancouver, have plenty of cap space to match any offer. Those with limited cap space could take that player to arbitration solely to prevent him from receiving an offer sheet, with the two sides then agreeing to a new contract before the scheduled arbitration hearing. 

Some suggest a club could target a team with limited cap space for an offer sheet to force them to match and screw up their salary-cap payroll. However, I don’t see any NHL GM being that cunning. Most are like Bergevin, who said he doesn’t believe in pitching an offer sheet simply for the sake of doing so.

While I don’t doubt the sincerity of the general managers with limited cap space when they say they’ll match any offer, there’s no guarantee that threat will be an effective deterrent. A rival with the cap space and available draft picks could test them. Still, the fact we haven’t seen an offer sheet since 2013 suggests those with cap restraints aren’t feeling threatened by that tactic. 

It still comes down to the player. Most prefer re-signing with their current teams and don’t want any unnecessary distractions during contract negotiations. For all the talk of how much influence player agents have over their clients, they certainly haven’t held much sway regarding offer sheets. 

An offer sheet is always a possibility and would certainly make the free-agent market more interesting, especially when the frenzy of early-July UFA signings have passed. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t get my hopes up expecting to see one this summer. 


  1. Lyle, yesterday there was a lengthy discussion about the fact Las Vegas is exempt from the next expansion draft.

    This morning I heard from an acquaintance that the reason is, they will not be sharing in the expansion fee to be paid by Seattle. Can you shed any light on that?

    • That’s correct, George. They’re exempt from the draft but won’t receive a cut of the expansion fee from Seattle.

      • I wonder if they had the option of either the share of the expansion fee or not losing a player what they would have chosen.

      • VGK would have taken the fee over protecting a player because 1) they would not have anticipated having enough quality players to be worried about the quantity to protect and 2) $30+ million dollars is a lot of pocket change. The way this is set up is because the NHL had wanted to do a double expansion at the same time, the timelines just didn’t work out.

    • George O as an Ottawa fan, knowing what the Sens gave up and their returns are you concerned once the Likes of Chabot, Tkachuk, White and Batherson develop and their salary demands become high that ownership doesn’t turn around and do the same thing?

      • Any concerns I have begin and end with Melnyk. As I said the other day, saying the team will spend to the cap by 2020-21 is one thing – doing it is quite something else. The loyal fans are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. If they continue to stay away to the point where crowds are at the 14,000 mark on a good night, then not only will the team be going through this recent purge once again. On the other hand, if they start to take to these kids, the team improves its performance, and the crowds get back to 18,000 on a regular basis, Melnyk could go back on his word, decide to pocket the profits and direct that the GM trade them away if their demands exceed what he wants to pay.

        The team needs a new owner like Laliberté.

      • Caper, does the Miami Marlins come to mind?

  2. off topic , went to the Sens Isles game last night and have figured out why Anthony Duclair has played for 5 teams in 5 years @ 23 years old……very skilled with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone but zero effort otherwise. Weak on the fore-check and back-check and seems to give up easily if separated from the puck.

    • @ FERGY

      How did the Isls look…are they going to be any threat come playoff time ?

      I really like that player Anthony Bellevier …whom the Sens could have got for Duchene in a proposed deal that Lyle posted …pretenders or contenders ??

      • Isles top line looked flat , Filppula was by far the best forward last night. Barzal is clearly the most skilled forward on the Isles but he seemed to be trying to do it all by himself offensively. Beauvillier works hard and scored the go ahead goal. The D while not spectacular is big and moves the puck well, Greiss played well in nets. Perhaps it was playing down to the opponent but the Isles are going to need to kick it up a notch to do any damage.

      • @ Fergy 22…

        Cheers, thx

        love to hear from posters who see games live…what guys do away from the puck …is an added dimension to every game …and I love to see plays unfold…I always feel that you get a better sense of players overall games …especially when they get all propped up by the announcers on TV but look horrible live and vice versa…


  3. Good morning …

    @ CAPER


    Your Bs are a menace right now …all without Pastrnak as well…if they end up playing the Bolts at any time…. that series will be the best in this years playoffs…it looks as if the Bs are pissed off they are being ignored in the East over the Bolts …they could be the upset team if any team of 2019.

    @ Pengyy

    PITT has been up and down ..but it seems as if Crosby has really picked this team up and lead a charge of late and having an exceptional half of the season and making a push ….it is almost reminiscent of 3 years ago when they ripened just before the playoff push …made it in and then went on a wicked run…and won. Not sure they have that in them ..but they have really made solid push as of late ..and Crosby has just been Crosby ..LOL
    Nice to see…

    Not going to speculate on the offer sheet situation ,,it has way to many variables to discuss and only invites an argument ..LOL …..Kapanen will be interesting as if the offer sheet is over 4 million per year it starts to include first round picks and multiple picks included …so that will be interesting…but I still say he signs a Bridge deal …he wants to be a Leaf with that core he will make his money in Toronto as things progress and the cap increases …he will be just fine $$$

    Columbus… Canes and Habs are going to be very interesting !!!

    Have a good day guys…

    • Kal El, what I would say about the Bruins is, yes they are playing extremely well, look like a lock to play Toronto in the first round. Toronto and Tampa Bay have more skilled forwards. The two most impressive players on the Bruins roster as of late for me are Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. It also amazes me how Krecji can control a game by slowing down the pace.
      But here is my Achilles heel for Boston and that is Tuuka Rask in the net. Not that i’m not a Rask fan it’s that I always expect him to fail but hoping he proves me wrong. I find Rask losses focus and gets tired after excessive use. Maybe this is because he is 6’3″ and a 176lbs and can only handle so much. Interesting that Rask himself said he is OK with getting regular time off down the stretch and yes this could be a good thing for his mental awareness and fatigue. Depending on how far Boston go in the playoffs, Rask may require a game or two off, unless it’s a quick series.
      Personally I think Bos vs Tor will be a long series and the one player who scares me the most on Toronto is Mitch Marner, he was Toronto best player in the playoffs last year and no reason he won’t be again. Nylander and Matthews need to step up their game, especially the much praised Matthews, this will be an important playoff run for him. Either way Tampa will be very tough to beat but wouldn’t Tampa vs either Columbus or Pittsburgh in the first round be interesting.

  4. Crosby 4 th in scoring . Along with Tarasenko the hottest in the league since We turned the page to 2019

    An offer sheet could happen between two GM’s that despise each other but that would be about it.

    Matthews should start looking like an 11 million dollar man. Seems to be taking a lot of nights off over his last 10 anyway . McDavid doesn’t take a shift off

    • well Matthews definitely took last night off.

      • TB, one reason the Leafs need Kadri back is so Nylander can be on the wing with Matthews. Kapanen is solid anywhere and plays well with Kadri.
        In order to compete with Boston, they need the much-maligned Jake Gardiner back as well.
        Great story about Imlach, George, another legend in his own mind.

    • Perhaps you didn’t attend Oiler game I. toronto when McDavid was a no show.

  5. I hope a team offer sheets Marner for 13 million. I have a feeling his Daddy will already be asking for more than 11 that Matthew’s receivered. Should make for an interesting summer. For any offer sheet to work the team will have to offer up over 11 million and give up the 4 first round picks. Who has the balls to try?

    • I have only watched a couple of Leafs games this season, but from what I have heard and noticed from the highlights Marner is more valuable to the Leafs than Matthews.
      I also think that the Leafs next captain should be between Tavares, Rielly, and Marner. Before the NHL Matthews has never been the captain of this team. Not a sling on Matthews, it’s just sometimes good skilled players don’t have that leadership ability. Kessel is a good example of it.

  6. I can concur on the Isles game, and I’m an Isles fan. The game was pretty slow. And the whole third period practically was in the Isles end, and somehow they managed to get a weak goal to take the lead. I’d say they were lucky to get 2 points, but the Sens have no finish. They set up great plays – you can see the future but there’s no stud to put the goal in. Not yet anyhow.

    • The potential goal scorers are with either Belleville (Batherson and Brown_ or London (Formenton).

  7. Among the guys I play hockey with and pub with…..the conversation seems be trade Matthews….I don’t know what he would fetch…any one here have ideas.

    Marner over 11 is a joke as is Matthews over 11….these are not UFA s but RFAs….GMs need to develop a set & hold tough….Nylander should have been made to sit out the year….as should Marner if he demands what Leaf dislikers and Kypreous thinks he should…..negotiating with Matthews during the season was an error…learn from it….

  8. Apropos of nothing – but fun on a slow day – how many of you know that, in 1974, Punch Imlach, then GM of the Buffalo Sabres, drafted a fake player – Taro Tsujimoto – 183rd overall in the 11th round because he was fed up with the draft system and wanted to protest the slow telephone process, introduced that year to keep draft picks a secret from the rival WHA. Apparently Imlack thought nit was hilarious but Commissioner Clarence Cambell did not. In the end, however, the joke was on Imlach because taken after “Tsujimoto” were Dave Lumley who went on to 2 Cups with the Oilers, playing for 9 seasons in the NHL, and Stefan Persson, taken in roubnd 14 by the Islanders and on all 4 of the Cup teams.

  9. The first drafted Japanese player ? That didn’t exist .