NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2020
A look at possible offer-sheet targets and three teams that should try signing one of them in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva listed New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli, defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and blueliner Erik Cernak among his eight restricted free agents who could become offer-sheet targets during this NHL offseason.
Sachdeva’s list also includes Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear and Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha.
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman believes the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers should attempt to sign Barzal or one of those Lightning RFAs to an offer sheet. He believes it makes sense for the Predators to pony up a five-year deal worth $10.9 million annually for Barzal despite having to give up two first-round picks, a second and a third to the Islanders as compensation.
Wegman suggested the Blue Jackets attempt to sign Sergachev to a four-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.5 million, costing them a first-round pick and a third-rounder in compensation. He also proposed the Panthers target Cirelli for a five-year deal with an AAV of $8 million even though the compensation to the Lightning is a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a third-rounder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sachdeva and Wegman acknowledged the rarity of offer sheets and the difficulties in successfully signing away another team’s restricted free agent.
There’s no question most on Sachdeva’s list make tempting targets for offer sheets. However, I wouldn’t have included Dubois, Hintz, Bear or Mantha. Not because they’re not deserving but because I don’t believe any club would overpay to land one of those players.
Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $15 million in cap space, more than enough to match any offer for Mantha. The Blue Jackets have over $12 million available so matching for Dubois isn’t an issue. The Stars have over $4.1 million and could free up space if necessary without too much difficulty. The Oilers have only 732K in cap space but are expected to place Oscar Klefbom ($4.1 million) on LTIR.
Yes, those clubs could be reluctant to match if the offer is very expensive. A rival club could roll the dice and sign one of those players. With so many teams carrying limited cap space, this offseason would be the perfect time to try that tactic. However, I don’t see those with cap space willing to overspend under the current economic climate. That includes the Predators, Blue Jackets and Panthers.