NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2020

by | Oct 29, 2020 | Rumors | 48 comments

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.

Could New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal become an offer-sheet target? (NHL Images)

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.


  1. We also see with offer sheets GMs normally get frowned upon pretty hard. I think that while everyone is trying to cess out this bizarre year the GM who came in and did it would be looked as a leper right or wrong.

    • Absolutely agree, but the the potential available talent, it could be worth it to land one of these guys.

    • How about Sergachev for Drouin? Oh wait….

      • That was funny!

  2. Wonder what kind of barn fight would ensue if someone double offer-sheeted the Lightning. (Cernak and Sergachev or Cirelli). There are a number of teams with the picks to do it but obviously few to also have the space.

    All reports indicate that a sheet to Cirelli would come in over 6.544 so that doesn’t work. But say you sheeted Cernak to $4M (2nd rd. pick) and Sergachev to $6.5 (1st and 3rd). Tampa can’t match on both so you would likely get one guy and if they match neither, then you paid a 1, 2, and 3 for two young top-4 guys.

    Would never happen of course, but to see the effect of it would be amazing.

    • The job of a GM in the NHL is to make his team better. It is not a contest for most likeable personality. If I were an NHL GM and had the opportunity to significantly better my team by using an offer sheet, I would not hesitate for a second. TB is ripe for one of it’s players to sign an offer sheet. Especially since we are talking about 2 young, SC winners, up and coming young top 4 d-men in Cernak and Sergachev. I may gain some enemies around the league but my fan base would love it !!!!

      • The problem with that is that a lot, if not most, GM’s will simply stop doing business with you, and that in no way shape or form helps your team.

      • If teams stop working with a GM or team, or targets a team, that offer sheets a player, the NHLPA may have a good case collusion. That could be costly for the owners.

      • In all honesty as a TBL fan, somebody would do us a favor offer sheetibg Cirelli at a tier 3 number yielding a first and tird round pick. That certainly isn’t because I don’t love him and think he’s very valuable. But it seems more and more likely the Tampa would have to give up sweeteners to the tune of two first round picks to move the players necessary to re-sign all three of the RF A’s. Since nobody including the lightning would pay two first round picks To get Cirelli, that may be the best Tampa can hope for. Then they could use the first to move Johnson probably to Nashville who just lost both Kyle Turris and Nick Bonino at center. That leaves enough money to sign Sergachev and Cernak Which are the bigger priority since Tampa only has four NHL defenseman currently under contract one of whom is Braydon Coburn. The other upside to that is they probably would get to keep Killorn

    • I touched on this yesterday. Waiting to see what Tampa’s 1st move is. Other GM’s could be waiting for others to cast that 1st stone. My guess is Tampa is hoping all 3 rfa’s take cheap 1 year deals (ala Lebanc) none of them have arbitration rights. No knock on Cirelli, I think he’s a decent player with ALOT of talent around him. I don’t know where that writer came up with an 8 mil offer sheet number. That’s crazy. I don’t see him ever being a 1C. He’s a 3C on Tampa, who held his own in playoffs as a 2C .
      I’d offer sheet Dubois for at least that much.

      • I know Dom L at the Athletic is really high on him as well.

        I would say he is a 2C on any team that could afford to offer sheet him and is still very young.

    • Nice idea if you have the picks and Cap space. It is part of the CBA & teams still seem to be dealing with Montreal. More teams should use it. Just can’t be mad when it happens to you later.

  3. It makes for a great hypothetical discussion but I don’t see CBJ using an offer sheet this year. Buzz here is that Dubois’s agent may be waiting to use Barzal’s contract as part of the comparison set for PLD’s negotiation and that is part of the delay. The most likely play at this point is CBJ will sign Dubois and Gavrikov and use LTIR on Dubinsky (or trade if a cap strapped team wants the relief similar to TOR’s approach in recent years) then use that space to add a F should the right trade present itself from a team needing to dump salary. Jarmo purportedly still wants to add a “big fish” but will need to be patient to do so. This likely will last into the season…perhaps all the way to the trade deadline should they be in contention.

  4. #1 Centers do not grow on trees and are not available as FAs without massive contracts at the tail of a career … If you believe either of those 2 C’s are a #1 then you likely go for it

  5. I think Dubois is every bit as attractive as Aho. More so in my opinion . Bigger physical and more of a battler . Columbus would match any offer. Should be worth more than Barzal. Also a big fan.

    • Agree on PLD. Another level above Cirelli

      Cirelli playoff performance made him look even more valuable…but is he a #2 center for the next decade.maybe but some ppl saying he could be #1…i dont agree there.Still love him as a 2C on most squads

  6. I think offer sheets are a good way to get blackballed in the league as a GM. Once you do it, you will become a pariah. Oh, I was only trying to make my team better? really? Isn’t that what every team is trying to do? You can’t construct a team like everyone else? but poaching a player that current team cultivated aint cool. Just sayin! Build you team the right way. Remember, thou shalt not covet they neighbors goods. 🙂

    • Correct. The stress which would compel a player to sign an offer sheet and a team not match will, and almost invariably has, produced a trade under duress that allows the poaching team to improve itself and the poached team to save face. The return assets will at least fill holes at the lower values received. Both GM’s understand the circumstances
      A team that does extend a successful offer sheet will not be a complete pariah; again; all will understand, but why take the risk when with a little more effort you can make “a hockey deal”. IF the numbers are truly compelling the deal will go to the best deal maker; if they turn out not to be compelling then tendering an offer should brand you as an ass.

      • Richard, I try keeping track of daily transactions around the league and today – in a couple of sites (CBC sports and Puckpedia) they show TB as re-signing Pat Maroon and Luke Schenn. That rung a bell so I checked back to earlier signings around the league and, sure enough, they showed the same two as being re-signed on October 9!

        Any idea what’s going on there? Anyone? Lyle?

      • The signings probably weren’t made official until today.

      • Thanks Lyle. Makes sense, I guess – just that I never ran across that before – meanwhile, CapFriendly had been showing both as signed right from October 9

      • I click on that and get a “404” error DoubleMinor

      • “Arizona has renounced the rights to Mitchell Miller, who was selected by the team in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft.

        Miller admitted in an Ohio juvenile court to bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, who was African American classmate with developmental disabilities. “We have decided to renounce the rights to Mitchell Miller, effective immediately,” said Coyotes’ President & CEO Xavier Gutierrez. “Prior to selecting Mitchell in the NHL Draft, we were aware that a bullying incident took place in 2016. We do not condone this type of behavior but embraced this as a teachable moment to work with Mitchell to make him accountable for his actions and provide him with an opportunity to be a leader on anti-bullying and anti-racism efforts. We have learned more about the entire matter, and more importantly, the impact it has had on Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. What we learned does not align with the core values and vision for our organization and leads to our decision to renounce our draft rights. On behalf of the Arizona Coyotes ownership and our entire organization, I would like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. We are building a model franchise on and off the ice and will do the right thing for Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family, our fans and our partners. Mr. Miller is now a free agent and can pursue his dream of becoming an NHL player elsewhere.”

    • i think that’s the idea but i’m not sure it’s actually the case. i haven’t seen any sort of repercussions toward Bergevin after he signed Aho. He still made deals, still improved his team. There definitely appears to be a stigma related to poaching another teams assets but i’m not sure there are any consequences.

      • I don’t believe Montreal, at the moment has anything that would entice an offer sheet from another team.

      • Perhaps the repercussions are less for the team and more for the GM. Many GMs get fired every few years and look for jobs with other teams…could me more closed doors if you aren’t on good terms with execs of half the league.

    • Totally agree and very well said.

  7. I’m betting that Detroit and Tampa will work something out. 2 GM’s that worked together in Tampa. Tyler Johnson to Detroit with Cirelli? According to CapFriendly, Mantha is arb eligible. But, I don’t see his name on schedule? Maybe once Yzerman settles with him then we see a trade?

    • @slick
      Serga to Detroit before Cirelli(who is similar to Larkin imho) makes sense-though you think Tampa is better with Hedman+McD or Hedman+Serga?

      • ds. I think Cirelli is most likely out. He’s stuck behind Stamkos and Pointe for near future. They still have Coleman under cheap contract for a year. Cernak won’t cost much. If I’m Tampa, Sergachev is top guy long term. McDonaugh can be left unprotected next year. Maybe they make deal with Seattle.

      • @slick
        Id rather have Point+Cirelli than Point+Stamkos.

        Seattle will have a slightly different build than the original Vegas squad thanks to cap issues.
        Their D could be full of some early 30s vets getting paid but adds stability quickly

      • ds. Stamkos was 2nd leading scorer for Tampa. I don’t see him ever waiving nmc. Even if they could move him, I dint think they’re as good a team with Cirelli and Pointe.

  8. It’s all about winning. Being a nice guy is pretty pansy like but only the NHL has GM’s that think ruthless is not a good thing. Lame imo

  9. Re Offer Sheets

    I have pretty strong confidence that at least a few verbal offer sheets have already transpired

    Per McKenzie last year he estimated 15-20 “offer sheets” are done every year

    The public only hears about them when both sides have signed and it’s registered with the NHL

    The formal written offer sheet can sit on an agent’s or players desk and just be part of the clutter… still an offer sheet… just not “agreed” upon

    Before that , I would expect there will be even more discussions and verbal offers ….. Stevie Y might call up Barzal’s agent…”tell Matt we’re willing to go 7 @ $7M”….. response perhaps is a politically correct “FOAD”

    With this in mind… it seems that GMs are willing to do it…. for a deal they are comfortable with… so willing to undergo Potential GM colleagues’ snub/wrath

    GMMB was last to get one formally signed…. he has been successful in trades since then

    COVID eco times are a new game….. making an offer sheet now , IMHO, makes even more sense, and if it can’t be matched… big gain…. I don’t foresee any marked snap/scrutiny/backlash from fellow GMs for completing an offer sheet. I would argue that there would be less backlash

    I would think all teams but Bolts would match (unless it is a ludicrous amount) , except for Bolts…. hands tied

    Above SCJ pondered the double whammy Offer sheet by one team… even more rare

    However…. if say Serg signs an offer sheet…another team should immediately make a good offer on Cerelli… the offer sheet “barrier” has been opened and now your offer sheet on Cerelli has a greater chance of not being matched… BrisBoise can’t possibly match two offer sheets

    Just sayin’

    • I would think that all the scenrios described above about becoming a pariah, blackballed, frowned upon, poacher – whatever – would have been discussed at length before the damned offer sheet option was introduced in the first place. And yet introduced it was.

      Leo Durocher said it beast “nice guys finish last.”

      • As a guy who has lived and worked in the B2B world for a few decades, I disagree with Leo and agree with Richard.
        Being a dick, or ruthless may help in some businesses if you are speaking hostile takeovers and acquisitions. Yep, cut throat is the way it is.
        Is that what we are talking about here? I don’t think we are.

        The best deal makers in the industries I have been a part of are the folks that understand each other’s businesses the best. The best way to understand a potential deal opportunity is to build the relationship so that there is mutual trust and respect so that open and honest discussions take place. A deal that helps both teams/businesses can take place. And sometimes there simply isn’t a fit. Move on to the next one.
        If you have those discussions, build that trust, then offer sheet them. Safe to say the conversation won’t be as open next time and the opportunity to find a deal that helps both teams diminishes.
        Relationships matter.

      • Agree it has been used and likely will be by some moving forward. I don’t know how it came into play originally, but if I had to guess the players association negotiated it in to gain some leverage for RFA coming off ELC’s.

        I read the link, and for the most part what was has happened is the team has matched.
        I think we can all agree on that.
        End result, often cap problems.
        There has been some retaliation and some nasty words that went public. But none of us know what hasn’t gone public or how any of them really feel about it. I am sure it varies from GM to GM.

        I just think it is an opportunistic approach vs a strategic plan to improve your team. In the end you either over pay for a player or cause a fellow GM to do the same and risk harming relationships that matter. And drive up salaries for every team.

        I understand why players want it, I would too.

        Just give them arbitration rights sooner.

    • Pengy. I said this yesterday. Tampa has less than 3 mil in cap space and only 18 players signed. They can only go 10% over cap during off season. So if a player gets an offer sheet, and if Tampa matches, they’re that much closer to limit. Maybe then they’re forced into giving up more in a trade for Johnson than they want. Or, depending on who gets offer sheet, they don’t match. My guess is
      there is already multiple conversations behind the scenes. Nobody is forcing issue. There’s still a few arbitration’s scheduled. I’m curious to see what Rangers do with Strome. Cirelli’s name has been a favorite in NY rumors.

  10. Offer sheets might happen in normal times but not now.
    Aren’t decent NHLers on inexpensive short contracts a better and safer way to go with so much uncertainty?

  11. I’d like to see the Kings go after Sergachev. They have the cap space. and while they have a glut of young forwards they need more high end defenders. At 22 years old he fits into their rebuild. And while the 1st rounder could be high, they’re an improving team (best after the trade-deadline last season) that will likely fall just outside the playoffs next season.

  12. If you live in fear of being “blackballed” by contemporaries, then you shouldn’t be a GM in any business. Do what is best for your team. Who cares about picks? Out of the 300 or so kids picked this year, maybe 20 percent will sniff the NHL. Also, the GMs in office today may not be there next year, so who cares? You have to have a short memory in this business.

    • Yup. When the only tool you use is a hammer, ALL the problems begin to resemble a nail

  13. I think that offer sheets are a fantasy for hockey “insiders” to have something to write about during times like these when NHL news is scarce.

    There will be ZERO offer sheets tossed around again this year. Montreal’s half hearted attempt probably saved Carolina a ton of cash in the long run.

    I stand by my post yesterday that predicts that we will see very little movement until the last minute.

    I recall Snow picking up Leddy and Boychuck a few years ago when Boston and Chicago had to scramble to make it under the cap.
    I see lots of last minute signings right before the season opens.
    Until then…..zzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  14. One or more of Tampa’s RFA’s may want to stay in Tampa. Doubt that many of the squad want to leave. Lets suppose you trade Tyler Johnson and a second and a third for a fifth, which might be a bad enough “deal” to not have to hold back salary (if the league would let it happen?) I think you could keep everybody else for the Covid year and address the rest of your issues with the Kraaken.