An idea that I've been pushing since last summer is the dual offer sheet. Last year, Ryane Clowe and Christian Ehrhoff were both RFAs and San Jose was against the cap. I couldn't figure out why GMs all over the league weren't trying to force San Jose's hand and make them choose between the two. Instead, general managers let San Jose skate, they signed both of them on the cheap and were able to work out their cap problems. Both are key players on the best team in the league this year. There is the possibility that offer sheets were extended, but never accepted by either Ehrhoff or Clowe, as it's been rumored by a number of writers that far more offer sheets than Dustin Penner, Thomas Vanek, and David Backes have been made, just never publicized.
This year, there are even more teams in trouble with the cap with more than one RFA to sign. Any team that thinks they aren't set up to be in the lottery, and are a player or two away contending for a division title should be looking to send dual offer sheets this summer and force cap-strapped teams to make their choice.
Commentor Joe on Tyler's site worked up the approximate numbers for the coming offseason:
950,593 and below = no compensation
950,593 - 1,440,292 = 3rd round pick
1,440,292 - 2,880,587 = 2nd round pick
2,880,587 - 4,320,880 = 1st & 3rd round pick
4,320,880 - 5,761,173 = 1st, 2nd, & 3rd round pick
5,761,173 - 7,201,469 = Two 1st’s, 2nd, & 3rd round pick
7,201,469 and over = Four 1st round picks
The ideal scenario for a team looking to do this would be to make an offer in the 2nd round pick range [a max of $2,880,586 per] to the first player, while simultaneously making an offer in the 1st and 3rd round pick range [a max of $4,320,879 per] to the more valuable of the two RFAs. There is no overlap in compensation and both offers are valid.
The following teams are either cap-locked or will be very soon and cannot match two significant offer sheets:
Boston [Kessel, Krejci]
Chicago [Versteeg, Bolland, Barker]
New York [Zherdev, Dubinsky, Callahan]
Washington [Morrisonn, Jurcina, Fehr]
Other teams with more than one RFA, though not cap-locked or the RFAs aren't as inviting:
Atlanta [Armstrong, Valabik]
Buffalo [Stafford, Sekera]
Carolina [Ruutu, Babchuk]
Edmonton [Grebeshkov, Smid]
Montreal [Higgins, Plekanec, Latendresse]
San Jose [Clowe, Mitchell]
This is a strategy that has no drawbacks. Occasionally, when this topic comes up, someone inevitably responds that you are eliminating future trading partners through this strategy. The thinking being that the target general manager will be so upset that he will swear off trading with the invading general manager forever. The moves that took place on trade deadline day this year did much to dispel that notion. Darcy Regier, the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres made a trade with the Edmonton Oilers, a team that he practically swore blood revenge on two years ago over the Vanek offer sheet, proving that team need is going to trump personal feuds. Unless you're Brian Burke.
The trading partners canard aside, there are no legitimate reasons not to pull something like this, especially for conference rivals. Pinning a team against the cap and taking assets only weakens that team's position and flexibility. The people that run personnel in the NHL are an old boys club that tries to avoid screwing over their old pals, but eventually someone is going to pull this off and open the floodgates.