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Dual Offer Sheets Could Yield A Bounty In A Reduced Cap World

The cap is going down and teams are squeezed for space as it is. For those teams with multiple high-quality restricted free agents, pressure to give one of those RFAs more money than budgeted for could be enough to land an outstanding young player.

Mike Stobe

I've talked about this idea before, both here and here.

The concept of a dual offer sheet is simple: send offer sheets to two separate restricted free agents currently employed by the same team, especially when that team is in some amount of cap distress. Essentially, you are forcing a team to make a choice between their assets.

With the cap dipping to $64 million next season here are the estimated salary ranges and corresponding compensation for 2013-2014:

Salary Range Compensation

$ 1,024,845 No Compensation
$ 1,024,845 $ 1,552,794 2014 3rd round pick
$ 1,552,794 $ 3,105,684 2014 2nd round pick
$ 3,105,684 $ 4,658,386 2014 1st round pick, 2014 3rd round pick
$ 4,658,386 $ 6,211,182 2014 1st round pick, 2014 2nd round pick, 2014 3rd round pick
$ 6,211,182 $ 7,763,978 2014 1st round pick, 2015 1st round pick, 2014 2nd round pick, 2014 3rd round pick
$ 7,763,978
2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 1st round picks.

A sharp General Manager could send two offer sheets and risk his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks in the 2014 draft. An offer sheet between $1,552,794 and $3,105,684 would require a 2nd round pick as compensation. An offer sheet between $3,105,684 and $4,658,386 would require a 1st and a 3rd round pick as compensation.

The best way to make sure the strategy makes an impact is to target teams who are either cash poor or cap-strapped with two worthwhile RFAs and force that team's General Manager to make a decision. Below is a list of teams with financial issues and attractive RFAs.

Chicago Blackhawks:
Nick Leddy ($1,116,666)
Marcus Kruger ($900,000)

  • These are both nice young players, but neither are worth the top tier of compensation with other better options available.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artem Anisimov ($1,875,000)
Sergei Bobrovsky ($1,750,000)
Cam Atkinson ($875,000)

  • Anisimov is at the very top of my list as one of the three most desirable players available, but any plans of getting him below $3.1 million won't work unless you're also a GM who really likes goaltending and might be willing to offer Bobrovsky more than $3.1 million. But Anisimov might be worth the upper range, especially if it gives a team a shot at Cam Atkinson in the lower range. Atkinson is just developing his offensive game, but Anisimov is the real prize. He's an enormous tough minutes centre who tilts the ice, kills penalties, and will contribute offensively, even in a tough situation. At 24, he's certainly worth the 1st and 3rd round picks.

Edmonton Oilers
Sam Gagner ($3,200,000)
Magnus Paajarvi ($1,525,000)

  • Gagner is enjoying his finest offensive season of his career and his worst possession season of his career at the same time. His scoring numbers are going to take a step back, but if his possession numbers rebound - a 24 year old 50 point centre with 400 games under his belt is certainly worth $3.1 - $4.0 million. The gem in Edmonton is Paajarvi - he's been a breakeven possession player all along, but he's not yet put the complete offensive package together. He's also shown flashes of talent on the penalty kill and could easily fetch the mid point of the 2nd round compensation range.

Los Angeles Kings
Alec Martinez ($737,500)
Jake Muzzin ($577,500)
Slava Voynov ($816,666)

  • The Kings have a group of young, effective defensemen all hitting RFA at the same time. It's doubtful any of them are worth the upper range.

Nashville Predators
Patric Hornqvist ($3,083,333)
Roman Josi ($1,000,000)
Jonathan Blum ($650,000)

  • The second guy at the top of my list is Josi. He's clearly benefiting from playing with Shea Weber, but Josi is marvelous with the puck, both on his own or in transition. He's playing 23 minutes a night in Nashville and totaled 16 points in 34 games (11 at even strength), second to Weber among defensemen, but tied with Weber at even strength. He's 22 and playing tough minutes, but he's slightly in the hole when it comes to possession. Put him on a second pairing and he would wreak havoc through the neutral zone. He's talented enough with the puck and has a big enough shot that he will be a weapon on the power play as well. Getting him out of Nashville will be the issue. I'm not a big fan of Hornqvist, and wouldn't offer him the upper bound, but Jonathan Blum in the lower bound isn't exciting either. Josi is certainly worth the upper range, however.

New York Rangers
Ryan McDonagh ($1,300,000)
Carl Hagelin ($875,000)

  • Carl Hagelin is the absolute nuts when it comes to underrated players. He tilts the ice no matter who he's playing with - his WOWYs are something to behold. He has a bit of offense to go with the possession game as well. He's definitely worth the bottom tier max. Ryan McDonagh is going to get paid by the Rangers and is definitely worth $4.6 million per if the Rangers choose to fiddle with him.

St. Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo ($3,166,666)
Chris Stewart ($3,000,000)
Patrik Berglund ($2,250,000)
Ian Cole ($1,300,000)
Kris Russell ($1,300,000)
Kevin Shattenkirk ($1,300,000)

  • So you say you're in the market for a defenseman. Well, St. Louis is here to help. The Blues have four defensemen available here, and already have Jay Bouwmeester, Barret Jackman and Roman Polak under contract. Pietrangelo is clearly the best of the bunch, is worth more than $4.6 million per year and will get more than $4.6 million per year. If he doesn't, don't make the same mistake everyone made with Subban - pay the man and steal him. Ian Cole is another interesting guy in the lower category. Prior to the Bouwmeester trade, he was playing second-level minutes and doing well, but he needs a partner who can get the puck out on his own - he's a defensive guy that doesn't contribute much to the offensive side of things.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Nazem Kadri ($1,720,000)
Carl Gunnarsson ($1,325,000)

  • Kadri will come crashing back to earth next season, and Gunnarsson isn't as good as others available through RFA. But they're an interesting combination to check out, especially if you can peg Kadri's value going forward.

Winnipeg Jets
Blake Wheeler ($2,550,000)
Zach Bogosian ($2,500,000)
Bryan Little ($2,383,333)
Alexander Burmistrov ($1,500,000)

  • The Jets are the team that have my favorite dual sheet. Offer Bogosian the upper range, towards $4.25 - $4.5 million and Burmistrov the lower range around $2.75 million. While neither are individually my favorite RFAs, as a GM, I'd be extremely happy with either one at that price. Bogosian is playing top competition and breaking even when zonestarts are accounted for. He's developing into a very good penalty killer and at 23 minutes per night, he can handle the workload of a first-pairing defenseman. Burmistrov might be in the doghouse in Winnipeg, but he's an excellent even strength player and capable of playing in a variety of roles with a variety of linemates.