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Thinking Small with Offer Sheets

Some offer sheets don't require any compensation at all. We should see more of them.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the discussion about offer sheets this season has revolved around some pretty impressive talent. There have been rumors about an offer sheet for players like Dougie Hamilton, Brandon Saad, and Vladimir Tarasenko. It makes sense. These are impact players, and even if these players don't end up receiving offer sheets, the threat of an offer sheet might result in the targeted team making a trade (e.g. Hamilton and Saad) or paying more than they might otherwise like (Saad and Tarasenko are likely future examples; Tomas Vanek is a pretty famous past example). This is just good strategy. But there's no reason for it to be restricted to the big guns.

All of the players mentioned above would have seen significant compensation going to the opposing team, but that's not the case for every offer sheet. In fact, any contract offer up to $1.2M requires no compensation at all. That number is higher than the $0.95M that teams are able to bury in the minors without any cap penalty. Now, $0.25M may not seem like much (it's less than 1% of the salary cap), but for cap crunched teams, every dollar counts. The same is even more true of teams on a budget who may not want to spend over a million dollars on assets they're not sure about.

So what kind of players could be targeted with an offer like this? Some of the better candidates have been signed in the last few days (e.g. Austin Watson in Nashville), but there are still some good bets out there. I've listed three from the Western Conference that might be good fits for the Oilers:

Calvin Pickard - Colorado Avalanche - The Oilers have been looking for goaltending for a while now, and have attempted to address the issue by trading for and then signing Cam Talbot. But surely another strong, young option wouldn't hurt. Pickard's AHL numbers have been solid since turning pro (his AHL save percentage is .914), and he was excellent in 16 NHL games last season, posting a .932 save percentage. The Avalanche already have two goalies signed to multi-year NHL contracts, which makes them vulnerable to a $1.2M offer sheet here.

Jordan Weal - Los Angeles Kings - Weal has been close to a point per game in the AHL in each of the last two seasons, and finished third overall in AHL scoring in 2014-15. With the Kings in some measure of cap trouble, they're likely counting on Weal to come cheap on any one-way deal. The Oilers can afford to pay him a little bit more and have the young center compete with Anton Lander and Mark Letestu for a spot as the third or fourth-line center. Would the Kings match a $1.2M offer sheet on Weal? Maybe, but it would make their cap just a little bit tighter.

Jamie Oleksiak - Dallas Stars - Oleksiak's development has been slower than expected in Dallas, but the former first-round pick is still huge, and as Enzo Amore has taught me, you can't teach that. The Stars already have seven defensemen on one-way deals, and I don't see any obvious candidates for demotion. Oleksiak would need to clear waivers this year, so they may be planning on keeping him with the big club on a cheap one-way deal; a $1.2M offer sheet would make him their fifth highest-paid defenseman. Are they willing to do that? Probably. Let's make them.

That last point is an important one. In an efficiency contest, forcing the teams you're competing with for playoff spots to spend more than they would otherwise on a player has value. If an offer sheet works, you've added talent for nothing but money and that has value; but even if you don't get the player, you've gained a small competitive advantage, and that has value too.