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Restricted Free Agent Compensation In 2016

So you want to sign a restricted free agent to offer sheet? This is what it'll cost you in compensation.

Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Offer sheets, who doesn’t love them? Taking advantage of the salary cap restraints of another team to make your team better, how can you not enjoy that? Unfortunately this is a tool that, for whatever reason, (fear of a barn fight perhaps) NHL general managers tend to shy away from using. In his 30 Thoughts piece this morning, Elliotte Friedman referred to off sheets as "the unicorn of the NHL We love them but rarely see them." I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a better description.

On this site we love offer sheets. In fact we like to take things a step further by bringing up the idea of a dual offer sheet - you sign two players from one team to offer sheets, effectively forcing that team to choose which one they want to keep - on an annual basis. And even if these scenarios never play out like we would hope, they always make for fun speculation between now and the July when there is so little else to do.

That speculation can’t really begin until the compensation chart is released though. Again, from Friedman’s 30 Thoughts:

Average Annual Value RFA Compensation
Less than $1,239,226 Nothing
Over $1,239,226 to $1,877,615 Third-round pick
Over $1,877,615 to $3,755,233 Second-round pick
Over $3,755,233 to $5,632,847 First and third-round picks
Over $5,632,847 to $7,510,464 First, second and third-round picks
Over $7,510,464 to $9,388,080 Two firsts, a second and third-round picks
Over $9,388,080 Four first-round picks

As of today the Oilers are still in possession of all seven of their selections in the 2017 draft, the picks would be owed as compensation for signing a restricted free agent this summer, so the team is in theory able to pursue whatever restricted free agent that their heart desired. It’s worth remembering though that the Oilers still owe the Boston Bruinssecond round draft pick as compensation for hiring Peter Chiarelli, and that pick must be given up either this year or next; the compensation owed for hiring Todd McLellan was given up at the draft last year.

If the Oilers choose to use their second round pick this year, a pick which will be early in the second day at 33rd overall, then the Bruins will own the Oilers’ second round pick next summer; which will in turn limit the Oilers’ restricted free agent options to those players worth somewhere between $3.7M and $5.6M annually. And it will also effectively kill the idea/dream of the Oilers going the route of a dual offer sheet this summer. My gut tells me that the Oilers are going to use that pick, so the dream of another offer sheet might have to wait a year.


Thanks to the NHLPA the Oilers can now defer that compensatory pick by a year if they sign a player to offer sheet this summer. So let the speculation begin.