During every offseason there is always some discussion about a particular RFA receiving an offer sheet. While this rarely happens, it is always an option. And with this summer's UFA market so slim, it could be the time the offer sheet option becomes more of a reality. So if this is the offer sheet offseason, what RFA's should the Hurricanes look at extending offer sheets to? While there are several interesting RFA names out there right now, not all will be available July 1st and not all would really fill the holes the Canes have. Players like Jamie Benn, Erik Karlsson, and T.J. Oshie will likely be resigned by their current team before free agency opens. And while players like Mike Green, Ryan O'Reilly, and Erik Johnson are very good players, we have good players that play similar roles. There are even certain players like Alexander Radulov and P.K. Subban, while both could offer the Canes upgrades in talent, they also come with some baggage that might not fit well in the locker room.
So what I have done, or tried to do, is come up with a short list of 6 players (with compensation estimates) that I believe could help improve the Hurricanes and might be available for an offer sheet come July 1st. Remember that each offer sheet comes with the penalty of losing draft picks depending on the compensation amount. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe all draft pick compensation would start with this year's NHL Draft. Last year's draft pick compensation rates were: a 2nd for a contract between $1.56 million & $3.13 million, a 1st & 3rd for a contract between $3.13 million & $4.70 million, a 1st, 2nd, & 3rd for a contract between $4.70 million & $6.26 million, (2) 1st, 2nd, & 3rd for a contract between $6.26 million & $7.83 million, and (4) 1st for any contract higher than $7.83 million.
After the jump I will try to break down why I believe these players will be available for an offer sheet, how they can help the Canes next season, and what contract/cap hit it will take to get them. So please take a look at these options and let me know your thoughts. Would you extend an offer sheet to any of these players? Do you believe they could help the Hurricanes? Is the compensation estimate I came up with close or way off? And is there another RFA that you would consider using an offer sheet on? It's time for everyone to put their Armchair GM hat on!
John Carlson - D
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Carlson is a big, young defenseman that has a lot of upside. He is considered more of an offensive defenseman than a shutdown guy, but he has two-way potential in him. He's also a right handed shot, which seems to be a pretty valuable commodity. He really just completed his 2nd NHL season and you could say that he experienced a "sophomore slump". His point production numbers were still quite good, but his +/- really took a big step backwards. He went from a + 21 in 10/11 to a - 15 in 11/12. While the Caps have money to resign him, I think they have to decide what direction they want to take their team. Are they going to be an offensive team or a defensive team? They also have to decide what to do about a couple of free agents (Mike Green - RFA & Dennis Wideman - UFA) and who is going to replace Alexander Semin & Mike Knuble. This is why I think Carlson might be available for an offer sheet. I think the Canes might consider offering him a 3 year contract worth $11.25 million. Obviously Washington would be able to match that, but I think it is more than they plan on offering him. That means we either get a good, young defenseman that could be paired with Pitkanen or Gleason OR we make Washington's cap situation a little more difficult. I don't know if JR would do something along this line, but he has said before that drafting 1st round defenseman is essentially developing a player for another team. I believe that Carlson will develop further into a strong two-way defenseman and help improve the Canes biggest weakness. Like I said above, he could play with Pitkanen or Gleason, providing some more balance to the blueline. He could also eventually end up partnering with Dumoulin (maybe developing a very good two-way pairing) and could open up some defensive trade possibilities that nets us a top 6 forward.
Matt Duchene - C/LW
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Duchene is one really good player that has the potential to be really special, but he had a rough year this past season. He missed a number of games due to a knee injury and was just not as productive as he was his first 2 seasons. But he is a speedy player that can score goals, pass, and has the ability to be a solid defensive forward. So you might ask, why would the Avs not just go ahead and sign him? Well, Colorado has a couple of situations this offseason in the form of multiple free agents. The Avs currently have 9 roster RFA's that need new contracts this summer and a few will probably be due some nice raises. Along with Duchene, some other big names are: Steve Downie, Ryan O'Reilly, Jaime McGinn, and Erik Johnson. The Avs have plenty of cap space, but how much money is their ownership willing to dish out? If things don't move smoothly, I can see Duchene available for an offer sheet. I'm thinking a contract in the neighborhood of 4 years, $20 million might be enticing to the young man and something Colorado's front office might not be willing to match. It would cost the Canes their first 3 draft pick, but Duchene could end up being worth it if he can get us in the Playoffs. He could potential fill one of two holes, either playing with Staal or centering the Skinner line. With Staal, he could either play LW or C and provide Eric another top level player who can do it all to play with. Or he could center the Skinner line, provide it with the same thing. Duchene is not the biggest guy, but he is solidly built and again, he could end up being one special player.
Evander Kane - LW
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Kane is a very exciting & interesting player that provides some physicality. Unlike the first 2 players I selected to focus on, Kane ended up having his best pro year this past season. He reached the 30 goal mark and was a +11 on a team that was -21 in the scoring department. Evander is sort of an Erik Cole type of player that the Canes missed last season. He's got good size, a willingness to crash the net, and is a very good skater. But he probably has move goal scoring ability/potential than Cole did. He's not the best playmaker, but Staal seemed to improve that aspect of his game last season. I really couldn't imagine why Winnipeg would not just resign/qualify him, but there have been some rumors spreading about him leaving town. I think this all stems from an alleged dining incident that seems to have soured some things in Winnipeg for Kane. This might all blow over or might be one of those weird things that effects contract negotiations. If a new contract is delayed, the Canes could swoop in and extend an offer sheet. It would probably take a pretty hefty contract, maybe a $25 million deal for 5 years. This might get Kane thinking of returning to the Southeast United States and might make Winnipeg think the 3 draft picks would be enough compensation. If this did happen, I see Kane playing alongside Staal. Giving Eric a fast, powerful linemate who can score some goals and provide the Hurricanes with some more size.
Chris Stewart - RW
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Stewart is probably the closest thing on this list to a "project" player and we all know how JR likes his "projects". Stewart had a pretty disappointing season and I think most would agree. He had 2 straight 28 goal seasons and 50+ points, then this past season happened. He had times of being regulated to the 4th line and scored at 0.38 PPG clip, which is less than half of what he averaged in the 10/11 season. These numbers definitely don't scream offer sheet, but I believe Chris Stewart is better than last season and a power forward RW is something we need. I think the Canes could offer as little as 2 years, $7.5 million and I think St. Louis would let him go for the 1st & 3rd. They still have to resign 2 important RFA's in T.J. Oshie & David Perron and fill out their defense. I don't know their new ownership's financial situation, but I can't see them matching the contract and having Stewart as their 3rd or 4th highest paid player. On the Canes, Stewart would most likely end up playing on either Staal or Skinner's line, providing some size, strength, and a little bit of speed. The 2 year deal would limit the Canes liability, just in case this past season was not just an aberration. This would be a risky move that could have high reward, but I believe Stewart's main issue was with the coaching staff and will be better in a new location, but I'm not sure he is worth the #8 pick.
Jakub Voracek - RW
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Voracek is a player that I think we all have looked at before and will continue to look at until he gets a long-term contract. He joined a new team last season as part of a big trade and continued to be an effective winger. He is more of a playmaker than a scoring, but will drop in around 15 goals a season. He also has good size, protects the puck well, contributes on the PP, and is defensively responsible. The reason he might be available for an offer sheet is because the Flyers already have a bunch of money dedicated to players, still have a couple of positions to fill out, and supposedly contract negotiations have dragged on longer than expected. Voracek signed a 1 year, $2.25 million deal before last season and he is looking for more this time around. Maybe the Canes could offer 3 years, $12.75 million. Either the Canes gain Voracek and lose a 1st & 3rd or Philly matches and puts themselves under a lot of cap pressure. If we got Voracek, I would imagine he would line up on Staal's right side and would hopefully help get Staal the puck in prime scoring areas. He along with Tlusty should make the 1st line a lot better defensively, so we don't see Staal in the - 20 range anymore. Voracek would also probably play the point on one of the PP units. I would actually say that this would probably be a pretty good acquisition if the Canes could make the Playoffs the next 3 seasons.
Shea Weber - D
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Shea Weber, a player that could really have a huge impact on the multiple teams if he is extended an offer sheet. He is arguably the best all-around defensive player in the league. He owns a cannon of a shot, is an effective passer from the backend, is defensively responsible, and plays a physical game. He scores more than a lot of forwards and has been a + player every year in the NHL except for one. There could definitely be issues with his contract negotiations, Nashville is a low budget team and is going to have to dedicate big money to either Weber or Suter and the cheaper option (Suter) might be more realistic for them. Weber would probably prefer to go to a Canadian team or Stanley Cup contender, so if the Canes made a offer sheet pitch, it's going to have to be a big number. This is just a guess, but I would imagine the offer would need to be in the 6 year, $50 million contract. That's A LOT of money, but to get this level of player, we would have to pay it. That not only limits what else we could do, but it also means losing 4 1st round picks. I think Weber is an awesome player, but this is simply not worth it. If someone could make a good argument for it, I would love to hear it.
So what are your thoughts? Would you advocate extending an offer sheet to any of these players or someone else? Or do you believe we should maintain our normal course of action, acquiring players through the draft, through unrestricted free agency, and trades?