The modern day restricted free agent offer sheet is few and far between. As a matter of fact, zero offer sheets have been offered to a player since the Flames went after Ryan O’Reilly in 2013.
Offer sheets are dangerous animals. They require money, draft picks, and more often than not, a big risk.
The last successful offer sheet came in July of 2007 when the Oilers pried Dustin Penner out of Anaheim at an offer sheet of five years and $21.5 million. In that move, Edmonton said goodbye to their first, second, and third-round draft picks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The then young Penner went on to eclipse the 50-point mark just once, a 32-goal, 62-point season in 2009-10, and they failed to make the playoffs throughout the duration of that contract and it contributed to the continued downfall of the Oilers organization. Penner was traded out of Edmonton with a year and a half remaining on his deal.
This is just one example, but the risk involved in offer sheeting is apparent, and if the Hurricanes plan on taking that risk this offseason, here’s the potential draft pick compensation they’ll be held to:
With the compensation in mind, let’s take a look at some viable options for the Hurricanes in the RFA market.
Note: The Hurricanes own all but one of their draft picks over the next four seasons, except their own fifth-round pick that was traded to Chicago for Kris Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom, and a 2017 third-round draft pick, so they are able to compensate for any player they would submit an offer sheet for.
Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers
Emerging star Leon Draisaitl is coming off of his entry-level contract and is the most notable restricted free agent this summer, and with Zack Kassian, Eric Gryba, and Kris Russell all due for new contracts, the Oilers could run out of money fast.
This first and very unlikely option would fill Carolina’s first-line center hole and immediately bolster the team’s offense. The German-born center is fresh off of a 48-assist, 77-point season in Edmonton. He then took another step forward for the Oilers in the postseason, where he logged 16 points in 13 games.
Draisaitl would require a huge offer sheet, likely in the fifth tier of compensation, which would cost Carolina a first, second, and third-round draft pick in the 2018 draft.
On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer for Carolina. Draisaitl’s value is at least that given his age and production as an NHL player through two seasons. However, Edmonton would match that offer in a heartbeat.
They could be strapped for cap room, but Draisaitl would undoubtedly be their top priority. A slightly more likely option for the Hurricanes would be trading for Draisaitl’s rights or executing a sign and trade with the Oilers. That would likely require Justin Faulk and prospects/draft picks going the other way, and they’d be competing with almost the entire league.
Draisaitl is the most talked about pending RFA, but he’s more than a longshot, he’s a near impossibility. It would be one of the most shocking successful offer sheets in the history of the league.
Radek Faksa, C, Dallas Stars
A more realistic option can be found in Dallas’ young center Radek Faksa. Like Draisaitl, Faksa is a former first-round draft pick coming off of his ELC, but his path to being an NHL regular was much tougher.
He spent two more years in the OHL after this draft years and saw his fair share of AHL time with the Texas Stars before finally playing his first full season with the Stars a season ago.
Faksa, who was rumored as a potential draft option for the Hurricanes in 2012 before they traded for Jordan Staal, is a big center who is good in the faceoff circle, drives possession and has offensive upside.
He won 50% of his faceoffs and posted a 52% Corsi share on his way to netting 12 goals and logging 33 points last season.
With Derek Ryan potentially on the way out, Faksa would be an upgrade as a third-line center, and his youth gives him room to grow as a player. He’d likely be slotted in the third tier of compensation, which would cost Carolina a second-round draft pick in 2018.
Seeing a second-round pick go would be tough, but exchanging it for a young center with size and the ability to fit in perfectly in what Carolina is doing down the middle makes it far more palatable.
Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, Minnesota Wild
Once upon a time, Nino Niederreiter was drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders and then promptly had one point in 55 games as a rookie a season later.
Now a member of the Wild, the young Swiss winger has turned things around and is fresh off of a 25-goal, 57-point season, both career highs, and is due for big raise from his current $2.7 million salary.
Minnesota is one of the teams that will be running into cap trouble this offseason. With big money players Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, and Jared Spurgeon all under contract and players in for big raises like Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, and Matt Dumba, they’ll have to do something about their current jam, and Carolina could be a great suitor for them.
The Wild will not pick until the third round (85th pick) in June’s draft after trading away both their first and second round picks for Martin Hanzal and Chris Stewart, respectively, over the past two seasons. Carolina, on the other hand, has six picks in the first three rounds and would be willing to part with some of them for the right deal.
Signing a lofty RFA offer sheet for Niederreiter would make some sense, but trading for the player’s rights would make even more sense, as it would for Draisaitl or Faksa. The player’s name has been involved in trade rumors due to his expiring deal and Minnesota’s cap concerns.
On top of the cap trouble, Minnesota is a team that will be in trouble in the expansion draft. No matter how you cut it, they’ll lose a player like Niederreiter, Dumba, or Brodin in expansion. And if you’re Minnesota, you’d rather get something as opposed to nothing for these players, especially given their lack of draft picks.
He would fit right into Carolina’s top-six as a big, goal-scoring winger. He’s a guy that could open up room for guys like Sebastian Aho or Jeff Skinner and he has the skill to net 25+ goals on his own.
His possession numbers are also great. He drove a 55.41% Corsi rate last season on a team that plays very similarly to the Hurricanes and his ability to play either wing is also a plus for Carolina.
In a scenario in which Minnesota trades Niederreiter, it would have to be for picks and/or expansion exempt players, so Justin Faulk wouldn’t be used here. Given his contract situation, none of Carolina’s current top-four d-men would be dangled in a trade for him, unless it was a sign and trade situation that Ron Francis is on board with, which is unlikely given how he could easily exploit Minnesota’s situation and get the player for much less.
Minnesota fails to check all three boxes here: cap, expansion, and draft picks. Carolina, on the other hand, is set up perfectly in all three areas, so this could be a situation where Ron Francis can take full advantage of the Wild and the Hurricanes would make out like gangbusters.