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Not surprising: That Jacob Trouba, the Winnipeg Jets’ 22-year-old defenseman, would get an offer sheet as a restricted free agent this summer. We had heard another Eastern Conference team was prepping one before CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty reported on Tuesday night that the Boston Bruins are planning to hand him one. Trouba is coveted. Trouba is sorta available. Odds are that he gets one, even if he doesn’t sign it.
Surprising: That the offer sheet would be so massive that a team would have to give up four first-round picks for him.
But if the Bruins want him, that’s the only avenue at the moment. Check out this General Fanager guide to teams and their offer sheet potential:
— General Fanager (@generalfanager) June 29, 2016
The Bruins’ second-round pick in 2017 went to the Devils in the Lee Stempniak trade. Their third-round pick went to the Flyers for – oh dear god – Zac Rinaldo.
So, in essence, they can only offer the max offer sheet deal if they want to land Trouba, which costs four first-rounders. Foresight!
The good news for the Bruins: for offer sheet purposes, AAV is determined by dividing the total compensation offered by the lesser of the length of the contract, or by five. For contracts longer than five years in term, this will result in a higher AAV than simply dividing the contract total by the number of years.
Example: a 7-year offer sheet worth $49 million total, would be considered an AAV of $9.8 million ($49 million divided by 5) for offer sheet compensation purposes. That means the Bruins could make an offer sheet to Trouba in the $7-8 million per season neighborhood on a seven-year deal, a reasonable contract if Trouba turns into the No. 1 defenseman that the B’s are envisioning.
The real price for the Black and Gold would be surrendering four first round picks, but the Bruins have made five first round picks in the last two years while stockpiling their prospect cupboard. The B’s have also been hit-or-miss with their first round picks, so sacrificing a few of them for a surefire, young defenseman would theoretically be worth the price.
“Our amateur scouting and player personnel work sucks, so let’s just punt on the draft” is a pretty amazing sentiment.
Anyhoo, what do you do here if you’re the Winnipeg Jets and the Bruins break the bank for Trouba?
You probably let him walk.
Yes, he’s 22 years old and he’s a very, very special player: Speed, size, latent offensive skill. His initial ask, based on that potential, was $7 million annually over eight years with the Jets.
But Thomas Drance does a good job of spelling out why the temptation should be there for the Jets to take the compensation, via Jets Nation:
If a potential Trouba offer sheet is structured so as to maximize its ‘poison pill’ impact, I’d have to think just accepting the compensation involved would be tempting for the Jets. And betting against the Bruins over the next four years isn’t the worst spot to be in, considering the age of their top players and some of the mystifying decisions that management group has made over the past 13 months.
One final thing to consider here is that the Jets are relatively deep on the back end, which leaves them somewhat vulnerable to being pilfered by expansion (the club can only protect three defenseman if they opt to protect seven forwards, which seems likely).
Complicating matters further is that Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom have full no-movement clauses and would have to consent to being made available in an expansion draft. Tyler Myers’ no-movement clause was probably vaporized when he was dealt as part of the Evander Kane package, but he’s too good (and on too good of a contract, now that most of his salary has been paid out) to lose for nothing.
(Off topic: If Byfuglien plays 43 games at wing and 41 games on defense, can he be protected as a forward in the expansion draft?)
What changes the offer sheet game in 2016 is the draft lottery, and way it’s moved towards diminishing the odds for the teams that tank. That inversely increases the odds for teams lower in the lottery, and it’s not out of the question that the Bruins land there a couple of times in the next four seasons. So, essentially, you get a solid pick and you get a Powerball ticket.
For the Bruins, it might be worth that gamble. Franchise defensemen are impossible to find, and clearly Sweeney seems something in Trouba that tells him that he can be come one. He fits with what the Bruins need. And unlike Dougie Hamilton, one assumes he’d like to play there.
Offer sheets threats in the NHL, however, are usually a means to another end. The Bruins don’t really want to give up four first-round draft picks. The Jets don’t really want to wait around for four first-round picks to develop vs. getting a significant asset back for Trouba now. (The Blues were asking for David Pastrnak for Kevin Shattenkirk, FYI.)
The threat of the offer sheet, and the threat of the match, could be enough to force a trade that delivers Trouba to the Bruins and some combination of players and picks to Winnipeg.
But if it isn’t, there’s every reason for the Jets to let Trouba fly East.
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