The biggest problem with offer sheets, in general, is that we don’t know how rare or common they are.
That’s because we only ever hear about the ones that have been signed. In theory and as far as we know, every top restricted free agent in the league receives and turns down a dozen a year. In actual practice, it’s likely far less than that.
Are we to believe that the eight offer sheets signed since the summer of 2005 are the only ones extended? Tough to say, but you’d have to lean toward no. However, the fact that only eight have been signed — often extended by teams desperate enough to give huge money to guys who aren’t necessarily worth it — probably gives you a pretty clear indication of how common they are not.
And moreover, while players have agreed to eight such deals only one has actually led to a player changing teams (Dustin Penner in summer 2007, which cost Edmonton its first-, second-, and third-round picks in the 2008 draft).
There are plenty of reasons why these things are so rare, but the two biggest boil down to compensation and retaliation. Teams are often loath to give up multiple picks, for relatively good reason. And moreover, they’re probably terrified of inflationary retribution on the part of the GM they pissed off in the first place. Take, for example, this Pierre LeBrun quote from just yesterday:
LeBrun: One GM has told me, 'If anyone offer-sheets one of my guys on Friday, I will offer-sheet one of his guys every year for 10 years.'
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 29, 2016
Of course, that kind of retaliation almost never happens in point of fact, in part because it’s impractical. You need to have the compensatory picks on hand, and General Fanager does a good job of illustrating that many teams which are often connected to these rumors often do not. Moreover, you need the cap space, the willingness to actually have that player on your roster at that price point (in effect, so the other GM won’t call your bluff).
Indeed, you need to consider the league-wide economic impact of even extending an offer sheet big enough to both be worth it for the team and lure the player. They are necessarily inflationary of player salaries.
I have to think plenty of guys in 2008 looked at that Penner deal ($4.3 million AAV at the time, $6.1 million in today’s dollars) and said, “If Dustin f’n Penner is worth that, so am I.” In the end, even if you “win” on an offer sheet, it’s going to cost everyone.
So the word of caution to extend before literally any discussion of offer sheets is: They are exceptionally unlikely in even the best of times.
The reason all this comes up is, of course, this week’s sexy rumor that the Bruins are preparing a huge offer sheet for Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. Here’s Joe Haggerty with the, ahem, details:
“Now it appears the Bruins may be willing to put their money, and their assets, where their interest is, and come up with an offer sheet that totals a minimum of $47 million for Trouba’s services.”
Okay, $47 million. Let’s say that’s not the minimum number, and just the number, because anything more than that would be crazy. If you get him for seven years, you’re basically saying you think he’s worth $6.7 million a year. Is Trouba that good? I don’t really think so, yet. Is Boston that desperate for a defenseman? That’s a different discussion entirely.
But as far as the NHL is concerned (or more specifically, the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHL Players Association) the AAV would be the equivalent of $9.4 million, because you divide the total value of the deal by whatever is less: the actual term of the deal, or the number 5.
Compensation for a $47 million offer sheet at that term is therefore the Bruins’ next four first-round picks.
The Bruins could have done a number less than that, had they not traded their second-round pick in the 2017 draft for Lee Stempniak (a guy who was at their captain’s practices last summer) or traded a third-rounder for Zac Rinaldo (who received massive suspensions for being a useless thug in both the NHL and AHL).
Worth noting, though, that while the rumor has often been attributed to Haggerty, it was actually started by a Boston “reporter” named Jimmy Murphy. He’s not worth linking to, but just know that he more or less trades in Eklund-level rumor-mongering: Find two teams with inverse needs, say there’s a discussion ongoing. At least some percentage of the time, you’ll be correct.
Let’s see here:
And here’s a late addition from yesterday:
Those are some pretty glaring Ls to take, especially when you come out and have to refute yourself with respect to those Cam Neely meeting rumors. But that’s what happens when you go out on a limb. And you’ll notice all but that Marchand rumor happened in the last three months or so.
More often, the rumors are along the lines of “Don’t be surprised if #BlueJackets try to swing deal for Ryan Nugent Hopkins. Have some young D depth Oilers would like. $$ an issue though” or “Per reliable source: Arizona already pushing hard to acquire No. 1 pick overall & bring Auston Matthews home to play for Coyotes. #NHLDraft.” Most of this stuff isn’t going to happen, but if you connect the dots, you get cited by reports, like Haggerty’s or this one in the Edmonton Journal’s Cult of Hockey blog about a trade that might send Travis Hamonic or Johnny Boychuk to Edmonton for Taylor Hall.
These were all at least plausible until Peter Chiarelli bafflingly traded Taylor Hall straight-up for Adam Larsson. Probably the worst trade I have ever seen in my life. (More on that in Trending Topics on Friday.)
These are things that could plausibly happen, but when they don’t (as you might imagine, they “don’t” far more often than not), hey, that’s hockey. Trades, players, coaches, etc. get discussed every day.
Who’s Going Where?
Everyone’s going insane. (That’s not as bad a joke as you might think!)
But seriously, it’s just connecting the dots. The Jets are in a bit of a cap crunch, especially on the blue line, and Trouba’s name has been in trade rumors for a while now.
Add in the fact that the Bruins have long had a stated desire for a top-pairing defenseman (whether Trouba fits that description at this point is up for debate) who might be able to replace Zdeno Chara one of these days, and that Don Sweeney has plenty of cap space (more than $21.6 million), and an offer sheet at least becomes plausible.
However, it’s worth noting Murphy has also connected Trouba to the Coyotes and Panthers just since June 13. Again, it’s about throwing as much at the wall as you can to see what sticks.
There are, frankly, a lot of ways this could play out.
It is entirely possible the Bruins are willing to give up four straight first-round picks (likely to be high ones, too, given where this team is headed) and a contract in what Haggerty says is the $7 million-plus range.
They could also be using the threat of an offer sheet to coax the Jets into a trade — a la Toronto trading for Phil Kessel or Calgary trading for Dougie Hamilton, just to name two examples also involving the Bruins — so they don’t have to give up four draft picks.
It’s also possible Trouba gets the offer sheet but doesn’t sign it. It’s also also possible all of this actually happens.
That’s the point of rumors like this: They could happen. They are plausible. They come from a person who at least knows what a team does and does not need, how the CBA works, and so on. But far more often than not, they don’t happen, and again, you get to say that’s fine because lots of things get talked about and almost nothing goes through.
Then again, there’s also this from plugged-in Winnipeg-based reporter Gary Lawless:
some talk about an offer sheet on Jacob Trouba – ftr – #nhljets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told us on air this weekend – he'll match any offer
— gary lawless (@garylawless) June 27, 2016
But here’s the thing: Nothing from Bob McKenzie on this. Nothing from Elliotte Friedman. Nothing from Darren Dreger. Usually, when rumors have actual legs, these are the people putting them out there. It’s not impossible for local reporters to get scoops, of course, but them doing so without one of the national guys getting wind of it is quite rare. Especially where teams based in Canada are concerned.
A window where RFA's can speak with other teams opens on Tuesday. Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones among possible offer sheet candidates.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 26, 2016
And hey look, maybe the Bruins really love Trouba. And maybe if the Hall trade is an indicator of the market for high-level defensemen (Larsson is perhaps a No. 3 right now, at the most, and he netted Taylor Hall for god’s sake!), there really is no other way for the Bruins to get the kind of player they want.
But then again, there are these two words of warning from the fellas pumping the gas on this particular rumor:
It could happen or it could not! If it doesn’t, it’s because they got lied to. Or the team got cold feet. Or something. (And by the way, how often do Dreger/McKenzie/Friedman have their reports denied?)
So who knows, really? But as always when it comes to hockey rumors and every other bit of news you ever get in your life, consider the source.
This Is So Huge, If True: Is It True?
On a B.S. detector scale of 1-5, with one being the most reasonable and 5 being the least:
Jacob Trouba signs an offer sheet with the Bruins with an AAV of at least $6.7 million:
(I’d be far more inclined to believe this it if almost anyone else were reporting it.)
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)
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