While the Anaheim Ducks are sniffing around Kevin Bieksa(notes) and their beat writers are theorizing about a Jason Blake(notes)-for-Sheldon Souray swap, there's still the rather uncomfortable matter of winger Bobby Ryan's(notes) continued restricted free agency.
But he's not the only great young winger sitting in RFA limbo in the Western Conference: There's also James Neal(notes) of the Dallas Stars, who made $821,667 against the cap last season, scoring 27 goals.
Why haven't either of them received an offer sheet from another team? Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News had a great bit about RFAs and offer sheets in a "newsletter" piece this week; acknowledging that the teams would likely match them, unless the offers were "ridiculous" and front-loaded.
I do believe that if the offer was in excess of an average of $4.637 million (and it would seem it would have to be because the Ducks already have offered Ryan a five-year, $25 million deal), then either Dallas or Anaheim would have to consider taking a first, second and third round draft pick as compensation from the signing team. [...]
Bottom line, agents for Neal (Pat Morris) and Ryan (Don Meehan) (they are both with Newport Sports Management) have probably been out there for more than three weeks trying to drum up RFA offer sheets, and have not been able to accomplish that task.
The other course of action for both Ryan and Neal is to just remain unsigned through the start of the season, knowing that if they're not signed by Dec. 1, they're ineligible to play until the following season.
Heika believes the Stars can play hardball with Neal because his options are limited and they have options on left wing (like Jamie Benn(notes)) that can hold the fort early in the season. From Heika:
If I had to make a prediction on this thing, it will be that Neal and his agent will eventually propose a one-year contract at what they believe is a rate the Stars would take. That way, Neal could go into camp on time, try to hit a home run with a 40-goal season and then have the option of arbitration next summer. In addition, if new ownership is in place for the Stars by then, my guess is the negotiating environment would be a lot better.
As we said earlier this summer: Cap space doesn't equal spending space. The Dallas Stars are in an ownership muddle that's likely preventing any long-term solution with Neal. The Anaheim Ducks have a healthy amount of cap space ($15,551,250) but James Wisniewski(notes) (RFA) and Teemu Selanne(notes) (UFA) are out there along with Bobby Ryan.
Meanwhile, we're all left wondering if Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan want to be the NHL's answer to LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh come 2013.