With the 2011 Free Agency period set to begin at noon on July 1st, many teams and fans are anixous to see how their team can be improved with new signings. This year’s corp of free agents is considered to be weak compared to previous years, but there are a few players that can help turn a franchise around.
Another route to go in this free agent market is to sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet. With the biggest RFA being sniper Steven Stamkos, should your Ottawa Senators make a bold statement and try to sign RFA superstar Steven Stamkos to a huge offer sheet? Let’s look at the pros and cons of doing so.
To begin, signing Stamkos to an offer sheet depends on two criteria: Firstly, for Stamkos to sign an offer sheet, it depends on him not being signed by noon on July 1st. If he hasn’t inked a new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning by then, expect 29 teams to be contemplating sending him an offer sheet. The second criteria is that Stamkos has to sign the offer sheet. For instance, if a team like the Florida Panthers were to send Stamkos an offer sheet, I think most would believe he would reject it as the Panthers are in a complete rebuild mode and are a long way from being competitive.
So if Stamkos is unsigned by noon on July 1st and agrees to sign an offer sheet with a team, there are still two more hurdles to get by before he can don a new team jersey. Firstly, the amount that it will take to sign Stamkos to an offer sheet will need to be enormous. Bolts GM Steve Yzerman has already stated that the team will match any offer sheet given to Stamkos. But will a team call his bluff and offer Stamkos the moon? The second hurdle to get over will be the seven day period the Bolts will have to match the offer. Once a offer sheet is signed, the team holding the players rights has a week to either match the offer sheet, or let him walk and take the compensation of draft picks for the player.
So say all the chips fall into place and Ottawa is able to sign Stamkos to an offer sheet, what would be the magic number that will get him out of Tampa? Considering the Bolts already stated that they would match any offer sheet, and that their owner has very deep pockets, the magic number will need to be huge. The annual salary range will have to be in the neighborhood of $9 – $12 million per for not only to have Stamkos sign it, but also to have Tampa not match it. Is Stamkos worth that much? Should he be one of the highest paid players in the entire league?
In Stamkos, you get a top five player in the league. At only 21 years old, he has not even reached his prime yet. It took him a half season in his rookie year to figure out how to play in the league, and since then he has been tearing it up. With seasons of 51 and 45 goals under his belt, Stamkos is the best pure goal scorer in the league today. His deadly one-timer from the face-off circle can only be matched by the great ‘Golden’ Brett Hull. And with great size and a little edge to him, Stamkos can line up as a center or ride shotgun on the wing.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Ottawa. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were never available to have an offer sheet presented to them. Niether was Alex Ovechkin. Superstars never are available this young and in (or going into) their prime years. This may be the chance for Ottawa to steal one of the top five players in the league. And with a great play-making center in Jason Spezza feeding him the puck, Stamkos may be able to reach 60 or more goals.
With Ottawa having the 29th ranked offence last season, they are in desparate need of goal scoring. They have many complimentary players in their system, but no elite level, impact scorers. Stamkos would instantly make them a threat to score every time he is on the ice, and with a total of 50 powerplay goals in his last three seasons, Stamkos would once again make Ottawa’s powerplay matter.
Stamkos is also only 21 years old. He would not be a one year pick-up/rental. He would become one of the faces of the franchise and a core member of Ottawa’s leadership core. And with the turnover in our roster last season and in the years to come, Stamkos could be a leader for the next wave of Sens.
There are two main problems with presenting an offer sheet to a player. The first is compensation. When signing a player to an offer sheet, the compensation is draft picks. Depending on the salary, the compensation is:
$994,433 or below – No Compensation
$994,434 – $1,506,717 – 2010 3rd round pick
$1506,718 – $3,013,433 – 2010 2nd round pick
$3,013,433 – $4,520,150 – 2010 1st round pick, 2010 3rd round pick
$4,520,151 – $6,026,867 – 2010 1st round pick, 2010 2nd round pick, 2010 3rd round pick
$6,026,868 – $7,533,584 – 2010 1st round pick, 2011 1st round pick, 2010 2nd round pick, 2010 3rd round pick
Over $7,533,584 – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 1st round picks.
(Note: compensation numbers above are from the 2009-2010 season)
Therefore, to be able to sign Stamkos to a huge offer sheet, in the $9 million plus range, it would cost Ottawa their own four first round picks. Is that a price to high to pay? Can Ottawa afford to take a chance and not have any first round picks in the next four years?
The second problem when signing a player to an offer sheet is retaliation. When you steal a player from another team, most times they will look to return the favor and poach one of your your stars away when they get a chance. Can Ottawa risk having Erik Karlsson receive an offer sheet from Tampa in retaliation to a Stamkos offer sheet?
When looking at the pors and the cons, I think it is worth it to at least send Stamkos an offer sheet. The upside of Stamkos in an Ottawa jersey is great. He could increase scoring, help the powerplay, and help lead the next wave of Sens. As for the cons, with how the Murray’s and co draft these last few years, not having a first rounder should not be too much of a problem. As for retaliation, all Ottawa has to do is take care of their business and sign their RFA’s and not let them get to the stage where they can receive offer sheets.
Those are my thoughts on offering Stamkos an offer sheet, what are yours?
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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