It’s something that the New York Islanders have never used, but an offer sheet is a tool that is readily available to pluck a desireable RFA.
Every free agency window New York Islanders fans hear about the elusive offer sheet. A tool that’s available to all NHL General Managers if they chose to use it. (Which they typically don’t).
Typically GMs tend to trade for RFAs rather than go through offer sheets. To be fair to GMs around the league, offer sheets are deincentivized by the league thanks to compensation rules they drafted up.
But what is this offer sheet that we always hear about, but never actually see? And why don’t General Managers use whatever tool is necessary to improve their teams?
What Is An Offer Sheet And What Does It Mean?
Simply put, an offer sheet is a contract offer that another team will give to an RFA. For example, Ryan Pulock is an RFA. Come July 1st if Pulock hasn’t signed with the Islanders any of the other 30 teams in the NHL can offer him a contract.
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Now, because the Islanders tendered Ryan Pulock a qualifying offer they retain the rights of first refusal. Meaning that the Isles can decide to match or let Pulock sign the offer sheet that was given to him. The Isles have seven days to decide what they’ll do.
So, for example, let’s say the Pittsburgh Penguins offer Ryan Pulock a deal worth $6 million per season for five years and he says yes. Thanks to that qualifying offer the Isles gave him, they can agree to sign him for the same dollar (signing bonuses and all) and term or let him sign the offer sheet with the Penguins.
But thanks to compensation rules, the New York Islanders wouldn’t lose their prized restricted free agent for nothing.
In our example, Ryan Pulock just agreed to an offer sheet from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Isles have two options. They can match, or take the compensation.
The compensation for the offer sheet is entirely based on the Average Annual Value (AAV) of the deal. In the example, Pulock signed a deal worth $6 million a year. If the Isles don’t match the offer they’d be entitled to receive the Penguins first and third-round pick in the 2019 draft.
It’s important to note that the picks going back in compensation have to be that teams original picks. Picks acquired from other teams can’t be used for offer sheet compensation.
The asterisk (*) in the table notes what the minimum contract value (AAV) the New York Islanders can give to another team’s RFA. Anything above $10.148 million is all the Isles can do. That’s because the Isles don’t have their own second or third-round pick in 2019.
The Isles second round in 2019 was sent to Vegas as part of expansion draft considerations. And their third rounder went to Edmonton to acquire Brandon Davidson at the 2018 trade deadline.
Isles And Offer Sheets
Can the Isles give out offer sheets or even be susceptible to one? The answer to both is “no, kinda”.
The Islanders don’t have their own second and third-round pick (they also don’t have their fourth-rounder thanks to the Hamonic trade). That means the Islanders can’t offer sheet a player for less than $10.148 million AAV.
While that’s technically possible it’s absolutely unreasonable to think it could happen. The premier RFA on the market is Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators. His 62 points in 58 games were outstanding, but he isn’t worth above $10 million a year.
Unless Lou goes crazy and tosses a ton of money at Mark Stone, the Isles aren’t going to be making deals with other teams RFAs.
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When it comes to being susceptible to offer sheets, the Isles have the most cap space in the league. They could easily match any offer sheet that is made to one of their five RFAs: Ryan Pulock, Brock Nelson, Devon Toews, Ross Johnston and Kyle Burroughs.