The Reality of RFA’s and Offer Sheets

Have you ever wondered why “armchair GM” is spoken with sneers one might reserve for a villain in a cartoon?

It isn’t because thinking up potential deals your favorite team might make is a bad thing. Actually, it’s a fun way for us fans to keep ourselves entertained during the off-season when there’s no sports on TV…just games like baseball, golf and the occasional monster truck rally on Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY. It’s only natural to want your team to improve in the way that you want it to. But the reason armchair GM is sort of derogatory is because the vast majority of people think up absolutely ludicrous trades and deals, ones that other GMs would laugh at Mike Gillis straight in his face for. Oh, let’s trade Tanner Glass’ rights for Ovechkin! Maybe not that crazy but some of you are coming close.

This isn’t isolated to the Canucks fans but after coming oh-so-close to the Stanley Cup, I’m going to chalk all the ridiculous suggestions up to hockey withdrawal and temporary insanity.

Yes, who wouldn’t want Sidney Crosby on the Canucks but there isn’t an ice cream cone’s chance in hell that we could get him. At least not a deal that would work for the Canucks. This is important when playing armchair GM. Keep in mind if you want a deal to go through, there has to be a good reason for the other team to make that trade. Ray Shero isn’t going to give Crosby away because he thinks he can improve the Canucks. We’d have to probably offer both Sedins, Kesler and five consecutive 1st round picks to pry that guy away from the Penguins. Why on earth would the Pens trade him otherwise?

You might be thinking this is a stretch but what some of you are suggesting is just as silly, especially with the current crop of top quality restricted free agents out there.

“We lost Ehrhoff’s salary…now let’s send an offer sheet to Shea Weber/Drew Doughty/Steven Stamkos/etc! They’d be a great fit on the Canucks and they’ll want to play on a Cup contender!”

There are reasons only a few NHL restricted free agents have been successfully signed away via offer sheet. One, because the compensation that goes back the other way is so absurd and two, because the amount of money you’d have to offer is twice as absurd.

Take Shea Weber, for example, since so many of you have been talking about Weber recently. For simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to list the reasons why this will never happen and if it did, why we should all be gathering around Mike Gillis’ place with torches and pitchforks.

  1. The Nashville Predators have filed for salary arbitration so it is impossible for the Canucks to tender an offer sheet.
  2. …but even if he wasn’t…the amount of money the Canucks would have to offer would be insanity. Lots of you are thinking “Weber should make something similar to Chara or Lidstrom money since he’s a Norris candidate.” and you’d be right. Weber will probably get something like $6 million a year for many years and yes, that would be a fantastic deal for the Canucks. But you’re not thinking here. A $6m deal would be a great one for the Predators so they would match it right away, thanking us for making them such a great deal for Weber. No, if the Canucks were to tender an offer sheet, it would be closer to $8.5-9m for there to be a chance the Predators don’t match. Are you willing to stack $9m for Weber? Especially with the salary cap and Edler, Burrows, Manny’s deals up in two years?
  3. An offer sheet exceeding $6,539,062 a year will cost the team making the offer FOUR first round picks. Granted that the Canucks have one of the weakest draft records in the NHL…that might not seem like a terrible deal but consider that Weber himself was a 2nd round pick. The Canucks are likely to draft at the late end of the first round but still, there are four potential stars you’re giving away for an established one. It’s a gamble and not a very good one.

The same goes for any of the high-profile RFAs “available” in 2011. The money we’d have to offer would be insane and absolutely destroy the culture of “take less money to play for a team that will stop at nothing to win” the Canucks have created in the past few years. Weber is a great player…one of the best in the league…but the ramifications of signing him with an offer sheet are just too ridiculous. Look at Kevin Lowe. He still gets ribbed I’m sure for his insane offers for Dustin Penner and Thomas Vanek.

The RFA offer sheet is a move of desperation and 100% of the time, the team making the offer is not the one dealing from a position of power as no matter what they do, they will lose something big. It’s putting a lot of eggs into a basket and then shipping them off for a single player you now have to pay almost twice as much as anyone else on the team…and no matter how you look at it, it isn’t a smart move either in the short or long term.

So just stop and think about the trades and deals you’re proposing. Ones like this just make us look silly.

…and no, we can’t trade Schneider for Weber either.

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