In the National Hockey League, an offer sheet is a contract offered to a restricted free agent by a team other than the one for which he played during the prior season. If the player signs the offer sheet, his current team has seven days to match the contract offer and keep the player or else he goes to the team that gave the offer sheet, with compensation going to his first team.

The National Basketball Association uses the term offer sheet to refer to an offer made by another team to a restricted free agent who has received a qualifying offer from his current team.

Time period Edit

Restricted NHL free agents can discuss new contracts with other teams beginning on the day after that season's draft. Discussions must stop if a player accepts a contract from his own team or is confirmed to go into arbitration with his team, be it player- or team-filed.

Compensation Edit

When a player accepts an offer sheet and his team declines to match the value of the contract, his former team is entitled to draft pick compensation in the next upcoming draft or drafts based on the averaged yearly salary of the contract. These values were originally set for the 2005 offseason to coincide with the new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, with percentage increases annually equal to the same percentage increase in the average salaries of all NHL players. The 2005 and 2009 offseason values are as follows:

2005 Averaged Salary Current Averaged Salary[1] Draft Pick Compensation
$660,000 and below $994,433 and below No compensation
$660,001 to $1,000,000 $994,434 to $1,506,716 Third-round pick
$1,000,001 to $2,000,000 $1,506,717 to $3,013,434 Second-round pick
$2,000,001 to $3,000,000 $3,013,435 to $4,520,150 First- and third-round pick
$3,000,001 to $4,000,000 $4,520,151 to $6,026,867 First-, second-, and third-round pick
$4,000,001 to $5,000,000 $6,026,868 to $7,533,584 Two first-round picks and a second- and third-round pick
$5,000,001 and above $7,533,585 and above Four first-round picks

A team may not have two different players sign offer sheets at the same time if the value of the offered contracts would involve any of the same draft picks as compensation. For example, if a restricted free agent accepts a contract with a yearly salary of at least $7,533,585, the team can only offer to other restricted free agents contracts less than $3,013,434 per year, since those would not require any first round pick as compensation. In addition, if a team does not have a pick in the next upcoming draft available for compensation, they may not make a contract offer in the certain range where that pick is needed for compensation. Teams may not use draft picks acquired in trades with other teams, but extra acquired draft picks can influence a team's decision to submit an offer sheet.[2]

Effect of the salary cap Edit

Prior to the 2004–05 NHL lockout, teams could spend as much or as little as they wanted, therefore most offer sheets were matched. This caused offers to restricted free agents to be rare to avoid ill will amongst general managers.[3] Currently, under the rules of the 2005 NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams have a salary cap ceiling and floor, so teams must spend money more wisely. This means it is more likely that general managers will offer a contract to a younger player with potential that their team does not see as much value in matching, rather saving money for other players.[4] This also leads to teams signing their own players to long-term contracts before they are eligible for restricted free agency, possibly locking them in at a lower rate than they will have to pay later, depending on each player's future performance.[5][2][6]

Potentially due to the salary cap holding steady for the 2009–10 NHL season and the potential for a drop before 2010–11, there have not been any offer sheets signed during the 2009 offseason after only five players signed offer sheets in the three years since the new CBA. The risk invested in real and cap dollars along with the negative reaction to an offer sheet has led to the act of signing an offer sheet becoming extinct under the current CBA.[7]

Footnotes Edit

  1. 2009 Official Free Agent List. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2009-07-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Russo, Michael. "Wild Insider: The offer sheet shuffle", Star Tribune, 2007-10-29. Retrieved on 2007-11-13. 
  3. Coffey, Phil. "Flyers make move on Kesler",, 2006-09-13. Retrieved on 2007-11-13. 
  4. Brehm, Mike. "Ducks irked as Penner lands big deal with Oilers", USA Today, 2007-08-02. Retrieved on 2007-11-13. 
  5. Burnside, Scott. "Lowe's offer sheet tactic could soon become the norm",, 2007-08-13. Retrieved on 2007-11-13. 
  6. Allen, Kevin. "Time for teams to lock up players, prevent raids", USA Today, 2007-10-11. Retrieved on 2007-11-13. 
  7. Wyshynski, Greg. "Is the restricted free-agent offer sheet becoming extinct?", Yahoo! Sports, 2009-07-26. Retrieved on 2009-08-28. 

References Edit

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