It is no secret that Ranger fans are divided on Brad Richards, and for good reason. The Blueshirts track record with big ticket free agents isn’t exactly stellar. In fact, the only “big ticket” free agents that I can remember being successful were Michael Nylander and Martin Straka. Of course, I use the phrase “big ticket” loosely there. Fans are also divided on Ruslan Fedotenko, and if he should be brought back. The reasoning there is that people are afraid he might “take a spot” from the kids.
But the one thing all fans agree on is that there is a legitimate fear in losing one or more of the pending RFAs to an offer sheet. This is the year of the salary cap floor, and teams might be willing to overpay on some RFAs to not only reach the floor, but secure themselves a solid piece for the future. The biggest worry is that one team locks up both Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan to offer sheets, which would be a huge blow to the Rangers.
While I do believe that those two are susceptible to offer sheets, the price of the offer sheet and corresponding compensation. Landing Dubinsky and/or Callahan will cost a minimum of $4 million, and two draft picks (1st/3rd). However, it is unlikely that Dubi or Cally would sign such a deal in an offer sheet, so let’s go the over-payment route, and assume it would cost a team at a minimum of $4.5-$4.7 million to lock up one or the other. Once the $4.7 million threshold is crossed, it costs a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick. That’s a steep price, and is likely to be a deterrent for many teams.
Personally, I think Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, and Mike Sauer are the three most likely to get offer sheets. All three are coming off affordable contracts with seasons ranging from good with potential (Anisimov) to great (Sauer) to career-best (Boyle). Realistically, these guys will get a minimum of a 100% increase on their salaries. Realistically, of course, was before these outlandish contracts starting coming up because of the increasing cap floor.
Is it really out of the realm of possibility for a team to land Boyle on a $3 million per year deal? It’s actually very possible. You see, $3 million is just out of range for the Rangers to afford, but is just under the next level in compensation ($3.1 million). The Rangers would only land themselves a 2nd round pick for any RFA signing under $3.1 million (and over $1.56 million). This is a legitimate concern for not only Boyle but Anisimov (likely due roughly $1.85 million) and Sauer (likely due $1.25 million).
There is also the possibility of a team landing one of Dubi/Cally and one of Sauer/Anisimov/Boyle. The rules of compensation state that you must have the draft picks in the coming draft year, so landing a RFA that would cost 1st/3rd round picks ($3.2 million – $4.6 million) and a RFA that would cost a 2nd round pick (Anisimov/Boyle/Sauer) is a legitimate threat.
Offer sheets are generally rare in today’s game, but this is a unique year as teams struggle to hit the cap floor. The Rangers find themselves in the not-so-enviable position of having five key players that have hit restricted free agency. Brad Richards may be a priority for the Rangers, but one wonders how they will deal with the possibility of an offer sheet on one of their core players.