Is this the year to target restricted free agents?

June 27, 2012, by

One very interesting aspect of free agency that almost never seems to come to fruition is the offer sheet to a restricted free agent. In fact, there have only been six players who signed offer sheets since the lockout, and only one –Dustin Penner– that wasn’t matched. Penner is the most famous of offer sheets, as Brian Burke went on a rampage that the Oilers did not properly warn him about signing Penner.

So, based on Burke’s argument, as long as a team gives fair warning, like Burke did with Phil Kessel, then it’s a-okay to target RFAs. This year, there are many names that qualify for restricted free agency, but the big names include the likes of Shea Weber, Evander Kane, Mike Green, Kris Versteeg, Erik Johnson, Mayson Raymond, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, and Dmitry Kulikov. There’s some solid talent to be had.

First things first, compensation for poaching an RFA is as follows:

  • $1,110,249 or below – No Compensation
  • Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 – 3rd round pick
  • Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 – 2nd round pick
  • Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 – 1st round pick, 3rd
  • Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 – 1st round pick, 2nd, 3rd
  • Over $6,728,781 To $8,410,976 – Two 1st Round picks, 2nd, 3rd
  • Over $8,410,976 – Four 1st Round picks

One thing to remember is that this compensation is based off of a maximum of five years on the contract. What this means is that if the Rangers were to offer Shea Weber a ten-year deal worth $50 million ($5 million a year), the compensation amount is based off of a five-year $50 million deal ($10 million a year).

The teams that have trouble signing their RFAs are the teams with limited cap flexibility, be it internal cap or league-mandated cap. Clearly Nashville falls into this category with Weber. Also the Blues fall into this category with an owner-mandated cap and both Oshie and Perron out on the RFA market. Winnipeg (Kane), Vancouver (Raymond), Florida (Versteeg, Kulikov), Washington (Green), and Colorado (Johnson) all have plenty of room to sign their RFAs.

So the three main players that might be targeted are Weber, Oshie, and Perron. The Rangers have over $21 million in cap space* and need for defensive and scoring depth.  Considering Perron is more of the Ryan Callahan type of player, that leaves Weber and Oshie.

*-I’m ignoring the summer cap space because that is essentially voided by Wade Redden.

The cost for Weber would be astronomical. Assuming it would cost roughly $7.5-$8 million annually to sign him, that would cost the Rangers two 1sts, a 2nd, and a 3rd for his services. Granted that isn’t really much to pay for Weber, but the cost is more in the cap hit than it is the draft picks. So for all intents and purposes, let’s eliminate Weber from this as well due to cost constraints.

That leaves Oshie, a 50 point player last season.  The 26 year old center also has relatively decent defensive metrics, so he’s not exactly a one dimensional player. Comparable contracts for him fall in the Brandon Dubinsky range of about $4 million a season. That cost is a 1st and a 3rd round pick for a player that is entering his prime and could provide some secondary scoring.

However the risk of poaching an RFA is that it may happen to you when you are in the same situation. Let’s remember that the Rangers have five key RFAs (Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer) coming up after next season. It’s definitely a risk, and when you narrow the RFAs down to the realistic possibilities, it may not be worth it.


  1. Sioux-per-man says:

    TJ Oshie already plays “Rangers” hockey. He would be one player I would to see a RANGER one day. St. Louis loves the kid, so I don’t see them dealing him for any price, but to pick him off RFA, it could happen…. but it wont.

    He would be a perfect fit for the Rangers. The fans at the Garden would love the way he hits. You should you tube the hit he put on Nash.

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      I agree….in all aspects of your post

    • Tim B says:

      Oshie Dubinsky swap?

      • Kevin says:

        Since Dubi comes in over $4 million, it’s unlikely that Oshie would be too much more expensive. And with Stl operating on an internal budget, taking on Dubi’s $ would be counterproductive.

  2. Blueshirt in Paris says:

    Like you said Weber would be the only one to consider but its not going to happen. The rest are not worth the collateral damage done by poaching a RFA.

    Better off trading for their rights for a team that might not have a place for them. Like Ganger.

    • Kevin says:

      If Gagner came oddly cheap for some reason, then fine. But I’m not sold on a guy that got white hot for 3 weeks and otherwise has done nothing in his career.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    Green and Kane

    Make the offer they are worth the picks.

    We never get top 10 picks and our system is stocked reasonably well.

  4. Do it. says:

    TJ Oshie…. Do It.

  5. Mickey says:

    I think Oshie would fit with the NYR, but they would be stupid to do it. STL is not afraid to retaliate, they have in the past and NYR has a greater chance to have cap issues.

    Also, I agree with not going with Perron right now, but not with your reasoning. Perron is more of a goal scorer who plays a little of the PK. If he did not have serious concussion issues the past couple years, he would also be a good option.

  6. cdub says:

    great post, and great explanation of RFAs overall. thanks for writing