The NHL's annual free-agent signing period begins at noon ET on July 13. While unrestricted free agents can sign with any team, a restricted free agent can only change clubs if he is traded, doesn't receive a qualifying offer (thus making him an unrestricted free agent) or signs an offer sheet from a rival team.
The player informs his current team once he's signed an offer sheet, giving it seven days to match it. If the club doesn't match it, he is free to join his new team, while his former squad receives a predetermined number of draft picks as compensation.
On May 18, the NHL released its annual average value scale for offer sheets in 2022. Per Sportsnet, the compensation is as follows:
General managers rarely employ the offer-sheet tactics because they're often matched. Since the salary-cap era began in 2005, only two players have been successfully signed away. Dustin Penner inked a deal with the Edmonton Oilers in 2007, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes last September.
Nevertheless, it's possible that at least one of this summer's restricted free agents, such as New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko, will sign one. Here's a look at Kakko and four other potential candidates teams should sign to offer sheets this offseason, including what it could cost to get a deal done.
Did you agree with our list? Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments section below.
- $1,386,490 or below: No compensation.
- Over $1,386,490 to $2,100,742: Third-round pick.
- Over $2,100,742 to $4,201,488: Second-round pick.
- Over $4,201,488 to $6,302,230: First-round pick and third-round pick.
- Over $6,302,230 to $8,402,975: First-round pick, second-round pick, third-round pick.
- Over $8,402,975 to $10,503,720: Two first-round picks, a second-round pick and a third-round pick.
- Over $10,503,720: Four first-round picks.
Noah Dobson, New York Islanders
After two seasons of adjusting to the NHL, Noah Dobson enjoyed a breakout performance in 2021-22. The 22-year-old defenseman finished third among New York Islanders scorers with 51 points in 80 games, leading them in time on ice per game (21:28) and blocked shots (154).
Dobson is completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could use that to his advantage, forcing the young blueliner to accept a two- or three-year contract worth between $2 million and $3 million per season.
That would leave Dobson with little leverage unless he refuses to report to training camp or signs an offer sheet worth around $5 million per year. With $12 million in salary-cap space and 18 players under contract, the Isles can afford to match. However, it wouldn't leave much to bolster an offense whose 2.79 goals-per-game average tied for 22nd in 2021-22.
Rival general managers could be wary of signing Dobson to an offer sheet. In November 2020, The Athletic's Eric Duhatschek indicated Lamoriello "commands a healthy level of respect—and fear—from his peer group." Still, there's always a first time for everything. Perhaps one of them will feel emboldened enough to take the chance.