FAN-FARE -The Art of The Offer Sheet

handshakeBY: Adam Gavriel

Keeping a close eye on the Stamkos deal in Tampa? No? Well, start researching.

Reports constantly coming out of Tampa Bay are saying that the Stamkos and Lightning parties are decently far apart in what it’s going to take to lock up the star 21-year old center.

The Lightning first overall pick in 2008 has recorded nearly a point per game in his young NHL career at 232 points in 243 games (0.95/game). At the age of 20, Stamkos won the Rocket Richard trophy for most goals scored in an NHL season with 51. He showed no signs of slowing down this past season as he recorded 91 points in a full 82 game season with 45 goals.

Stamkos’ entry level deal from 2008 has officially run out.

If Tampa Bay can’t sign him by July 1st then Stamkos will be open to offer sheets from the rest of the league. Normally an RFA goes to the offer-sheet period and will rarely be discussed as it seems to be a trade not performed by many NHL GMs, however a player like Stamkos is hard to not even sniff at if you’re at the helm of an NHL organization.

Stamkos’ cap hit, including bonuses, was $3.725 million the past three seasons in Tampa Bay and he’s likely seeking, and very deservedly has earned, a handsome raise on top of that number.

Ball-parking it, it’s a safe bet that Stamkos could be seeing a cap hit of over $7 million per year.

Since the lockout only six players have been approached by offer sheets, five of them were matched by the team in order to maintain the rights they had on the player. The only offer sheet that was accepted was Dustin Penner when the Oilers poached him from the Anaheim Ducks, the same off-season they attempted to grab Thomas Vanek out of the Sabres.

You have to think Glen Sather is keeping a close eye on the Stamkos saga. If the Rangers fail at bringing in Brad Richards, or Richards proves too costly to the Rangers Slats has to be thinking of throwing everything he’s got at Stamkos.

Suppose (if the Rangers lose Richards on July 1) Sather offers Stamkos an eight-year, $64million contract. If accepted by the Lightning and the Rangers sign Stamkos to this deal, the next four first round picks that the Rangers own will be compensated to the Lightning. The cap hit on this deal would be $8 million per, and that exceeds the highest cap hit designed by the CBA in the compensation department of an RFA. With this thinking, those four first round draft picks will probably be low to high 20’s picks, which can all be obtained somewhat easily via trade. Also consider that the Rangers have a stockpile of youth in the system and some of their best prospects have come in the later rounds of drafts.

The only hesitation would be what happens to Stamkos when he leaves the safe haven of Lecavalier and St. Louis? Does he still put up the numbers he’s putting up? Could he hack it in a John Tortorealla system? Well, better questions to ask in this scenario would probably be what happens to St. Louis and Lecavalier when Stamkos leaves? And would John Tortorella be able to adjust his game to fit his newest and best player?

The offer sheet is a dark practice in the NHL, but it happens.

Many believe that the Lightning will sign Stamkos before July 1st (this Friday) and more believe that no matter what is thrown at Stamkos the Lightning will have to match it. This could be a good opportunity for division rivals to handcuff the Lightning.

If it comes down to giving Brad Richards a ridiculous eight-year $64million contract, or trying to grab Stamkos to that same deal, put me on the Stamkos train and let’s ride it straight into the playoffs for the next eight years.

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