With more and more rumors surfacing that many teams may consider handing out offer sheets this summer when a number of intriguing game-changing restricted free agents will be out there, one team that might have to worry more than anyone will be the salary-strapped Tampa Bay Lightning. The team will have quite a few cap issues this offseason, including a number of unrestricted defensive free agents in Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn and Dan Girardi as well as multiple restricted free agents, including star center Brayden Point.
The fear is that a team might take advantage of Tampa Bay’s situation and make Point an offer that the Lightning would have trouble matching as they will be forced to make significant adjustments for the next several years with all the big-name players they have. However, The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) interviewed general manager Julien BriseBois about many topics, but the GM believes that offer sheets aren’t being utilized amongst NHL teams for a reason.
“I’m really not concerned at all about offer sheets,” BriseBois said. “I don’t see it happening. The way it’s set up, there’s no point in making an offer sheet unless you think you’re going to get the player. And teams match. You’re not going to let go of the good young players that are going to be good for your team for many years to come. So I don’t see it.”
BriseBois also pointed out that negotiations with Point will not begin until after the season and even if a team was able to get Point to sign an offer sheet, he believes that the team would have the time needed to move around pieces to retain Point.
- Mark Zwolinski of The Star writes that Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said that there is no rush when it comes to getting back goaltender Frederik Andersen, who is out with a groin injury. Andersen, who has played more minutes than any goaltender in the league so far in the past two years, is expected to work out with goaltending coach Steve Briere on Tuesday and could be cleared for practice on Wednesday, but whether he plays on Thursday afternoon or Saturday isn’t important to the coach. “Let’s make it clear, there’s no plan,” Babcock said.
- Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports writes that Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy seems unlikely to play in Tuesday’s Winter Classic after not practicing Monday. If McAvoy misses Tuesday’s game, that will be the 23rd game that he has missed this season, which is starting to look like a pattern as he also missed 19 games in his rookie campaign last season. Haggerty suggests that if he continues to show an inability to stay on the ice, that could affect the big contract that many people expect McAvoy will get this offseason when he hits restricted free agency. He’s been compared to Drew Doughty, but Doughty has never missed more than six games in a season and has played a full 82-game schedule five times in his career.
- MLive’s Ansar Khan writes that the Detroit Red Wings are close to getting back veteran Darren Helm and he could be back as early as Wednesday. The forward has been out since Nov. 17 with a shoulder injury. The 31-year-old has just one goal this season in 20 games after a 13-goal season a year ago.