The NHL hasn’t seen an offer sheet in some time, but with an unprecedented amount of talent on the restricted free agent market this season some have speculated might be time for it to happen again. Today that speculation has turned into reporting that some teams are reaching out to at least inquire about the possibility. Darren Dreger of TSN reports that Mitch Marner’s camp has received calls from multiple teams, while Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports on similar situations regarding Kyle Connor and Sebastian Aho. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes remain at the forefront of any negotiations with their young free agents, but even this kind of outside contact is irregular for the NHL offseason.
Today was the first day teams could contact restricted free agents, and while it has likely happened in the past the media chatter this year has been at another level. It is important to remember that the player has to agree to sign an offer sheet and his original team is then given a chance to match it. If they choose not to, that team receives compensation in the form of draft picks depending on the value of the signed deal.
The Maple Leafs and Jets especially are in tight financial situations given their proximity to the cap ceiling, and could be at risk of an offer sheet if a team were willing to go high enough with the salary. That said, giving up a number of future draft choices just for the opportunity to overpay a player does seem quite counter-productive in terms of building a competitive team. Still, the RFA group includes some incredible talent this year that may never be available again.