Though still rare, we have started to see the offer sheet used a little more often. In 2019, the Montreal Canadiens signed Sebastian Aho to a five-year deal, which was quickly matched by the Carolina Hurricanes to keep their star. That meant turning down a substantial package of picks, and locking Aho into a deal that was certainly not very team-friendly. In response, the Hurricanes signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year deal worth more than $6.1MM last summer, something the Canadiens just couldn’t match. They received first- and third-round picks in exchange, while the Hurricanes recently signed Kotkaniemi to a long-term deal that drops his cap hit considerably.
Offer sheet compensation is based on the average salary of the league, and as CapFriendly reports, this year’s thresholds have increased a little more than two percent. Below is the full breakdown, with the contract’s average annual value placing it in one of seven tiers:
|$1,386,490 or less||No compensation|
|$1,386,491 to $2,100,472||Third-round pick|
|$2,100,473 to $4,201,488||Second-round pick|
|$4,201,489 to $6,302,230||First and third-round picks|
|$6,302,231 to $8,402,975||First, second and third-round picks|
|$8,402,976 to $10,503,720||Two firsts, a second and third-round picks|
|Over $10,503,721||Four first-round picks|
It is important to note that any team trying to sign a player to an applicable offer sheet must use their own draft picks for compensation, not ones that have been acquired. That rules several teams out already from signing high-profile RFAs unless they were to work to reacquire their picks before submitting the contract. An offer sheet’s average annual value is also calculated slightly differently than a normal contract; if the contract is of a length greater than five years, the total salary is still divided by five to determine the AAV. That would mean a seven-year contract worth $8MM per season would actually carry an AAV of $11.2MM for purposes of offer sheet compensation.
There are some restricted free agents, like Montreal’s Alexander Romanov, that have not accumulated enough time in the NHL to be eligible for an offer sheet. For more information about the details of offer sheets, check out CapFriendly’s FAQ.
Aho’s deal is pretty fair.