A Look Back At Crazy Offer Sheets in the NHL

As a New York Rangers fan, I am well aware of offer sheets.

On August 7th of, 1997, the Blueshirts signed the great Colorado Avalanche forward Joe Sakic to a contract offer sheet of $21 million over three seasons. At the time, the team was looking to replace Mark Messier since the “Messiah” went and signed a deal with the Vancouver Canucks, so signing Sakic to replace Mess as a first-line center seemed like an excellent idea.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Avs matched the offer a week later. The club then set its sights on Sergei Fedorov, which obviously did not work out either.

With the off-season coming up in over two months, let’s look at some memorable offer sheets that were given out over the years.

2012: Philadelphia Flyers sign defenseman Shea Weber to an offer sheet worth $10 million
In the 2012 off-season,  the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the hockey world by throwing a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet at Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber.

It never worked out, but the Broad Street Bullies were looking to upgrade their defense after they were absolutely horrible in the postseason. Sure, Ilya Bryzgalov’s play between the pipes certainly didn’t help, but it was clear that the team’s defense needed a stud on their blue line.

1990: St. Louis Blues sign defenseman Scott Stevens to an offer sheet
For Nashville Predators general manager David Poile, offer sheets were very familiar to him.

When Poile was the general manager of the Washington Capitals, Poile had to decide whether or not to keep defenseman Scott Stevens after the St. Louis Blues tendered a four-year, $5.1 million offer. At the time, Poile, and with good reason, wanted to keep Stevens but Capitals’ team owner, Abe Pollin, did not want to spend the money.

As such, Poile ended up letting Stevens go to the Blues and, in return, received five first-round picks from the Blues. One of the picks turned out to be defenseman Sergei Gonchar and another one of the picks turned out to be Brendan Witt.

1991: St. Louis Blues sign Brendan Shanahan
A year after they tendered an offer sheet to Stevens, the Blues handed out another offer sheet, this time to power forward Brendan Shanahan. Not only did the team once again get their man, but they also had to give up Stevens, the very same player they signed to an offer sheet the off-season before.

Since the Blues had already given up their next five first-rounders in the Stevens deal, both clubs had to work on a compensation deal. The Blues offered netminder Curtis Joseph and Rod Brind’Amour, who were both rookies at the time. The Devils, however, requested Stevens.

The arbitrator took the Devils’ side, and the Devils wound up getting a player who would lead them to three Stanley Cups and get inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

1994: Petr Nedved looks for more money with the Blues
After having a fairly impressive season with the Canucks in the 1992-93 season, forward Petr Nedved was looking to be shown the money by the Canucks.

The Canucks were unwilling to do so, and as such, the St. Louis Blues tendered a three-year, $12 million offer sheet to Nedved, who had been holding out, in March of 1994. The Canucks let him go to the Blues, but it would not be that simple.

In turn for allowing Nedved to go, the Canucks wanted Brendan Shanahan while the Blues were offering forward Craig Janney. The arbitrator sided with the Blues and allowed Nedved to play with the Blues, while at the trade deadline, the Canucks traded Janney back to the Blues for forward Nathan Lafayette and defencemen Jeff Brown and Bret Hedican.

1997: The confusing case of Chris Gratton
Like the Blues, it appears that the Flyers are very used to giving out offering sheets.

In the summer of 1997, the Flyers signed Tampa Bay Lightning forward Chris Gratton to an offer sheet. The one caveat in this was that the Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks were working on a trade that would send Gratton to the Blackhawks, and in turn, the Lighting would get Steve Dubinsky, defenceman Keith Carney, and either Eric Daze or Ethan Moreau.

At the time, Lightning GM Phil Esposito said that there was something wrong with the fax that should invalidate the offer sheet and allow the trade to be completed. Unfortunately for Esposito, the arbitrator sided with the Flyers, and the Lightning were awarded draft picks as compensation.

As it turned out, the Lightning would trade those picks back to the Flyers to acquire Mikael Renberg and defenceman Karl Dykhuis.

1998: The Hurricanes Go After Fedorov

It was known in the late 1990s that there was a feud between Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos and Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Illitch.

This feud was further increased when in 1998, the Hurricanes tendered a six-year, $38 million contract to Red Wings’ superstar Sergei Fedorov, who had been holding out. The offer sheet also included up to $28 million with bonuses in the first year.

The Red Wings matched the offer, and Fedorov returned to the club and led them to their second straight Stanley Cup.

2006: Flyers go after unproven superstar Ryan Kesler
It is one thing to hand out an offer sheet to well-known and proven stars in the league, but to hand out one to someone who has not done much of anything is quite perplexing.

With the Flyers losing Keith Primeau to retirement, GM Bobby Clarke was looking to add some depth to a team that already had the likes of Mike Knuble, Peter Forsberg, and Simon Gagne. For some odd reason, Clarke thought that guy at the time was unproven Canucks’ forward Ryan Kesler, who signed the tendered offer sheet of one-year, $1.9 million that the Flyers handed him.

Canucks’ GM Dave Nonis thought it was absolutely ludicrous but ended up matching the offer and keeping Kesler. In turn, the Flyers had one of their worst seasons in franchise history and missed the postseason for the first time since the 1993-94 season.

2007: The Oilers offer the world to Thomas Vanek
A year removed after losing in the Cup Final to the Hurricanes, the Edmonton Oilers were looking to re-energize and replenish their offense.

The Oilers thought that Buffalo Sabres’ goal-scorer Thomas Vanek was the answer. Oilers’ GM Kevin Lowe, who had already been told by Sabres’ general manager Darcy Regier that any offer sheet would be matchedtendered a seven-year, $50-million offer sheet to the Sabres’ sniper.

Regier stuck to his word and matched the offer the Oilers threw at Vanek.

2007: Oilers go after Dustin Penner
Clearly, Lowe was a busy man in the off-season of 2007, as the offer sheet to Thomas Vanek was not the only offer sheet he gave out at this time.

Lowe also went after Anaheim Ducks’ power forward Dustin Penner. The Oilers tendered a five-year, $21.25 million offer to Penner.

Ducks GM Brian Burke sounded off on Lowe, and in turn, Lowe sounded off at Burke. In the end, the Oilers ended up getting their man in Penner, and the Ducks were awarded the Oilers’ first, second, and third-round picks as compensation.  

2010: Blackhawks match Sharks’ offer sheet for Niklas Hjalmarsson
In the 2010 off-season, the San Jose Sharks were looking to upgrade their defensive corps.

As such, the team tendered a four-year, $14 million offer sheet to Chicago Blackhawks’ defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson. At the time, the Sharks were looking to take advantage of the Blackhawks’ salary cap problems (sound familiar?).

Blackhawks’ general manager Stan Bowman matched the offer. However, because of cap space issues, Bowman had to part ways with Cup-winning netminder Antti Niemi, who went to arbitration with the Blackhawks and was awarded a $2.75 million contract. Niemi ended up signing with, you guessed it, the Sharks.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

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Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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