Friday, July 8, 2011

A brief history of NHL offer sheets

"Hmm, in New York I'd probably live in an
apartment, which means no snowblowers..."
With much of the frenzy around unrestricted free agency dying down, attention has turned to the handful of big name restricted free agents. With players like Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty finding themselves in a position to negotiate a deal with the highest bidder, fans are waiting to see if a team would dare attempt to sign one of the young stars to an offer sheet.

Partly due to an apparent unwritten code among general managers and partly due to economic realities, it's rare to see a player actually sign an offer sheet. But it does happen, and NHL history is filled with examples of star players putting their current teams in a difficult spot thanks to a better offer from another team.

Here's a look at some of the most famous offer sheet attempts in NHL history.

July 26, 2007 – The Oilers sign Dustin Penner to an offer sheet that would cost them their upcoming first round pick as compensation, in a move Ducks' general manager Brian Burke condemns as “gutless” and “desperation” as he's frantically stuffing Penner's possessions into the nearest suitcase.

July 16, 1990 – Scott Stevens agrees to sign an offer sheet with the St. Louis Blues, on the condition that everyone agree that hits to a defenceless opponent's head that cause serious brain injuries will remain totally cool until after he retires.

August 6, 1997 – The New York Rangers nearly succeed in acquiring superstar Joe Sakic with a heavily front-loaded offer in what everyone agrees is a transparent attempt to exploit a loophole that the NHL will no doubt be taking care of immediately.

September 25, 1991 – The Pittsburgh Penguins keep Kevin Stevens by matching a multi-million dollar offer sheet from the Boston Bruins, then immediately begin developing Matt Cooke in an underground laboratory for their eventual revenge.

August 14, 1996 – After Ron Tugnutt signs with the Senators, Ottawa general manager Pierre Gauthier describes the journeyman backstop as “probably the best goaltender this young franchise has ever had, although obviously fifteen years from now he won't even be in the top ten”.

September 12, 2006 – Canucks' forward Ryan Kesler signs an offer sheet with Philadelphia in a move the Flyers later said they felt compelled to make since, somehow, Kesler was already lurking in the background of all of their team photos and marketing materials.

February 18, 1998 – Detroit matches a front-loaded Carolina offer sheet to Sergei Fedorov that sees him go on to make $28 million in the first year of the contract, a record for the most money spent by the Red Wings on a single player that stands until years later when the franchise must hire a team of fulltime international translators to try to figure out what language Dominik Hasek is speaking.

March 8, 2011 – Montreal Canadiens fans submit an offer sheet to Zdeno Chara, although technically the "sheet" is a spray painted car windshield and the "offer" is probably not even anatomically possible.

July 25, 1991 – A resolution between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins over Dave Tomlinson's offer sheet is delayed when both teams admit they don't have the slightest idea which one of them he currently plays for.

August 13, 1988 – The Rangers learn that their offer sheet to Edmonton forward Geoff Courtnall has been unsuccessful, at which point they decide they'll only bother going after 20 or 30 more former Oilers in the next few years and that's it.

July 29, 1992 - Winnipeg matches a Calgary offer sheet to Teemu Selanne, a process the Jets rookie enjoys so much that he apparently resolves to a free agent every single season for the remainder of his career.

September 19, 2009 – The Maple Leafs scoff at the Bruins' outrageously one-sided trade demands and simply sign Phil Kessel to an offer sheet instead, according to smiling Toronto fans mumbling contentedly in their sleep right now.

August 20, 1997 - Tampa Bay chooses not to match Philadelphia's offer to Chris Gratton in a decision that proves that when push comes to shove the Lightning will roll over and let the Flyers just steal their first line center with an offer sheet, according to Paul Homlgren as he cackles ominously in a darkened room right now.


  1. The Chara and Hasek ones made me chuckle.

  2. The Caps signed Scott Stevens to an offer sheet? Don't you mean the Blues?

  3. That was great. I had no idea about some of those offer sheets.

  4. Where was the ludricous Vanek offer sheet, If The Sabres walked away and let the oilers have him, they would've gotten at least 4 first round draft picks, that eventually became Eberle, Paajarvi, Hall, and Nugent-Hopkins. Granted Oilers might have won a few more games with Vanek.

  5. Stevens signed the offer sheet with the Blues, dude. Caps took the first rounders. Years later both sides would admit they regretted it.

  6. Why is it that after all these years the mention of Ron Tugnutt still gives me a little twinge of pain.

    No, really....

  7. Hmm, I wonder if Flyers fans ever sent an offer sheet to the aforementioned Scott Stevens back in the day, considering that Habs fans sent them to Chara.

  8. funny stuff, new york is liking your writing

  9. It's Hasek, he's likely just speaking a language only spoken by chosen ones and highlanders.