Throughout the years, the trend of offer sheeting and restricted free agents (RFA) has drastically decreased. The last successful offer sheet occurred in 2007 with Dustin Penner signing to the Oilers from the Ducks. However today, it is an unwritten rule that a general manager offersheets a player for many reasons. So this brings up the question, why aren’t there many RFA offer sheets and will we be seeing any soon?
Offersheeting a player means going behind another general manager’s back to sign one of their players. By doing this, a general manager could ruin their relationship with the other general managers. It is an unwritten rule that general managers won’t take advantage of the situation and offersheet a player. Even though it may just be part of the game, this could impact future decisions for general managers. A general manager wouldn’t want to trade a player to the same general manager that took one of their players. By offersheeting an RFA, a general manager could ruin their reputation with other general managers which is why offer sheets are slowly going away.
Giving up draft picks
The value of draft picks have gone up significantly within recent years as giving up draft picks is extremely risky and has backfired on some teams. For example, the San Jose Sharks traded a package of prospects and picks, including an unprotected first round pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Erik Karlsson. This trade heavily backfired for the Sharks as that first round pick ended up being third overall which the Ottawa Senators used to select franchise winger Tim Stutzle. Even though this hasn’t occurred yet for an offer sheet, general managers are now very cautious of giving away unprotected draft picks.
Trading for rights
Instead of offersheeting a player which can see be a big mistake, trading for the players’ rights is an alternative and better way to acquire an RFA. Often, trading for an RFA is easier as the value of the player decreases and general managers don’t’ have to give up picks. This would also not ruin a general manager’s reputation with other general managers. Some examples of unsigned RFAs that had their rights traded this offseason include Max Domi, Josh Anderson and Devon Toews.