Top 10 Significant NHL offer sheets

Last week, the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the hockey world by throwing a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet at Nashville Predators’ defenceman Shea Weber.

As it turns out, given the history of the league and offer sheets, this kind of offer should not come as such a surprise to anyone. Nowadays, NHL general managers are more aggressive in going after top end players because if they are not, they could be out of a job.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 examples of offer sheets being given out in the league and what the outcome ended up being.

1990: St. Louis Blues sign defenceman Scott Stevens to an offer sheet

For Nashville Predators’ general manager David Poile, offer sheets are something very familiar to him.

Back when Poile was the general manager of the Washington Capitals, Poile had to decide whether or not to keep defenceman 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 defenceman Sergei Gonchar and another one of the picks turned out to be Brendan Witt.

1991: St. Louis Blues sign Brendan Shanahan

It appears that just one player into this offer sheet piece, the St. Louis Blues are turning out to be an aggressive organization when it comes to giving them out to high-end players.

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

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 New Jersey 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 Vancouver Canucks in 1992-93, forward Petr Nedved was looking to be shown the money by the Canucks.

The Canucks were not willing to do so and as such, the 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 St. Louis Blues, it appears that the Philadelphia 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 cavet 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 general manager 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.

1997: Rangers look to replace the loss of Mark Messier with Joe Sakic

When New York Rangers’ general manager Neil Smith failed to sign team captain Mark Messier and lost him to the Canucks in the off-season of 1997, Smith knew he needed a quick fix.

At the time, Smith thought the quick fix would be a three-year, $21 million offer sheet to Colorado Avalanche forward and superstar and Joe Sakic. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, the quick fix never came.

The Avalanche ended up matching the Rangers’ tendered offer and they had to settle with signing Pat LaFontaine and a seven-year playoff drought.

1998: The Hurricanes go after Sergei Federov

It was known back in the late 1990’s 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 Federov, 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 Federov 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 NHL but to hand out one to someone who has not done much of anything is quite perplexing.

With the Philadelphia Flyers’ losing Keith Primeau to retirement, general manager 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 Vancouver Canucks’ forward Ryan Kesler, who signed the tendered offer sheet of one-year, $1.9 million that the Flyers handed him.

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

2007: The Oilers offer the world to Thomas Vanek

A year removed from losing in the Stanley Cup Final to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Edmonton Oilers were looking to re-energize and replenish their offence.

The Oilers thought that Buffalo Sabres’ goal-scorer Thomas Vanek was the answer. Oilers’ general manager Kevin Lowe, who had already been told by Sabres’ general manager Darcy Regier that any offer sheet would be matched, tendered 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

Edmonton Oilers’ general manager Kevin Lowe was a busy man in the off-season of 2007 as the offer sheet to Thomas Vanek was not the only one given out.

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

Then Anaheim Ducks’ general manager Brian Burke sounded off on the Oilers’ general manager 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 off-season of 2010, 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.

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 San Jose Sharks.

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