When noon hits on Wednesday, teams will officially be able to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets.
Well, some will. The Bruins probably won’t.
In order to sign a player to an offer sheet, a team must have the proper draft picks to surrender should the rights-holding team opt not to match. The picks must be that team’s natural picks and not selections acquired from other clubs.
So, while the Bruins have a pair of first-rounders next year (their own and the Sharks’) as well as the Islanders’ second-rounder, they do not have their own second-round pick. That selection was sent to Tampa in the Brett Connolly trade.
That means they would not be able to sign a player to a contract with an RFA compensation number in the following ranges:
– $1,826,3280-$3,652,659 (second round pick)
– $5,478,986-$7,305,316 (first, second and third-round picks)
– $7,305,316-$9,131,645 (two firsts, one second and one third-round pick)
Just a reminder: RFA compensation is not calculated like cap hits (total money before before 40 divided by years of contract before 40, not that the 40 thing is relevant to an RFA anyway), but rather by total money divided by years or five, whichever is smaller.
As such, the team could in theory offer a player a seven-year deal worth $6.63 million a year, which would bring that number to $9.28 million. In that case, the Bruins wouldn’t need to give up a second-rounder, but rather four first-round picks. Given the murky waters the Bruins appear set to navigate, gambling future first-round picks would not be a wise move.
In Tuesday’s pre-free-agency conference call, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was asked about the possibility of offer-sheeting a player.
‘Well, I think every club has that club in their bag, so to speak,’ Sweeney said. ‘If you’ve got the space to be able to do it, and certainly teams that are pushed up against it, you feel that pressure. So yeah, there’s not a general manager, I don’t think, that wouldn’t look at every opportunity to improve their club. An offer sheet is definitely a possibility from every angle, for every team.’
Unless the Bruins are planning on spending a whole lot (or very little), don’t expect them to use the tactic unless they can first re-acquire that pick from Tampa. Furthermore, it isn’t like the Bruins have a whole lot of money to spend. Including the estimated $969,000 in overages from last season and the $2.75 million retained in the Milan Lucic trade, the Bruins have $61,160,667 committed to 16 players for the 2015-16 season, not counting Marc Savard. The salary cap’s upper limit is $71.4 million.
The trade market remains Sweeney’s best shot at improving the team.