**We would like to thank Matt - a former member of out Sabres sister site - for his guest post. It’s always fun to get an outsider’s perspective on the Colorado Avalanche and where they sit within the NHL
You don’t get very far into the conversation before someone reminds you that they are a very rare occurrence.
So let’s get that portion of the conversation out of the way...
I am well aware of the fact that there hasn’t been a signed offer sheet since 2013. This article is merely a thought exercise, something we can ponder now that the draft is over and the dust has settled in unrestricted free agency.
Now that the subject matter has been properly prefaced, let’s dive into my thoughts on a team using an offer sheet this summer.
I believe there are certain criteria that has to be met before an organization can consider poaching a restricted free agent. A GM must first make sure his house is in order, before he starts snooping through his peers’.
Although we would love to see Lou Lamoriello seek revenge because he lost the face of his franchise to his former employer, the Islanders don’t have the assets required to steal William Nylander away. But there is a team in the shadows that checks all the boxes and I believe they should seriously consider using an offer sheet lure away the young Swede.
The Colorado Avalanche.
First on the list of prerequisites needed before trying to sign away someone else’s restricted free agent is a healthy cap situation. The Avalanche currently sit 21st in terms of cap space used according to CapFriendly. More importantly, they have contract certainty with their biggest star, Nathan Mackinnon, whose current deal carries a cap hit of 6.3 million dollars for 5 more season.
To put that sweetheart deal into proper perspective, MacKinnon who was a Hart Trophy finalist this season, will eat up roughly half the cap space Connor McDavid takes up and Colorado will have this luxury for another 5 years.
Next in terms of house keeping, Joe Sakic will have to extend Mikko Rantanen. This part is critical, it has to be done prior to the offer sheet because the Avalanche will have to overpay to ensure their sheet isn’t matched by Toronto.
Statistically speaking Rantanen had a much better season than Nylander and Sakic can’t afford Rantanen’s representation to use Nylander’s bloated offer sheet cap figure as a bench mark for negotiations.
Personally, I hate the idea of bridging young players like Rantanen. He is clearly a foundation piece within the organization and should be treated as such. A deal that is 6 years with a cap hit of $7 million dollars should fit the bill.
Now that Colorado has taken care of their own, they can prepare an offer sheet for Nylander. James Mirtle wrote a piece on The Athletic about the cap consequences of the Tavares deal and how the Leafs can still keep their young core together. Mirtle tagged William Nylander with a cap hit of 6.5 million dollars, Sakic will have to submit an offer that applies enough pressure that it won’t be matched, but stays under the 4 first round pick compensation threshold.
The Avalanche offer should be five years with an average annual value of 9 million dollars. Yes, seeing that in writing is probably giving you pause, so let me tell you why it’s justifiable.
I don’t think the Leafs will match a deal that carries a 9 million dollar cap hit. Nylander and Marner are tethered together, if Dubas matches Colorado’s offer, he will have no leg to stand on when negotiating with Marner’s next summer.
In this scenario part of the Avs young core are locked into long term deals that are either fair market value (Rantanen) or severely under paid (MacKinnon). Nathan MacKinnon’s contract is really the key to all of this because on the open market he is probably a 10 million dollar player.
The compensation Toronto would receive would be 2 First Round Picks,1 Second Pick and 1 Third Round Pick. The Avalanche have been very methodical with their approach to the draft. They are a team that can afford to lose the compensation.
Lastly and I wanted this separate from the numbered points because it’s the kicker that makes it a no-brainer.
The Duchene trade.
Moving their own first round pick in 2019 becomes incredibly easy when they already own a better one thanks to the Ottawa Senators. Add to that the fact that this team should be very good a year later and that 2020 first round pick is very likely to be in the bottom-third of the first round.
William Nylander is an extremely young player that has point-per-game potential and fills one of the biggest holes on the Avalanche. There aren’t may players that you should give up that many picks for, but he is one of them.
Now unfortunately what you have just read won’t happen and that’s a bummer to all hockey fans, but most of all it’s maddening to think of the possibility that the Avalanche have at their disposal, that won’t be considered due to a gentleman’s agreement between the General Managers.