Don’t Hold Your Breath for Habs’ Offer Sheet

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The Canadiens’ season ending rather prematurely certainly has fans and media talking, and with good reasons. The team’s lack of offensive threat has been a problem since the second half of the season and ultimately, cost the team a chance to face the Senators in the division finals and perhaps even to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals.

No one knows that better than better than team GM Marc Bergevin who, in his press conference, acknowledged that his team needs a boost in that department, particularly at the centre position. After all, while Tomas Plekanec was starting to show signs of slowing down, it was difficult to predict that he would be completely MIA on offense and who in their right mind would have predicted that Alex Galchenyuk would hit rock bottom a year after scoring 30 goals?

Fans and media alike are looking at ways that the Habs can improve their offense rather rapidly, based on what’s available out there on the market and they are quick to point out that both Jonathan Drouin and Leon Draisaitl are Restricted Free Agents (RFA) with compensation and could be eligible to offer sheets. While those players are exceptional young talents, many like yours truly question if the offer sheet is even an option.

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Jonathan Drouin is a pending RFA

While legal according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Offer Sheets are seldom used by NHL General Managers and while no one will come out publicly and admit it, the tool is heavily frowned upon by GMs around the league as it is perceived as putting their homologues in dicy situations in a salary cap world, where cheap talent is key to having a competitive team. The fact is that most GMs don’t want to use it, whether is by principle alone, or by fear of retribution by their colleagues in the future.

But instead of going with suppositions, why don’t we look at all of the offer sheets signed since the introduction of the salary cap after the 2005 season. Here’s a chart to help have a clearer picture:

NAME DATE OFFER OWNER SIGNED RESULT
Ryan Kesler Sept 12/06 1 year $1.9M VAN PHI Matched
Thomas Vanek July 6/07 7 years $50M BUF EDM Matched
Dustin Penner July 26/07 5 years $21.5M ANA EDM Accepted
David Backes July 1/08 3 years $7.5M STL VAN Matched
Steve Bernier July 8/08 1 year $2.5M VAN STL Matched
Niklas Hjalmarsson July 9/10 4 years $14M CHI SJS Matched
Shea Weber July 18/12 14 years $110M NAS PHI Matched
Ryan O’Reilly February 28/13 2 years $10M COL CGY Matched

As you notice, only eight players have signed offer sheets as a RFA and all but one was matched by the team. Only Brian Burke‘s Anaheim Ducks backed out and took, instead, the compensation which was the Oilers 1st (12th), 2nd (43rd) and 3rd (73rd) round picks in the 2008 draft.

Everyone else matched the original offer, which is quite telling. If a team is going to brave the rest of the league by signing a player to an offer sheet, they will usually sign players who can have, in their opinion, an impact in the NHL. More interesting though is what happened (or not) to those so-called gutsy GMs who dared to break the unwritten rule.

  1. The first GM out of the gate after the salary cap CBA was Bobby Clarke, who signed Kesler back in September 2006.  He was replaced by Paul Holmgren the following month, on October 22, 2006.
  2. Kevin Lowe is the GM who signed both Vanek and Penner in 2007. He lasted a year before being replaced by Steve Tambellini on July 31, 2008.
  3. Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis was just hired on April 23, 2008 prior to signing Backes to an offer sheet the next summer. St-Louis Blues GM at the time, Larry Pleau, gave him a taste of his own medicine when a week later, he signed Bernier, who was just acquired in a trade four days earlier by Gillis, to an offer sheet of his own. Gillis completed several minor deals after, but had to wait to 2013 before being able to complete a substantial trade, acquiring the 9th pick overall (Bo Horvat) from the Devils for Cory Schneider.
  4. Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks is definitely the exception to the rule. He has completed several trades, including some important ones, after signing Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet in 2010. Wilson has even completed three trades with the Blackhawks since that time!
  5. Faced with the loss of Chris Pronger to injury, Paul Holmgren and the Flyers were in desperation mode and signed Shea Weber to the richest offer sheet in NHL history, hoping that the Predators couldn’t match… but they did. In the two following years at the helm of the team, Holmgren has completed a dozen trades, but none of impact. In the book released for the Flyers’ 50 anniversary, he admitted being unable to find people to trade with because of it. He had to step down and give way to Ron Hextall for that reason.
  6. Brian Burke, then interim GM for the Flames and who was quite verbal against Kevin Lowe’s offer sheet to Dustin Penner six years earlier while GM with the Ducks, signed Ryan O’Reilly to an offer sheet of his own in what is perhaps the most hypocritical offer sheet signing ever. Colorado matched and Burke went back into is President’s role making ways to Brad Treliving just a few months later.

So Habs’ fans and media, unless you want Marc Bergevin out, which clearly some of you do, what do you really think the odds are of him signing one of Drouin or Draisaitl to an offer sheet? Do you honestly think for a minute, based on facts and history, that it would be for the best of the team, of the organization? Oh don’t get me wrong here, if Drouin is available as rumours around the NHL seem to suggest, Bergevin will be all in to get him, but it will be, in my humble opinion at least, through the traditional way of trade. As for Draisaitl, don’t lose too much sleep over that folks, he will be re-signed in Edmonton.

Habs’ Expansion Protection List 2017

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The 2016-2017 regular season is over for the Montreal Canadiens, who have won the Atlantic Division title with a total of 103 points. While they are awaiting the start of their first round series against the New York Rangers, let’s have a look at the next hot topic in the NHL beyond the playoffs: the expansion draft. 

Here is a new, up to date players’ list for the Montreal Canadiens, in anticipation of the 2017 expansion draft for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. While there are a couple of different lists going around, it is not certain that they are accurate, based on the rules set by the NHL, which are:

The following rules were approved for the 2017 Expansion Draft: 

Protected Lists
* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft: 

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

Player Exposure Requirements
* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:

i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.

Regulations Relating to Expansion Franchise
* The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).

* The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.

* The Las Vegas franchise may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

The 30 NHL Clubs must submit their Protection List by 5:00 P.M. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Las Vegas team must submit their Expansion Draft Selections by 5:00 P.M. ET on June 20 and the announcement of their selections will be released on made on June 21. 

2017 NHL Draft Lottery

The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.

The Las Vegas franchise’s First Round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will be determined in accordance with the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery and, as a result, the Las Vegas franchise will be guaranteed no lower than the sixth overall selection.

The Las Vegas franchise then will select third in each subsequent round of the 2017 NHL Draft (subject to trades and other potential player transactions).

Source: NHL.com

According to the rules mentioned above, set by the National Hockey League, here is a list of the players whose rights belong to the Montreal Canadiens as of today. It is important to note that while I have listed the pending Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) to the players needing protection, only those who are signed to an extension prior to the expansion draft would need to be protected.

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So the Habs will likely choose to protect one goalie, three defensemen and seven forwards. Here are the decisions that management will be faced with after the playoffs are over…

GOALTENDERS: Carey Price will be protected, Al Montoya left exposed.

DEFENSEMEN: Jeff Petry must be protected due to his NMC. In all likelihood, Shea Weber will also be protected which means that the team will only be able to protect one of the following players: Nathan Beaulieu, Jordie Benn or Alexei Emelin. It is pretty fair to assume that Emelin will be left without protection, which will leave an interesting decision between Benn and Beaulieu.

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Photo: Getty Images

FORWARDS: Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Andrew Shaw and Alex Galchenyuk will all be protected, for a total of six players. They can still protect one more. They will then have to decide between Tomas Plekanec ($6 million cap hit for one more season), Charles Hudon, Daniel Carr or Jacob De la Rose.

As for pending UFA’s, while the league probably prevents teams to do so, it would be hard to keep them (and to prove) from having verbal agreements with players that they will be signed after the expansion draft. For example, Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov could have deals in place with the team, but they would only be signed once the expansion draft is over.

It is also important to note that teams cannot lose more than one player to expansion, which is really not that big of a deal. In my opinion, the biggest decision that Marc Bergevin and his team will have to make will be on defense. But before we spend too much time thinking about this, let’s enjoy what, hopefully, will be a long playoffs’ run by “Nos Canadiens”. Go Habs Go!

Because I had linked the players to their existing contract status on CapFriendly.com and on HabsProspects.com, I am posting the original table so you can click on the player’s name to see their status for yourself. I preferred the picture for display, as I just couldn’t adjust the format on WordPress, likely due to my limited knowledge.

Montreal Canadiens protection list – Expansion draft 2017
STATUS →

EXEMPT

NEED PROTECTION

2017-18 CONTRACT →

Unsigned

RFA

Signed

UFA

RFA

Signed

NMC

               
GOALTENDERS Hawkey, Hayden Lindgren, Charlie Fucale, Zachary Montoya, Al
  McNiven, Michael Price, Carey
 
 
DEFENSEMEN Henrikson, Arvid Hanley, Joel Bourque, Simon Markov, Andrei Beaulieu, Nathan Benn, Jordie Petry, Jeff
  Koberstein, Nikolas Johnston, Ryan Juulsen, Noah Lowe, Keegan Davidson, Brandon
  Mete, Victor Lernout, Brett Nesterov, Nikita Emelin, Alexei
  Nygren, Magnus Parisi, Tom Thrower, Dalton Redmond, Zach
  Staum, Casey Sergachev, Mikhail Weber, Shea
  Sullivan, Colin
 
 
FORWARDS Bitten, Will MacMillan, Mark Addison, Jeremiah Farnham, Bobby Carr, Daniel Byron, Paul
  Bradley, Matt Audette, Daniel Flynn, Brian Crisp, Connor Danault, Phillip
  Evans, Jake Eisenschmid, Markus King, Dwight De La Rose, Jacob Gallagher, Brendan
  Nättinen, Joonas Grégoire, Jeremy Martinsen, Andreas Friberg, Max Mitchell, Torrey
  Pezzetta, Michael Lehkonen, Artturi Ott, Steve Galchenyuk, Alex Pacioretty, Max
  Vejdemo, Lukas McCarron, Michael Radulov, Alexander Hudon, Charles Plekanec, Tomas
  Reway, Martin Matteau, Stefan Shaw, Andrew
  Scherbak, Nikita Terry, Chris