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Could Penguins Steal RFAs via Offer Sheet? 3 Players to Watch

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Pittsburgh Penguins RFA discussion. Philip Broberg, Edmonton Oilers

It’s rarely done, and it is angrily frowned upon within the NHL general manager’s little fraternity. In 2007, the Edmonton Oilers swiped restricted free agent and burgeoning power forward Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks with an offer sheet. Then Anaheim GM Brian Burke was so enraged that he ripped Edmonton and essentially challenged his Oilers counterpart to a fight. It was 14 more years before another team broke the bro code with an RFA offer sheet that the rights-holding team couldn’t match, and even that had more petulant drama than a daytime soap opera.

It hasn’t happened since, either.

If Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas is serious about a youth movement, he needs to consider using that taboo method to acquire young talent. On the RFA landscape, he has a couple of opportunities to gamble away a third-round draft choice for players in their early 20s with bigger talent but lagging results.

In full caution, signing an RFA isn’t free. In addition to the public barking and posturing as if the drifter at the pool table just stole your girlfriend, it costs draft picks, too.

The Penguins are qualified for three tiers of RFA offer sheet compensation: the first tier (under $1.51 million) requires no compensation. The second tier (between $1.51 million and $2.29 million) costs a third-round pick if successful, and the fourth tier (between $4.58 million and $6.87 million) costs a first and third-round pick.

Also note that the surrendered picks must be the team’s original selection. For example, teams can’t acquire multiple third-rounders and use them on multiple offers or acquire a pick just to use it on an offer; it must be the original pick granted to them by order of their season finish.

According to salary cap calculations, the Penguins would have about $4.3 million in salary cap space if they sacrificed one of the bargain-basement signings (Puckpedia.com lists them at about $3.5 million in cap space). More if they sacrificed a veteran on the NHL trade block.

There are three, perhaps even four, players to watch whom a rival GM could steal.

Potential RFAs to Offer Sheet

Seth Jarvis

A pipe dream.

The 22-year-old Carolina Hurricanes right-wing had a breakout year in his third NHL season. He scored 33 goals and 67 points. He would fit the Penguins stated effort to get young and immediately add talent worthy of the Penguins’ top six.

AFP Analytics projects a short-term deal at $6.5 million for two years, so Dubas could overpay just a little bit and re-sign him to a whopper next July.

The downside is Carolina has a lot of cap space remaining ($11 million) and could probably match any offer the Penguins make. The other downside is the Penguins might have a lottery pick next June, so would they sacrifice that possibility for Jarvis?

Analysis: The Penguins are unlikely to get a player as good as Jarvis in the first round, especially if he were to improve the 2024-25 lineup. However, Carolina’s available salary cap space probably makes this a non-starter.

Odds: 1/1000.

Cole Perfetti

The 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft, he’s got loads of offensive talent, but the rest of his game still needs a bit of work. He’s a small offensive firecracker but hasn’t yet had a 20-goal season. He had a small breakout last season, potting 19 goals with 38 points, but the Winnipeg Jets are in a precarious position. After a few seasons of high expectations and humbling playoff exits, everyone is under scrutiny.

Watching former coach Paul Maurice lift the Stanley Cup in Florida just one year after resigning his post with Winnipeg was just another little knife twist that didn’t go unnoticed.

It might be a little bit of a stretch to sign Perfetti to only $2.29 million after his 19-goal campaign, but if he and Winnipeg feel it’s time for a change, a wise team might jump in before Winnipeg can shop him. The projections put Perfetti in the $2.5 to $3 million range, and Winnipeg can afford to match it.

If they want.

The maximum the Penguins could offer is $2.29 million, but perhaps the threat of an offer sheet combined with a trade offer could help a team close a deal. And perhaps the chance to play with one of the Penguins’ top two centers is the music Perfetti has been waiting to hear. We like the idea and we like the player, but it’s definitely outside the box.

Odds: 1/50

Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway

The two that are truly attainable.

The easiest to snag and the best fit for the Penguins’ long-term outlook. The Edmonton Oilers are out of cap space and project to be millions over if they sign their RFAs. While the NHL trade rumors percolate about Evander Kane or Cody Ceci, perhaps Dubas–out of the goodness of his heart, of course–could help Edmonton.

Broberg, 23, played just 12 regular season games last season and failed to establish himself in the NHL until the playoffs, when he was a stalwart on the shaky Edmonton blue line. The 2019 eighth-overall pick is big (6 foot-3, 200 pounds) but has played only 81 games over the last three seasons.

The playoff performance was his hockey cotillion. He’s ripe for a slight overpayment, perhaps around $1.8 million, to close the deal. He’s also a perfect fit for the Penguins’ current situation.

Next summer, the left side of the Penguins’ blue line will be empty, except for Ryan Graves. In Broberg, a team could find a bargain: a young, improving defenseman who saw what it takes to get to the Stanley Cup Final and acquitted himself well. He’s shown to be a good skater and a reliable defender with nice puck-moving skills.

It should be very tempting as the Penguins, or any team, are unlikely to use their third-round pick to get a player as good or ready as soon as Broberg.

Another potential RFA steal is in Edmonton, too. Dylan Holloway, 22, has bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL since turning pro out of Wisconsin in 2021-22. He’s a Ryan Poehling type–a late-blooming versatile player who skates very well and has more potential than his stats show. If a team were to cast him in an offensive role, the 6-foot-1, 206-pound Holloway has some ability to be a power forward. Or he can be a shutdown center.

Last season, he played in 38 NHL games with nine points (6-3-9).

This might be the real chance for theft as he probably doesn’t warrant more than $1.5 million, which means a team would not owe the Oilers compensation for the 22-year-old forward, who is still putting it together.

If Anthony Beauvillier is worth a $1.25 million gamble, surely Holloway and/or Broberg are worth similar rolls of the dice in order to further the drive to fulfill Dubas’ goal to get “younger and hungrier.”

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Jm80
Jm80
12 days ago

Hi Dan, what do you think about Nick Robertson from Toronto. I can’t imagine he’d cost too much, especially considering Toronto’s cap situation.

Jm80
Jm80
12 days ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

I meant as an offer sheet candidate. I believe he is an RFA and did not elect arbitration.

Bachinga
Bachinga
11 days ago
Reply to  Jm80

He’s very fragile…

Eri
Eri
12 days ago

I’m surprised EDM did not buy-out Kane. Ceci would be the more easily traded of the two. (Also will the Perry Curse continue?) It may be frowned upon but Dubas should take a shot a Broberg with an offer sheet. Would solidify LD, and if Graves is dealt in a potential Laine deal (+ another roster player like Acciari, Eller, Rakell) would put the Pens in a better spot to be competitive this year and long-term with some younger players on the roster. Overall this offseason strategy of experience down the middle and youth on the wings, is better than… Read more »

Rich81
Rich81
12 days ago

With minimal costs at risk, offer sheet both players from Edm.

DMR
DMR
12 days ago

Every year the hockey media writes about all the offer sheet possibilities and every year almost none happen. The GM Club sure doesn’t want its members ruffling each others feathers and potentially causing animosity…smh.

Matthew Caddy
Matthew Caddy
12 days ago

Go for Broberg and Holloway both. Getting both for a 3rd round pick would be a steal and help the team get younger and faster.

Deppert
Deppert
12 days ago

Hard to be sure with Holland out of the mix now, but I think there’s no chance for RFA signings from Edmonton. What I got from Oilers media coverage, mostly the EST guys, is that they consider both Broberg and Holloway to future core pieces; they have just been content to let them develop slowly. For perspective, Holland was willing to trade Bouchard as they had Broberg in place to replace him. I think if someone gave them big RFA bombs, they would match and just make it work.

Last edited 12 days ago by Deppert
Ujn Hunter
Ujn Hunter
12 days ago
Reply to  Deppert

Which is fine. Costs nothing, and makes the Erlers have to ship people out to stay compliant.

Matthew Caddy
Matthew Caddy
12 days ago
Reply to  Deppert

Then make the offers and let EDM match it to keep them. Every team is aware of this process and knows how it works. The smart ones do the best they can to avoid it. If the Pens don’t, someone else probably will.

Jstripsky
Jstripsky
12 days ago

I’m not opposed to any of these provided Dubas moves out some veterans. The number of available roster spots is already low and this would make it worse. I’d hate to see a young player stuck at the AHL level because there are too many veterans to squeeze them in.

William Maloni
William Maloni
12 days ago

I love your thinking and analysis. Yay on you!
(Make sure Dubas, et al, get a copy of the column.)

Ujn Hunter
Ujn Hunter
12 days ago

Do it, Dubas!

JoJo
JoJo
11 days ago

will they? no
should they? no

Bachinga
Bachinga
11 days ago

Jarvis will be signing in Carolina…just a matter of length…Canes want 5 Jarvis 3…