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3 RFAs the Pittsburgh Penguins Should Consider for Offer Sheets

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It has not been done in six years and never by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Per the NHL CBA, restricted free agents (RFA) are open to negotiating like their unrestricted counterparts, but the team which owns their rights has a chance to match a signed offer sheet or receive draft pick compensation. The last RFA who signed an offer sheet was Ryan O’Reilly way back in 2013. Back then, the Calgary Flames offered the young center a whopping $10 million over two years, but the Colorado Avalanche matched it. There has not been an RFA who signed an unmatched tender since Anaheim Ducks power forward Dustin Penner inked a five-year, $21.5 million deal with the Edmonton Oilers in 2007 and Anaheim GM Brian Burke ranted for several years.

Penner had not yet been injured eating pancakes, either (That’s no joke, btw).

Currently, there are more than a dozen 20-goal scorers who are RFAs this summer — players from Mitch Marner, Patrick Laine to Andre Burakovsky. The list is perhaps the most star-studded list, ever and there is growing talk someone and some team will finally break the near-collusive offer sheet drought.

The only Penguins RFA to ever received an offer was power forward Kevin Stevens who was tendered by his hometown Boston Bruins just a couple of months after the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup in 1991. The Penguins matched the five-year, just over $5 million offer for Stevens and won the 1992 Stanley Cup, too. Otherwise, the Penguins have not entered that fray in 28 years.

Should they dive in this season? It does make sense.

According to Cap Friendly, the Penguins are eligible to sign a player between $4.22 million and $6.34 million because they have the required original first and third round pick (acquired picks are inexplicably ineligible). Should the Penguins sign an RFA to a sheet in that range, they would not draft until the fourth round this year.

The Penguins may also sign a player to a deal over $10.5 million and forfeit their next four first round picks.

Marner or Laine would be significant gets, but those first round picks aren’t lottery protected and the Penguins may eventually find themselves in the lottery. So, I’ll dream along with you about watching Sidney Crosby dish to Laine or Marner flying around PPG Paints Arena ice, but that would be team-building maleficence.

With some trepidation, I also point out the Penguins cannot sign an RFA in the $6.34 million – $10.5 million range because they sent their 2020 second round pick to Vegas to ensure the selection of Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft. That was like paying a man in the desert to drink water.

And so the Penguins could shop for a B-level RFA and yield their first and third-round pick. Would it be worth it? Actually, yes there are several RFA’s who may fall into that range which could not only add to the Penguins but be superior to their expected take at pick 21.

RedBeard's Pittsburgh

The Penguins could use more scoring on their wings, especially the left side where currently only Jake Guentzel is a consistent offensive threat. However, if the Penguins deal Phil Kessel, they could be equally bare on the right side, too.

3. Timo Meier, LW SJ Sharks

Meier flies under the radar for those who don’t watch the 10 p.m. games. This season Meier poured in 30 goals and 34 assists. The 22-year-old Swiss product was the ninth overall pick in 2015 and this was his breakout season. He is fast, creative and just coming into his own. Meier’s next contract could exceed $5 million because he hit the 30-goal mark but it’s tough to see his far exceeding the $6 million threshold. If San Jose doesn’t go to the mat for him, a team should be willing to scoop him up at the top end of the mid-range scale.

The risk would be overpaying a speedy young player who has only posted one great season. But that’s also why Meir could be in the Penguins range and not in the $8 million – $10 million range, too.

2. Jakub Vrana, LW Washington Capitals

Wouldn’t this be interesting? Swiping the arch-rival Washington Capitals 2014 first-round pick (13th overall) and 24-goal scorer. Vrana had his breakout year with 24 markers this season but was also an untameable force in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs (which the Capitals won).

Vrana, 23, is fast, has remarkable hands and creativity and is just on the precipice of the rest of his career. He could be a steal for a team in this salary range. Worst case scenario, the Penguins could force the Washington Capitals to match a $5 million offer and spend more than they hoped to retain Vrana. Win-win?

1. Brock Boeser, RW Vancouver Canucks

Boeser and the Vancouver Canucks are not close to a contract. They’ve been talking but it hasn’t gone well. The 22-year old sniper has posted consecutive 20-goal seasons including 26 goals and 56 points this season. He has a wicked wrist shot with a quick release, good vision and hasn’t yet fully developed his defensive game. If the guy likes hot dogs, the Penguins fans will eat him up.

There is scuttle that Boeser wants north of $6 million but the Canucks are well below than that. Would Boeser be worth a first and third pick? Yes. And hell yes.

UPDATE: Boeser is NOT eligible for an offer sheet. We apologize for the CBA error.

Not on the list:

These players didn’t make the list because of several factors; risk-benefit analysis and their value doesn’t equal a first and third round selection.

William Karlsson — he should make more than $6.3 million, but his new team also has a chance to regret that contract given Karlsson’s history.

Travis Konecny — not worth a No. 1 and No. 3 pick.

Zach Werenski — though this name was tempting to include, is a 44-point defenseman worth a first and third?

Kasperi Kapanen — He will be a hot name but not worth the picks or nearly $5 million per season.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Alex

    June 6, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Werenski is definitely worth that the problem is he’s gonna get north of 6.5-7 mil probably. If the pens got Boeser and then shipped off Kessel for some picks that’d be a dream

    • Dan Kingerski

      June 6, 2019 at 2:46 pm

      I could be wrong. I don’t think Werenski gets 7+. Schultz popped for 50+ and got 5.5. That’s the area I see Werenski

      • Alex

        June 6, 2019 at 10:10 pm

        I read a article from a jackets blog and they thought he’d get 8 mil + after they completed him to guys like hanifin and ekblad and stuff I think that’s a lot but I could see the 7 mil area

  2. Pingback: 3 RFAs the Pittsburgh Penguins Should Consider for Offer Sheets - Pittsburgh Hockey Now - NHL Rumor Mill

  3. bartlett

    June 6, 2019 at 11:57 am

    You can’t sign RFA’s until after July 1st, and the draft is late June. So they would not be giving up the 21st pick this year, they would be giving up a 1st and 3rd next year, a draft which they already don’t have a 2nd as you mentioned.

  4. Matt Luda

    June 6, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    I’ll take a large order of Skinner with some Chaisson on the side, please. (Buh-bye 81 and 3.)

  5. Cal

    June 6, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Boeser or No sir………….

  6. K

    June 6, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Vrana great two way player with a to of speed and decent finish he would be way better than Brock imo
    How sweet to turn the tables on the caps since they picked up Hagelin

  7. Matt Luda

    June 6, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    The ‘Nucks will match any reasonable offer for Boeser. Seriously doubt that any team will overpay for a guy who’s hurt a lot.

  8. Keith Thomas

    June 7, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    I think it is fun to look at hypotheticals. But realistically, I doubt that the Pens are going to do any offer sheets on anyone. They have enough to worry about with unloading some players that need to be moved. I think there is going to be a significant level of upheaval in the league. Seems as if there is an inordinate number of teams positioning to move pieces.

    Some teams are being forced into moves due to cap space (Toronto, Knights, Lightening) then there are others that want to move pieces that address specific and real needs (Pens, Preds, Flames). The RFA issue is going to come into play for some teams as it wouldn’t shock me to see teams sign players just to force originating teams to clog up their cap space just to keep a player. It becomes a strategic plan to force teams into real undesirable situations. Seeing that – it might be interesting to see the Pens put up an offer sheet on Vrana just to make the Caps mgmt squirm.

  9. Tyler Hayes

    June 27, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Brock Boeser is not eligible for an offer sheet.

    • Dan Kingerski

      June 27, 2019 at 11:29 am

      You are correct. Every year, a CBA quirk gets us. We’ll take the L on that one.

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