Should the Rangers offer sheet Leon Draisaitl?

Jeff Gorton (Getty)

What do Geoff Courtnall, Scott Stevens, Brendan Shanahan, Adam Graves, Petr Nedved, Sergei Federov, and Dustin Penner have in common? They each signed an offer sheet while they were a Restricted Free Agent in the NHL.

Worthy Talent

Every year fans of teams speculate as to what it would take to sign another team’s restricted free agent to an offer sheet only to be disappointed and I can all but guarantee you that after reading this post here within a few days you too will be disappointed. This scenario has about as good of a chance of happening as Pierre McGuire growing a mullet.

The Edmonton Oilers recently signed star Center and team Captain Connor McDavid, possibly the best player in the game, to an 8 year $106 million deal with an AAV of $13.5 million. That’s roughly 18% of the teams salary cap but as time goes on and the NHL raises the cap, that contract won’t seem so bad in the backend of the deal. In 2012, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sidney Crosby to a 12 year, $104.4 million dollar deal, roughly averaging out to $8.7 million at the time but also representing around 15% of the Penguins salary cap. The following season, Pittsburgh signed Evgeni Malkin to an 8 year, $76 million dollar deal set to begin in the 2014-15 season that carried an AAV of $9.5 million, representing 13% of the Penguins cap at that time, both contracts seemingly worked out for the Penguins organization in the long run as the cap continued to rise.

Now comes Edmonton Oilers Center Leon Draisaitl, the teams 21 year old 6’1 215lb speedy, smart and scoring 2nd Center who they drafted 3rd overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Draisaitl has been a big part of the Oilers success lately having scored 29G-48A-77pts in his sophomore season with the Oilers over an 82 game span which followed up his rookie season where he came in at 19-32-51 in 72 GP. Draisatl also was one of the top scorers in the postseason this year posting 6G,10A,16pts in 13 playoff games for the Edmonton Oilers, outpacing McDavid’s 5-4-9 in the playoffs.

After the $13.5m that the Oilers dedicated to McDavid, the focus is now on locking up Draisaitl for the long term. Reports have Draisaitl seeking in the range of $9.2m over 8 years. A similar comparison to Draisaitl is St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko who recently signed an 8 year, $60 million deal for an AAV of $7.5m coming off a 37 goal, 73 point season in the season he turned 24 years old. Draisaitl is 3 years younger and a center, not to mention that the cap has risen since then, so $9 million is fair value for a player of Draisaitl’s caliber.

While McDavid’s deal was an extension that will start in the 2018-19 season as he has another year left on his ELC, Driasatl is set to become a Restricted Free Agent July 1, 2017. While the Oilers currently have $16 million in cap space available for next season, as well as 22/23 roster players under contract, the big issue comes in 2018-19 when the team begins to pay Connor McDavid his massive $13.5 million. What if the cap doesn’t rise? Even though Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has stated that he will match any offer sheet tendered to Draisatl, it won’t stop teams from kicking the tires and there does come a certain price at which Chiarelli may look at the 4 1st round picks his team would receive in exchange for Draisaitl signing an offer sheet and hopping a plane to another city as a pretty good deal.

That’s the supply, now here comes the demand. The New York Rangers recently traded away 1st line center Derek Stepan and while both Alain Vigneault and Jeff Gorton view Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes as suitable 1A/1B Centers, let’s not kid ourselves here. In a Metropolitan Division with centers such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and John Tavares and top end talent like Alexander Ovechkin and Artemi Panarin, the New York Rangers need to stop kidding themselves that Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist as well as depth are a suitable answer to those anymore. Not to mention the New Jersey Devils recently drafting Center Nico Hirschier and Philadelphia drafting Nolan Patrick as well as having Claude Giroux.

At a certain point, all the depth in the world is great and rolling 4 lines with a fast up-tempo pace and an all-world goalie sounds good on paper but ultimately isn’t enough. Looking back on the past five cup champions (Pittsburgh, LA and Chicago), each of those teams were led up the middle. Even if he becomes a true number one center, Mika Zibanejed is not in the same league as the previously mentioned all-world players and Rick Nash isn’t the player he used to be. That leads me to Nash, who’s $7.8m the Rangers will see come off the books after 2017-18. That leaves the New York Rangers with a need that they can’t fill via trade or in Free Agency.

CAP SPACE GALORE

The New York Rangers currently have $15.6 million in cap space after re-upping Brendan Smith at $4.35 million. If Kevin Klein is to retire which most reports say, that will give them another $2.9 million in cap space leaving them with $18.5 million in 2017-18. The Rangers needs after signing Brendan Smith to shore up their blue line heading into Free Agency is to address the void left by Derek Stepan up the middle and possibly add top 6 talent as well as maybe adding another Defenseman and a back-up goalie. They will also be responsible for re-signing Zibanejed as well as Jesper Fast who are both also Restricted Free Agents. You can see Zibanejad come in at around $5 million and Jesper Fast will cost roughly $1.5m, add in a backup goalie at around $1 million and you’re left with $11 million in cap space.

The defense at the moment, consists of Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith, Brady Skjei, Anthony DeAngelo, Nick Holden and Marc Staal. The top six forward talent consists of Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes and JT Miller along with youngsters Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey, Jesper Fast and Matt Puempel to battle for 3rd line minutes and a group of Michael Grabner, Lias Andersson, Nicklas Jensen to round out the 4th line along with any low cost signing Jeff Gorton can come up with. The Rangers are seemingly re-stocked as far as defensemen are concerned in the pipeline as seen in the Prospect Development Camp with youngsters like Sean Day, Ryan Graves, Neal Poink, Alexei Bereglazov and Sergey Zborovisky so the contract of Holden ($1.9m) is seemingly expendable. Not to mention the ultimate “In Case Of Emergency Button” of moving Marc Staal’s contract if necessary. Not to mention the further cap relief the Rangers will experience after Nash’s money comes off the books, the Rangers are sitting pretty as far as cap flexibility thanks to Jeff Gorton’s recent moves.

 

In comes Draisaitl… Will Peter Chiarelli balk and walk away at potentially having a team of just McDavid and Draisatl for years to come and having to eventually trade away the entire supporting cast? Look what the Penguins went through after loading up so top heavy on Crosby and Malkin and also the Chicago Blackhawks after inking Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to mega-deals. The rumored going rate for Draisaitl is $9 million as of now, which Chiarelli will look to talk down, but what if the New York Rangers satisfied their need for a top line Center and went out and offer sheeted Draisatl for a cool $11 million…… Let that sink in for a moment… $11,000,000 for a 21 year old Center who scored essentially 30-50-80 last season and will only get better…. Now let this sink in, offer him 7 years of that (the max the Rangers can offer). Is it tough to stomach in year one? They’ll have to make a few sacrifices, but the ability to roll 4 strong lines and two above average Defensive pairings will still be there… the difference being they’ll be rolling 4 lines that includes a bonafide top line Center.

Simple question…. When have the Rangers had talent like this?

Who plays like this?

Who can score in the playoffs like this?

Oh yeah… and how good did he look with Mats Zuccarello on his wing in the World Cup?

LET. THIS. SINK. IN….

At the age of 21, Leon Draisatl was fifth in the NHL among all centers in points. Ahead of Auston Mathews, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Getzlaf, Evgeni Malkin and even John Tavares. The Rangers have not had a Center of that caliber since Mark Messier…. and Draisaitl is 21 years old. His numbers will only increase through the entire length of that contract. If successful, the New York Rangers will have a top five first line center inked for the next 7 years leading into his prime, not past his prime. Not to mention that even after the 2017-18 season, the Rangers RFA’s include JT Miller, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey who’s cumulative cap hit after that will all but be covered by Nash’s money coming off the books as well as another window to buyout Marc Staal and not to even factor in another rise in the salary cap, so the numbers are not insane in any realm of possibility.

The Rangers have the space and the surrounding talent to make this move. They have the need for a top line center that is not available in this years UFA class and won’t be available in next year’s unless John Tavares goes AWOL on the Islanders. Even then would you rather a 22 year old Draisaitl who’s going to put up the same if not more points than Tavares or a 28 year old John Tavares? I’d go with the 22 year old.

This is an aggressive move…. let me repeat, this is not a rumored move. I do not know of any thinking in the Rangers front office of this move. But $11,000,000 is enough to send Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers back to the draft board in order to build around McDavid and $11,000,000 is the going rate in today’s NHL for a top line Center that performs well in the playoffs, plays fast and physical, and can match up against the ever growing load of talent building up in the Metropolitan Division.

So simply think about it… Is it really insane?

Oh yeah, Pierre McGuire said on Leafs Lunch that “teams will offer sheet Draisaitl if McDavid signs for $13.5 million.”

Guess what?

McDavid signed for $13.5 million.

 

Offer Sheet Gone Bad

Now lastly… the offer sheet doesn’t always work out especially in the Rangers case. Back in 1997 then Rangers GM Neil Smith presented Colorado Avalanche Captain Joe Sakic with an offer sheet for three years and $21 million on the heals of Mark Messier leaving for Vancouver.

Colorado had seven days to match the offer and if they didn’t the Rangers would’ve surrendered five first round picks. All in all this was arrogance on the Rangers behalf, as the reason for the Rangers picking to go after Joe Sakic had to do with Colorado’s weak financial standing (remember there was no salary cap back then) Avs CEO said in the Daily News “They were under the belief that we weren’t going to be able to pull it off.

The miscalculated our vigilance and wherewithal” While the Leon Draisaitl scenario is different as the Rangers wouldn’t be taking advantage of the Oiler’s financial situation, Edmonton like all other NHL teams have a cap floor and ceiling and a level playing field. The Avalanche re-signed Joe Sakic, matching the offer and then sent a fax to Rangers GM Neil Smith and president Dave Checketts of Nelson Rockefeller flipping the bird. How’s that for backfiring?

18 comments

  • Send the sheet, $11.5M/ 7 years. WTF! If they dont accept then its 4 first rnd picks which as you can see from the last 2 first rnd picks they have no business having them any way! To have a center like this in his early prime would be HUGE! Go ahead Jeff, pull the trigger!

    • I don’t understand your comment Iou, the Rangers made two great picks this year in the first round..

      • Sorry Chris, but he Rangers made 2 very safe picks and left huge talent on the table. Both picks were at best late 2nd and 3rd draftees who could have still bene there. If thats what they were looking for then trade out of the first round and accumulate more picks. They could have made a big splash with Rassmussen or Vilardi which were both projected in the top 5. Why they fell is still anyones guess but there they were and we chose another Yesper Fast/ Oscar Lindberg player. Not complaining about either of those NHL players but they’re at best 3rd & 4th line players. We made a big move trading Stepan & Raanta and were granted a top 7 pick and chose bottom six talent. Sorry but to me they are not Great picks. Now theres change to make a bigger splash and send an offer sheet to Leon Draisaital who is a top end 1st line center. Would be the best center since the Messiah himself put on #11 !!!

        • Lou, you said the magic words ……. safe picks. Can anyone tell me the last top player who was a safe pick?

  • um, yea, let’s do it, why not. they don’t have a clue drafting anyway.

  • A 21 year old first line center that has already proved himself in the league sounds like a no brainer. This would be equal to getting a number one pick in the draft.

  • This would be a terrible move for the Rangers, while its great in theory, a 21 one year old scoring center for 4 first round picks. What happens next season when Skjei, Vesey, Miller, Hayes are all RFA’s and unsigned on July 1, or the following with Buchnevich. You end up matching the first one like Chicago did with Hjarmlsson (spelling may be wrong) only to face a second one from the same team (San Jose in this case) for the piece they really wanted (bad player evaluation) in Neimi. Offer sheets in general are a great idea on paper but usually have to overpay (fair deal team matches) for the player as well as burn bridges. Paul Holmgrem came out and said that other GMs didnt want to do business with him after he offer sheeted Weber.

    • Matching like Chicago did? Sorry but how many Cups have they won while dealing with cap issues?

    • You are aware the cap will go up next year right? And nash will be off the books so thats pretty much hayes vesey and miller right there covered by nashs cap hit so yea we can resign them no problem did you even read the article??? Or just comment??? Cause theres a big section that they specifically say what i just said

  • I would love if the Rangers were able to sign Draisaitl away from the Oilers, the 4 picks in my opinion would be worth it. However there are side affects to even sending offer sheets that could hinder any tea, for years to come. Since the NHL changed the compensation there hasn’t been many offer sheets doled out by GM’s. There is an air of collusion or to a lesser extent a gentlemen’s agreement not to go after players on teams especially with cap problems. Steven Stamkos would have been a player every other team in the league would have jumped on to try and pry away from Tampa, but the games premiere goal scorer at the time was never even sent an offer.

    The 4 1st round draft picks is a huge price to pay. But let’s be honest, the Rangers drafting record has been spotty at best and at times rivals the New York Jets with incompetence. Yes they have hit on Kreider, Skjei and Miller recently but have made major blunders that have crippled their prospect cupboard as well. They have a mentality to hit singles rather then go for extra bass hits and I for one am tired of the “he’s a nice player” description usually attached to their selections. Name the last top player who had “he’s a nice player” in their scouting report. They have always taken the more defensive player over a projected top flight sniper or scorer as well, but who needs goals.

    Here is the selections the Rangers made when they had a top 10 pick over the years.

    2010 10th Dylan McIlrath

    * Another draft where the Rangers reached pretty far to make their selection
    Cam Fowler 12th Vladimir Tarasenko 16th Evgeny Kuznetsov 26th Charlie Coyle 28th were still available and ranked much higher than McIlrath

    2004 6th Al Montoya
    19th Lauri Kopikoski

    * Corey Schneider and Travis Zajac were picked after them in the 1st Round

    1999 4th Pavel Brendl
    9th Jamie Lundmark

    * This is the one that stings the most because Neil Smith made the moves to have the Rangers pick twice in the top 10 and actually went after elite players.

    1998 7th Manny Malhotra

    * Rangers rushed him and never tried to develop him at all.

    1993. 8th Niklas Sundstrom

    * Adam Deadmarsh, Jason Allison and Saku Koivu all selected later in the 1st

    1987 10th Jay Moore

    * Joe Sakic drafted 5 spots later

    1986 9th. Brian Leetch

    * Finally the Rangers select a dynamic player

    1982 7th Ulf Dahlen

    * should get credit because he did play nearly 1,000 NHL games and was traded for Mike Gartner

    1981 9th James Patrick

    * a nice player who was moved for in a 3 way deal to get Steve Larmer. But passed on one of the most prolific offensive dmen in the history of the game with a shot that intimidated goalies, Al MacInnis

    1977 8th Lucien Dublios

    * The Holy Grail of mistakes, also had the 13th pick who they selected Ron DuGuay but passed on not once but twice on a player who was one dimensional in their eyes….. a player who killed the dreams of Ranger fans for a decade and was one of the best snipers in the game, a skinny kid named Michael Dean Bossy. But like I said before, who needs goals?

    So yeah, 4 1st round picks which would be later in the round in theory for Leon Draisaitl doesn’t faze me one bit. Possibly losing a JT Miller down the round in retaliation for signing an offer sheet for Draisaitl also doesn’t faze me one bit. Losing a player with 1 playoff goal in 40+ playoff games and played his way down to the 4th line, won’t lose a bit of sleep over it. The Rangers tried unsuccessfully to get Joe Sakic which would have changed Rangers fortunes and history, let’s try again for a player who is young enough and has all world talent. Deal with the fallout later and let’s truly start rebuilding this franchise sorry history.

    • Mike,

      My point isnt about draft picks, as I an someone who always is for trading draft picks for proven NHL. The thing about picks is they are a crap shoot. Remember teams wanted to “Fail for Nail”. Toews was 3rd overall behind Eric Johnson and Jordan Staal (thats right Pitt could have had Toews after drafting Sid/Malkin). Sure Kreider was a good pick, Miller is solid but Raskell for the ducks would have been better. Skjei fell to us, I believe 11 dmen were taken before him with the only ones Id want over him are Trouba, Lindholm maybe Morgan Reilly/Olli Maata (injuries stunted some development). Pitt had 2 picks in the Skjei draft took 2 dmen before him Pouliott was first, then Maata. I could go on all day how MTL picked Mac before PK.

      My 3 main points are, one you must over pay the player for the team to not match, which is what the flyers tried to do with Weber. The potential of becoming open game to other GMs with your own RFAs. Most importantly the blackballing from other GMs that even though you didnt offer sheet their guy they still dont want to do business with you.

      Id be more on board for trading 4 first round picks for some of the young talented centers. Might not even need all 4, if a roster player was added.

  • Its time for this organization to take the next step and build this team to win. They have the cap space today to send an offer sheet to Edmonton. Its very possible Edmonton matches and that will strap them on all their other talent that will soon come time to sign. Its part of the business. And who gives a shit what other GM’s say! If their teams aren’t winning they wont have jobs for very long anyway. Teams will always need to trade. If we have to loose a Miller or Hayes or even Vesey in the next few years so be it but to land a player of Draisaital’s caliber is something that will last a decade and possibly bring a cup closer for many opportunities which all of you know doesnt happen often. It took Sid 7 years to get back to a final after they went back to back appearances. Now they have back to back wins. Ill trade the 4 first round picks any day to have 3 cups in 8 years and I know you all will too. Send the offer sheet and make it above market. $11.5M/ for 7 years! DO IT!

  • McDavid signed for $100M 8yrs = 12.5M/yr. Not 13.5/yr as this article incorrectly states. How to have confidence in numbers this author suggests if such a clear error has been made by the author?

    • Please note time stamp of article is before the official deal was released.

    • The article was written almost a full week before McDavid signed….. a contract that big he wasn’t to far off.

      • Oh ok – my mistake in a way, but if it was just rumoured at the time, and now I see articles near the date of this article indicating different numbers, none of them stating the deal was signed or final, why publish such an incorrect statement by saying McDavid had actually signed and the deal was done when it wasn’t?

        Wording is important when you’re speaking privately, and can be even more important publicly to help ensure clear knowledge and communication.

  • NO! And there’s like zero chance of it happening anyways. Offer sheets are really nothing more than fan fantasies and media musings.

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