McKenzie on offer sheets: ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’

Offer sheets remain a rarity in the NHL, and hockey’s No. 1 Insider remains skeptical that general managers’ hesitancy on that front will change anytime soon.

There seems to be a growing sentiment that this summer, given the crop of talented restricted free agents on the horizon, we could potentially see an offer sheet or two crop up with teams facing a cap crunch.

“You know what? It could be, but I’m also a little bit of ‘seeing is believing,’” indicated Bob McKenzie during a Monday afternoon Leafs Lunch segment on Toronto’s TSN 1050. “I’ll believe it when I see it because there have been so little of that in the past. And maybe this is the year where there’s such a selection of really good restricted free agents coming out of entry level on teams that are hard-pressed because of other star players on the team. This is the optimal time.

“But I mean honestly, I kind of gave up on offer sheets last year - this past summer - when Mark Stone didn’t get offer-sheeted. Because you could have given a one-year offer sheet on Mark Stone and the Ottawa Senators would not - if they matched it - they would not have been able to trade him this year. They would have had to let him walk to free agency. And a one-year offer sheet would have done that because you’re not allowed to trade a player within a year of matching the offer sheet.

“So that would have been a tailor-made situation. And my understanding was that there were teams that thought long and hard about doing that to the Ottawa Senators and getting Mark Stone on a one-year deal, but they didn’t do it.

“And I thought, ‘Well, there’s a situation where the team virtually is certainly not going to match,’ because I don’t think the Ottawa Senators could have afforded to match the offer sheet and know that they have to let him walk because they can’t move him at the deadline if they can’t extend him.

“So I think a team, if they had given an offer sheet to Mark Stone in the offseason, they would have got him for sure. And they didn’t do it, and that’s the end game here, isn’t it - with an offer sheet - is that you’re going to get the player. It’s all well and good to say, ‘Yeah, well, we tried real hard,’ as Philadelphia did with Shea Weber and others. But if you don’t get the player, it doesn’t do anything except screw up some other team and make you a target of another team in the future.”

Stone and the Senators avoided arbitration with a one-year, $7.35 million contract that was agreed upon in early August.

The two sides can’t formally sign an extension until January 1 or later.

Stone will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly