Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lack of Offer Sheets

Before the official start of the NHL's silly season, there was a lot of talk about the crop of restricted free agents that were going to hit the market on July 1st. In the same breath, you heard a lot about the potential of some of these free agents to sign offer sheets, a la the Dustin Penner fiasco of 2007. Amazingly, there has been very little action on that front and that little bit of action had only involved two teams.

First off, David Backes signed an offer sheet from the Vancouver Canucks, which was quickly matched by the St. Louis Blues. Backes has a fair bit of talent as a gritty winger and that was the sort of mucker that would have fit in nicely with the Keslers and Burrows of the team. Backes has pretty good speed and put up some very good numbers in the process (13G, 18A in 72 games).

In response to that signing, the Blues shot back at the Canucks by signing newly-acquired forward Steve Bernier to an offer sheet days later. Bernier, acquired from the Sabres, signed a 1-year, $2.5 million offer sheet, which was also quickly matched by the Canucks. Bernier has some pretty good size and some good hands as well, which made him a highly-coveted player on the restricted free agent list.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much it on the offer sheet side of the table. The free agent class was hyped to be one of the better ones, but there was lots of movement before teams could get their hands on them and there was also some defensive moves made to keep teams away as well. All in all, there isn't likely to be many teams that want to give up plenty of top end draft picks for one player. Building from the ground up is starting to be more appreciated throughout the league, which has a lot of teams keeping their picks to grow and develop top young talent for the future.

Who would you sign to an offer sheet if you were in control of your favourite club? Antoine Vermette? Marek Svatos? Jay Bouwmeester? Valtteri Filpula? Ryane Clowe? There's lots of good options out there, but they won't come cheap!

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