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An Analytical Look at this Summer’s RFA’s

Since the 2004 lockout the NHL has only seen eight offer sheets signed over the last twenty years and of them only one of them wasn’t matched. However, this year talk of offer sheets has ramped up because of the high number of quality RFA’s (Marner, Rantanen, Point) and teams starting to realize that some of the lower value offer sheets can yield huge value.

Offer Sheet Analysis

below is a picture from capfriendly about the levels of offer sheets and how much compensation is due for each level.

Considering most RFA’s are in their early 20s it’s easy to understand how getting a player approaching his prime at 3M could easily be worth a second round pick especially if you expect to be picking late in the round.

Consider a player like Kasperi Kapanen who is an established NHL player that could play on a second line. He’s projected to sign for around 2.3 Million. According to evolving hockey added around 1.4 wins to his team this year, roughly one more win than the average player (.48). Definitely worth considering an offer sheet in the 2.1M-4.2M range.

As for the highest tier which are deals greater than 10.5M Very few players are ever going to be worth that much money as well as the four first rounders that you’d have to give up as compensation .Realistically the only players that would we be worth that are McDavid but it would likely be matched anyways; So, the best players if they got offer sheeted would be in the 8.5M – 10.5M as its only two firsts, a second, and a third for that, which considering players like Marner, Point and Rantanen could be a good tradeoff for teams in win now mode, but, they’d likely be matched. It’s my opinion that the second and third level of offer sheets (1.1M-4.2M) are the best levels given the value you can extract for the cost.

The Stats

Below is a visualization of every RFA this summer with at least two years of NHL experience. This first graph is the RFA’s WAR (from vs. their Predicted Cap Hit (Also from The WAR is a weighted average of their last two years with a 2-1 weight (2017-2018, 2018-2019).In the second graph it shows a detailed GAR (Goals Above Replacement, also breakdown of the RFA’s with their even-strength GAR, powerplay GAR, Shorthanded GAR and penalty GAR (penalties drawn and taken in goals). Feel free to play with it using the sliders and filters on the right.

The lines show a regression which aims to predict the WAR a player contributes given their cap hit. Following this logic the higher a player is above the line the better a deal they are and vice versa for below the line. The blue line is for defensemen and orange for forwards.

Given this fact we can see that the best projected contracts for teams are Brayden Point, Will Butcher, Andrew Copp and Travis Sanheim. the last three are at the top of the big group centred around 2.5M.

Who Would Be a Good Player to Offer Sheet

I like the idea of an offer sheet for Travis Sanheim at around 3.7M-4M. This year Sanheim had a WAR of 2.2 and his weighted WAR average is 1.5. He played substantial minutes (1,378 per corsica) while playing with 0.76 primary points per 60. His corsi for% was 49.6% which isn’t great but he had a zone start ratio of 47.9% which accounts for some of the corsi%. His mark of a 2.2 WAR is tied for 27th best among defensemen alongside 8 others. Given he’s just 23 you could make the claim that getting him on a seven year deal at 3.7M would be great value if he can continue his WAR from this year. As for the chance that Philadelphia could match the offer that’s why I moved it up much higher than his predicted 2.9M but still there’s no guarantee that the Flyers wouldn’t match a 3.7M offer given they’d only get a second round pick as compensation. Still its a risk I’d heavily consider given the reward.

The second player I’d consider for an offer sheet would be Andrew Copp. He’s had a steady WAR over the last three years (1.3, 1.3, 1.4), is projected to cost 2.2M and as a 24 year old he’s still where players tend to plateau for a couple of years. Again you’d have to pay over the expected 2.2M and probably close to 4M but given that they Winnipeg also have to re-sign Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, and Jacob Trouba among others they could let an offer sheet for Copp slide and at the end of the day a player that gives 1.4 WAR for a second round pick is a good trade and for around 4M (upper bound for second round pick compensation tier) I don’t think it’d be considered a steal but not a bad pickup by any means.

There are other player’s out there that are also good potential offer sheet targets these two are just some ways I think you could beat the market to get a good player for little when still in their prime.

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