The Lightning, still trying to sign restricted free agent wing Nikita Kucherov, is in a salary cap crunch, with between $5 million and $5.5 million of room left, cap website capfriendly.com says. Kucherov could warrant $6 million or more annually.
Does that make it a perfect storm for another team to make Kucherov an offer sheet and force the Lightning's hand?
"I don't see an offer sheet on Kucherov being viable," said TV analyst Craig Button, a former Flames general manager.
Offer sheets are when a another team makes an offer to a restricted free agent. The team with the player's rights has the right to match the offer within seven days. A team that doesn't match gets compensation for losing the player.
Using Kucherov's case as an example, if he received an offer and the Lightning didn't match it, Tampa Bay would receive compensation from the offering team based on Kucherov's annual average salary value in the offer. If the value was between $5.6 million and $7.5 million, Tampa Bay would get a first-, a second- and a third-round draft pick.
That's one reason offer sheets are rare. The most recent player to leave a team on one was wing Dustin Penner, who left the Ducks in 2007 for the Oilers and a five-year, $21 million deal.
Button said the bigger deterrent than compensation is each team's salary cap vulnerability. Not many teams can afford to make a run at Kucherov. And Button said he believes the Lightning would match offers to Kucherov, the team's leading scorer last season.
Button recalled that in 1998, when he was the Stars' director of player personnel, they extended an offer sheet to depth defenseman Sean Gagnon and the Coyotes matched it. "Sean Gagnon gets matched?" Button said. "Guys like Kucherov, there's no way (he doesn't)."
Around the league
Oilers' McDavid youngest captain in NHL history: Center Connor McDavid was named the Oilers' captain Wednesday, becoming the youngest captain in league history at 19 years, 266 days and having just 45 games of NHL experience after being 2015's top draft pick. "He showed that he was ready to take charge," coach Todd McLellan said. The previous youngest captain was Gabriel Landeskog, 19 years, 286 days when the Avalanche gave him the "C" in September 2012.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.