Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman not a fan of offer sheets for restricted free agents

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Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he doesn't like using offer sheets to lure players from an opponent, and it has nothing to do with the idea fellow GMs would look unfavorably at the maneuver.

Nope, the way Yzerman sees it, with offer sheets, "you're just screwing up your own pay structure."

"The only way a team doesn't match the offer is if you grossly overpay the player," he said. "That's why I don't like it. If you do a contract for the right value of a player, chances are the other team is just going to match it."

It is an interesting discussion given chatter last week that teams might go the offer-sheet route with Canucks goalie Cory Schneider. A report in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper even singled out the Lightning as a possibility.

Schneider, 26, who can be a restricted free agent July 1 and is considered a franchise player, certainly is an attractive target. And Tampa Bay is in desperate need of a goalie and likes Schneider.

But offer sheets, if accepted, come with a price beyond what a team is willing to pay in salary. The team losing the player also must be compensated. The higher the offer sheet, the more draft picks, including first-rounders, go the other way.

There also is this: Teams extending offer sheets cannot contact players until June 26, cannot sign players until July 1 and may have only a small window to do so if the player (by July 5) or his team (by July 6) files for salary arbitration, which stops the offer.

No wonder only Dustin Penner, who left the Ducks for the Oilers in the summer of 2007, is the only player to move via offer sheet since the latest collective bargaining agreement went into effect in 2005.

That move caused so much friction between then-Ducks GM Brian Burke and Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, there was talk they would fight.

Asked if he would be worried about such frayed feelings, Yzerman said, "Well, not really."

"At the end of the day we're all competitive," he said. "We're all trying to put the best team on the ice within the rules of the CBA. The biggest issue, in my opinion, is in order to get the player, you have to overpay. When a contract is out of whack, I think everybody — not only the general managers, the media, everybody — looks at you like, 'What are you doing?' It doesn't make sense."

TICKET UPDATE: Lightning attendance took an appreciable jump this season.

Official average attendance (tickets sold and distributed) was 18,468, up 7 percent from 17,268 in 2010-11. And records from Hills­borough County, which owns the Tampa Bay Times Forum, show actual attendance (the turnstile count) up 14 percent from an average 13,474 in 2010-11 to 15,364.

Now comes the hard part: maintaining the upward trend after a nonplayoff season.

"There were some folks who sort of jumped on the bandwagon or might have only been doing it based on (the 2010-11) playoff run," chief executive officer Tod Leiweke said. "But the vast majority of fans come back because they believe in what (owner Jeff Vinik) is doing and they see what (Yzerman) is doing."

Leiweke said that between full and partial packages, the goal is to maintain this season's 11,000 season-ticket base. It is believed the team has sold slightly more than 8,000 season tickets so far.

"If we can maintain a number like that (11,000) and get back on the ice where we want to be, we feel good about it," Leiweke said.

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