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History shows most restricted FAs will stay with team

by Emily Kaplan /
The noon deadline has come and gone, and several restricted free agents -- headlined by Tampa Bay Lightning All-Star forward Steven Stamkos -- have yet to reach a deal with their team.

Now that the free agency market is open, any team is open to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets. The player's current team, however, has the right to match the offer sheet -- or let that player walk for draft pick compensation based on the offer.

History shows that since the summer of 2005, only six restricted free agents have been signed to offer sheets, and only one time has that player's team not matched the offer.

With the depth of this year's class of restricted free agents, could that history change? Among the players available at forward are Stamkos, Boston's Brad Marchand, Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky of the New York Rangers, Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek, Toronto's Clarke MacArthur and Winnipeg's Andrew Ladd. On defense there's Los Angeles' Drew Doughty, Montreal's Josh Gorges, Phoenix's Keith Yandle, Toronto's Luke Schenn and Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian.

Since the work stoppage in 2004-05, Dustin Penner is the only restricted free agent to switched teams.

In 2007 the Ducks' right wing -- who had 29 goals in 2006-07, his first full NHL season -- was a restricted free agent who couldn't come to terms on a new contract with the Ducks. That's when the Edmonton Oilers signed Penner to a five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet. When Anaheim chose not to match, Penner became an Oiler.

In return, the Ducks received first-, second- and third-round draft picks from the Oilers as compensation.

Penner, however, is the outlier to a dominant trend in the post-lockout NHL: Most restricted free agents stay with their teams.

In 2006, the Flyers signed Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler to an offer sheet, but the Canucks matched it.

Prior to signing Penner, earlier in the summer of 2007 Edmonton signed Buffalo left wing Thomas Vanek to an offer sheet, but the Sabres matched it.

In 2008, Vancouver signed St. Louis forward David Backes to an offer sheet, which the Blues matched. The Blues then signed Canucks forward Steve Bernier to an offer sheet, which the Canucks matched.

Last summer, San Jose signed Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet, but the Blackhawks eventually matched.

It is unclear what Stamkos or any of this year’s still-restricted free agents will do. But if they follow the lead of most of their predecessors, they aren't likely to be going anywhere.
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