The contract offer sheet is a tool rarely used by NHL general managers, but this offseason could be different because of the salary cap crunch some teams are feeling and the wealth of talent among the Group 2 restricted free agents who would be eligible to sign one.
The interview period for pending Group 2 restricted free agents begins Wednesday; teams can start signing them to contract offer sheets on July 1. The player's current team can re-sign him at any time.
Potential candidates to sign an offer sheet include Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner, Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point, Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski, Winnipeg Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, and Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.
But what does the offer sheet entail? What happens if, for example, Marner signs an offer sheet with another team and the Maple Leafs decide they don't want to match it? What happens if they do?
Here is your offer sheet Q&A primer:
What is an offer sheet?
The offer sheet is an irrevocable document containing the terms of a standard contract a player signs with a team other than his own. It contains the principal terms of a contract, including length and salary compensation.
What happens when a player signs an offer sheet?
The player must give his team notice of the offer sheet and histeam then has seven days to determine if it wants to match the terms. The player cannot be traded in that seven-day period.
If matched, the player remains with his team under the terms of the offer sheet he signed and he would not be eligible to be traded for one year.
If his team refuses to match, the player goes to the team that signed him to the offer sheet and his former team receives compensation in draft picks, based on the financial terms of the offer sheet.
The team signing the player to the offer sheet must be in possession of the necessary draft picks that would go to the player's former team as compensation if the offer sheet is not matched.
What is the draft pick compensation scale for this year?
The terms listed below include the average annual value of the offer sheet and the corresponding draft-pick compensation. For an offer sheet of six or seven years, the average annual value would be based on a five-year term:
$1,395,053 million or below -- No draft pick compensation
More than $1,395,053 to $2,113,716 -- third-round pick
More than $2,113,716 to $4,227,437 -- second-round pick
More than $4,227,437 to $6,341,152 -- First- and third-round picks
More than $6,341,152 to $8,454,871 -- First-, second- and third-round picks
More than $8,454,871 to $10,568,589 -- two first-round picks, one second-round pick and one third-round pick
More than $10,568,589 -- four first-round picks (can be spread over five-year period)
Who was the last player to sign an offer sheet?
While with Colorado, center Ryan O'Reilly, signed a two-year, $10 million offer sheet with the Calgary Flames on Feb. 28, 2013. It was matched by the Avalanche, and O'Reilly was retained.
O'Reilly was the eighth player to sign an offer sheet in the salary cap era (since 2005-06).
Has any player changed teams because of an offer sheet?
Dustin Penner is the last player whose offer sheet was not matched by his previous team.
The forward signed a five-year, $21.5 million offer sheet (average annual value $4.3 million) with the Edmonton Oilers on July 26, 2007. The Anaheim Ducks didn't match and instead received Edmonton's first-, second- and third-round picks in the 2008 NHL Draft based on the compensation scale at the time.