3 infamous NHL offer sheets that went unmatched

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: Scott Stevens #4 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL game action on March 25, 2000 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: Scott Stevens #4 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL game action on March 25, 2000 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes’ offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi has put the hockey world in a frenzy.

Offer sheets in the NHL are serious business, usually.

When Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell submitted an offer sheet to Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi on Saturday, the reaction from the hockey world was anything but serious.

It was only two summers ago when the roles were reversed — the Canadiens sent Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho an offer sheet worth $42.27 million over five years on July 1, 2019.

Carolina matched the tendered contract, retaining Aho’s services and assuring that Montreal was nothing more than a footnote in the history of NHL offer sheets.

The offer sheet to Kotkaniemi submitted on Saturday, a one-year deal, $6.1 million deal, hardly tells the whole story. In fact, it appears that a full-blown front office rivalry between Carolina and Montreal has developed.

Look no further than the Hurricanes social media team’s use of French when announcing the offer sheet via Twitter.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has until Sept. 4 to match the tendered contract. If not, Kotkaniemi will become a member of the Hurricanes and Montreal will receive a first-round and third-round pick from Carolina as compensation.

In the spirit of the Hurricanes’ splash on Saturday, let’s take a look at three of the most memorable offer sheets that were unmatched by the team who owned the services of the restricted player.

Dustin Penner departs from Anaheim, joins Oilers — July 26, 2007

The infamous Dustin Penner offer sheet submitted by Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe is the last time that a tendered contract was unmatched.

Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke was less than impressed with the Oilers’ decision to pursue Penner.

“I think it’s an act of desperation from a GM who’s fighting to keep his job,” Burke said of Lowe in the aftermath of the offer sheet.

Burke and the Ducks decided not to match the Oilers’ offer to Penner, and as a result, were given three draft picks as compensation.

At the time of the offer sheet, Penner was viewed as one of the most coveted power forwards in the league, after scoring 29 goals and 45 points during the 2006-2007 campaign.

Burke has made it known throughout his front-office career that he is no fan of the offer sheet. When he served as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs two years after the Penner saga, he opted to make a standard trade with the Boston Bruins in exchange for RFA Phil Kessel instead of pursuing the offer-sheet route.

Blues shock world, sign Brendan Shanahan — July 25, 1991

For many, the idea of an offer sheet starts and ends with draft-pick compensation. In the infancy of the system, however, an arbitrator would usually have to step in and decide what the return would be in the case of an unmatched tendered offer.

And in the case of Brendan Shanahan’s offer sheet 30 years ago, the compensation awarded to the New Jersey Devils for not matching the offer was Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens.

Shanahan scored 29 goals with New Jersey in 1990-1991, prior to joining St. Louis at the start of the 1991-1992 season. As for Stevens, his legacy would be cemented with the Devils, all the way until his retirement in 2005.

St. Louis’ brass did not expect to lose Stevens as part of its offer sheet submitted to Shanahan. Originally, the team expected to part with Curtis Joseph, Rod Brind’Amour and two draft picks in exchange for the star forward.

Things don’t always go as planned — the Blues learned that the hard way after NHL arbitrator Edward Houston sent Stevens packing to New Jersey.

Capitals receive five first-round picks for Scott Stevens — July 16, 1990

Before becoming the longest reigning captain in Devils history, Stevens was subject to a pair of offer sheets — the aforementioned Shanahan offer only saw the defenseman act as compensation. One year prior however, he was the primary target.

St. Louis offered Stevens a four-year, $5.1 million deal while his services were still owned by the Washington Capitals. After the tendered contract was unmatched, the then 25-year-old defenseman became a member of the Blues.

The compensation sent to the Capitals? A whopping price of five first-round picks.

Ironically though, the aforementioned Shanahan offer sheet in 1991 resulted in Stevens only spending one year in St. Louis. In a span of two offseasons, playing the offer sheet game became a full-blown disaster for Blues general manager Ron Caron.

St. Louis’ involvement in tendering contracts to RFAs in the early 1990s has acted as ‘Exhibit A’ for all that can go wrong when submitting an offer sheet.

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