NHL offer sheets: a 'what-if' guide

There haven't been many offer sheets tendered to restricted free agents that went unmatched, but here we examine what the consequences would've been if offer sheets from years past had gone through and stars like Joe Sakic, Sergei Fedorov, Ryan Kesler had been snatched away.
The Philadelphia Flyers tendered an offer sheet to Ryan Kesler in 2006. While the Vancouver Canucks matched the deal, this is how Kesler would've looked like in black and orange. (Getty Images/

David Poile and the rest of the Nashville Predators' brass have some serious deliberating to do over the next week. The question before them is whether they will match the offer sheet presented by the Philadelphia Flyers to their captain and all-star defenceman, Shea Weber.

There haven't been many offer sheets tendered to restricted free agents that went unmatched, but here we examine what the consequences would have been if offer sheets from years past had gone through and other stars had been snatched away.

(Remember, this is an exercise in "what-if fiction" and had the players moved, there is no telling what sort of difference/rip in the space time continuum it would have created)

Player: Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche

Year: 1997

The offer: New York Rangers offer a three-year, $21 million US deal with a $15 million signing bonus.

What could've been: The Colorado Avalanche would have received five 1st-round picks, which the Rangers used to draft Manny Malhotra (1998, 7th overall), Pavel Brendl (1999, 4th overall), Jamie Lundmark (1999, 9th overall), no pick in 2000, Dan Blackburn (2001, 10th overall), no pick in 2002, Hugh Jessiman (2003, 12th overall).

Hindsight is 20/20 in 2012: The Avs went on to win their second Stanley Cup in 2001, while the Rangers draft choices never really lived up to expectations.

Player: Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres

Year: 2007

The offer: The Edmonton Oilers dangled a seven-year, $50 million deal for four 1st-round picks.

What could've been: Edmonton went on to draft Jordan Eberle (2008, 22nd overall), Magnus Paajarvi (2009, 10th overall), Taylor Hall (2010, 1st overall), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011, 1st overall).

Hindsight is 20/20 in 2012: The Sabres had just won the Presidents’ Trophy, but lost Danny Briere and Chris Drury to the Rangers in free agency. Vanek’s stats that year, at age 23: 43 goals, 84 points, plus-47. Since then, he's averaged 32 goals and 63 points over the five seasons. Would you trade that for Eberle, Paajarvi, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins? Sorry, we can't hear you over the sound of Sabres' fans banging their heads on the table nearest to them, you'll have to speak up.

Player: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks

Year: 2010

The offer: The San Jose Sharks offered a four-year, $14 million deal for 1st and 3rd round picks in 2011.

What could've been: San Jose went on to draft Justin Sefton in the 3rd round (no 1st round pick) and Mathew Nieto in the 2nd round.

Hindsight is 20/20 in 2012: Too early to tell, but Hjalmarsson is within the top 100 in time-on-ice for NHL defenceman. So... yeah. Maybe it is too early to tell.

Player: Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks

Year: 2006

The offer: Philadelphia Flyers offered a one-year, $1.9 million contract for a 2nd round pick in 2007.

What could've been: Kesler had 10 goals and 23 points in 82 games in 2006 for the Canucks with a salary of $722,000. Flyers went on to draft Kevin Marshall (2007, 41st overall).

Hindsight is 20/20 in 2012: We all know how important Kesler is to the Canucks now, so let's hear what Kevin Bieksa had to say about the Flyers going after another star with an offer sheet : "#Weber #offersheet @Ryan_Kesler Now that's an offer sheet Kes! Makes yours look like 2 three year olds bartering for the red lego... "

Player: Sergei Fedorov, Detroit Red Wings

Year: 1998

The offer: The Carolina Hurricanes offer a six-year, $38 million deal for five 1st-round draft picks.

What could've been: Carolina went on to draft David Tanabe (1999, 16th overall), no pick in 2000, Igor Knyazev (2001, 15th overall), but then things started to get interesting. Cam Ward (2002, 25th overall), Eric Staal (2003, 2nd overall), Andrew Ladd (2004, 4th overall), key pieces of the Hurricanes' 2006 Stanley Cup win.

Hindsight is 20/20 in 2012: Fedorov signed the deal while playing for Russia at the Nagano Olympics. The deal included a $26 million signing bonus. Fedorov went on to help Detroit win Stanley Cups in 1998 and 2002.