As expected the Carolina Hurricanes announced Tuesday that they “intend” to match the five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet to Carolina Hurricanes budding young star Sebastian Aho the Montreal Canadiens tendered on Monday. As a result of Aho’s new contract being frontloaded with bonuses, the Canes will now have to pay Aho approximately $21 million in the first year of the contract and they cannot change their mind and try to trade him. Carolina now has just $11 million in cap space to sign three more RFA’s at the NHL level. When the news broke Monday that the Montreal Canadiens had tendered the offer sheet, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was not surprised.
“I don’t think it’s catching anybody off guard because it’s a mechanism that exists that will continue I think to play a factor as teams go forward,” said of the NHL’s first offer sheet tendered since 2013. “You know, player supply is what it is. You know, when teams get situations for – you know, cap I think dictates that some teams will be aggressive in that way.”
So would Sweeney ever consider following in Habs GM Marc Bergevin’s steps?
I think every general manager would be lying to you if they said they wouldn’t do it,” Sweeney said. “It just depends on the situation in terms of, back to the question earlier, how you’re going to forecast things coming back at you. It’s just, it’s a mechanism that exists, and I think everybody would be lying if they didn’t say they wouldn’t be using it in some point in time if it was the right thing to do.”
One of the reasons the offer sheet is such a rarely used tool by NHL GM’s is for fear of retribution by not just the GM of the team that has the player that gets an offer sheet but throughout the league. Many in the NHL feel that once a GM lays down that gauntlet, he will be blackballed when trying to make trades. Sweeney was asked if the offer sheet becomes more common, will there be less scorn hurled the way of the offering GM.
“I think everybody would say generally what goes around comes around,” he replied. “I don’t know. You have to ask the individual guys. I can’t sit here and tell you I know how I’d react because you don’t know how things will play out, whether or not the situation presents itself.”
Sweeney acknowledged that this contract Aho and the Canes just signed, could very well affect him and 29 other GM’s in negotiations with their own RFA’s and also said that he’s not only prepared for that but he indicated that he’s also ready should another GM tender an offer sheet to defenseman Brandon Carlo or forward Danton Heinen who are both restricted free agents. This is why Sweeney believes he always needs to be cognizant of what’s not only facing him now cap wise but also down the road.
“I think it affects every team, one way or the other from a planning perspective,” he pointed out. “I think I’ve been out in front of the fact that we’ve been accounting for any situation we’re not under the gun.”