Did Doug Wilson Ruin The Offer Sheet?
Free agency is a thrilling time filled with acquisitions, blockbuster trades, and the constant threat of an offer sheet. Our news feeds are bombarded with updates about acquisitions and trades, but rarely do we hear of offer sheets materializing.
This summer, two young stellar players were free agents: Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, who has since re-signed with Tampa Bay, and the Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, who has yet to sign with anyone (GM Dean Lombardi recently said they are still a long way from making an agreement, but are slowly moving in the right direction).
There has been much speculation on which teams would send offer sheets their way, but sources close to the players have denied that they have received any.
It is a rare occasion that two young NHL players of their caliber are up for grabs in the free agent market. Teams would give their proverbial right arms to have one of these players be a part of their organization.
So why in the world are they not inundated with offer sheets?
Then it hit me in the middle of my workout.
I suddenly remembered the big news from last summer when Doug Wilson, the GM for the San Jose Sharks, sent an offer sheet to the Chicago Blackhawks’ Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Chicago was in a bit of a jam last summer in regards to their cap space. Everyone knew they needed to dump as many expensive contracts as possible, and Doug Wilson showed no hesitation in making a strategic move. Wilson sent a four-year, $14 million offer sheet Hjalmarsson’s way. The then 23-year -old Hjalmarsson signed, putting the Chicago organization into a bind. They were facing arbitration with their star goalie, Antti Niemi, and this was the last thing they wanted to deal with.
At the end of the day, they matched the offer sheet and decided to part ways with Niemi. Again, Wilson saw another opportunity present itself and quickly signed Niemi to a one year $2 million deal.
I wonder if Doug Wilson’s actions had a larger effect than just taking away Chicago’s star goalie and forcing them to pay one of their players way more than originally planned.
Wilson is one of the best GMs in the business. People respect him, and he has done a wonderful job building a solid team in San Jose.
However, I think the events of last summer made GMs detest the offer sheet, and swear off from inflicting that kind of torture on another GM in fear of karma coming ‘round and nipping them in the future.
The Blackhawks were an easy target for an offer sheet last summer since they did not have the means to keep all their players.
They had to eventually let one of those big contracts go, so Wilson just helped guide the decision of who stayed and who left.
It will be interesting to see if the theory of a secret collusion does pan out. We will not necessarily know until one of San Jose’s own star players becomes eligible to receive an offer sheet.
Will a bold GM take the opportunity to give Wilson a taste of his own medicine?
Or will we find out that the offer sheet has gone to the wayside for some other reason entirely? Only time will tell.
Till then, we shall be left in the dark only to speculate and ponder what is really going on.