New York Rangers should offer sheet a Restricted Free Agent

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 10: Leon Draisaitl
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 10: Leon Draisaitl /

The New York Rangers’ recent trade with Arizona has left them with plenty of cap space and no real “first line center” on the roster. To fill this void in the organization, the Rangers should use their newly acquired cap space to offer sheet centers from other teams.

The New York Rangers recently traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Coyotes in an attempt to get younger. They are “rebuilding on the fly”, to quote General Manager Jeff Gorton.

The Rangers do not have a top line center on their roster anymore. There is hope that Mika Zibanejad is able to take the next step forward in 2017-18., but even if he does, the Rangers still need another top six center.

As great as Kevin Hayes is on offense, there is still much to be desired defensively. Hayes is one of those players who’s game style leads to “goals for everyone”. This means that while he generates tons of goals, other teams score just as many goals or more against him.

The Rangers could try and acquire a top six center in a trade, but they would likely have to give up most of their assets to do so. They could also try to sign an unrestricted free agent, but almost every center on the market is a bottom six caliber player and will be overpaid.

The Rangers could go forward with their current center core and bring Lias Andersson over to be the third-line center, but that still doesn’t help them out all that much in the short term.

So what should the Rangers look to do to acquire a top six center then? The answer is offer sheet a young and dynamic center on another team.

Related Story: Analyzing the center pool in free agency

What is offer sheeting?

Offer sheeting is when a team offers a contract to a restricted free agent on another team. If a player signs an offer sheet, then the player’s team has a week to match the offer or accept compensation.

The compensation that a team is awarded is determined based on the Averaged Annual Value divided by the years of the contract. However, if the years offered is greater than five, then the AAV is divided by five instead.

Below is a chart of the offer sheet compensation:

The thing about offer sheets is that they are rarely used. General Managers typically fear the repercussions of offer sheeting, which is other teams doing the same to their players. On top of that, teams will normally have to overpay in order to keep the player’s original team from being able to match the offer sheet.

Because of this, there has only been one player to switch teams via offer sheeting since the Salary Cap was introduced.

Related Story: Four low-profile possession driving free agent targets

Why the Rangers should offer sheet RFAs

This offseason boasts quite a few talented restricted free agent centers. A few of the names are Ryan Johansen, Leon Draisaitl, and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Anyone of those players would be a giant boost to the Rangers’ forward core and top six. These players would not be stop gaps for a season or two. These are core players.

The compensation would be worth it for these players. It is hard to find any player in the draft who could be better than these players already are. On top of that, the Rangers could strike a serious blow to their Metropolitan opponents.

The Rangers could offer Kuznetsov a $7.8 million deal for five years. They could also offer sheet Conor Sheary to a $3.9 million deal for five years.

If either team was to lose those players they would be losing important pieces to their forward cores. At the same time, if they were to match those offer sheets, they would be forced to overpay for those players.

The Capitals and the Penguins have been up against the cap in recent years. Matching the offer sheet may potentially cause them to have to lose another important player.

Either way, the Rangers would either gain a great player or cause their divisional rivals to overpay for players. It’s really a win-win situation for them. And if the Rangers are diligent with their pending RFAs, they won’t have to worry about “payback” offer sheets.

Next: Five non-tendered free agents that could be targeted

The Rangers have more cap than they have had in a long time. They could seriously improve their center depth while also weakening another team if they were to offer sheet one of the top RFA centers. Doing so would put them in a great position to be contenders for the 2017-18 season and beyond.