by PuckStopsHere on 07/25/12 at 11:37 AM ET
Restricted free agency isn’t really free agency in that players rarely move onto new teams. Even when they sign an offer sheet it is rare that they move to a new team. As a case in point we can look at the Shea Weber offer sheet signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was signed t a 14 year $110 million offer sheet that is front loaded in that he receives $14 million this year and a $13 million bonus due for next season next summer. This makes $27 million effectively paid within the next year. The contract is large but not unreasonable for a player as good as Weber but the costs are a test of how committed the Nashville ownership group is to winning. The Nashville ownership group has passed and decided to match the offer. This was necessary for the team to remain competitive after losing Ryan Suter to free agency. Now Weber may remain a Predator for his career - unless he is traded.
There are a few teams that might not be able to afford to match such an offer sheet in Florida or Phoenix or perhaps elsewhere. If they have a player of Weber’s calibre who becomes a restricted free agent they may be tested and they may wind up giving up the player in question. Otherwise this is not a particularly fruitful thing for teams to do. Signing a restricted free agent to an offer sheet merely winds up signing a player for another team.
There is a meaningful reason that teams may still tender offer sheets to restricted free agents. If teams find themselves very near the salary cap with a restricted free agent still to sign, it is often an intelligent move. Even if the offer sheet is matched it may force the team to let another player go. This happened when Niklas Hjalmarsson received an offer sheet in Chicago prompting Antti Niemi to be cut lose.
The Nashville Predators ownership group was tested with the Shea Weber offer sheet. They passed the test. Weber is now a Nashville Predator and he may stay there for life.
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