Top 5: Game Changing Offer Sheets That Didn’t Happen

Offer sheets in the NHL are rare. Successful NHL offer sheets are nothing short of impossible to find. Sometimes the team that sends an offer sheet sends aseemingly weak offer that never had a chance of being successful. Though on rare occasions there have been teams that tried to pursue the top stars in the game with offer sheets that seemed too good to fail, but for one reason or another they did. These are the top 5 biggest game changing offer sheets that didn’t happen.

Number 5: Teemu Selanne to the Flames

The Winnipeg Jets drafted Finnish forward Teemu Selanne 10th overall in 1988. During the early 1990’s the Jets let their European prospects develop in their native country, but with Selanne tearing up the Finnish Liiga, the Jets wanted him to come to North America. Because they never signed Selanne to a contract when he was drafted, he was technically a restricted free agent and thus prone to an offer sheet.

The Calgary Flames were on the brink of something special in 1992. Their forward group consisted of Theo Fleury, Robert Reichel, Gary Roberts, Gary Suter, and Joe Nieuwendyk, but they wanted a little more fire power to their lineup. They sent a three-year, $2.7 million offer sheet to Selanne in the summer of 1992. That was over double what the Jets were originally offering the young forward. Even though the Jets organization was struggling financially, they matched the offer sheet a few days later. Luckily for them they did, as Selanne put up 76 goals and 132 points during his rookie campaign.

Number 4: Shea Weber to Philadelphia

We’ve already taken a look at the impacts of Shea Weber not signing with the Flyers, but it’s still a worthwhile story to tell again. The Nashville Predators had a rough 2012 offseason. They already lost Weber’s partner Ryan Suter to an offer sheet from Minnesota, and they were primed to lose Shea Weber as well. The Flyers, who were desperate for a top defenseman after Chris Pronger’s career ending injury earlier in the season, sent Shea Weber the richest offer sheet in NHL history, clocking in at 14 years and $110 million. Five days later, in a stunning move, the Predators matched the offer sheet.

Number 3: Keith Tkachuk to the Blackhawks

Three seasons after the Jets fought off the Flames’ offer sheet for Teemu Selanne, they faced another challenge, this time from the Chicago Blackhawks. By the time 1995 rolled around the Jets were at bankruptcies’ door and relocation was already in the works. That seemed like a perfect scenario for the Blackhawks to swoop in and steal away captain Keith Tkachuk, whom they signed to a front-loaded five-year, $17.2 million deal. Even in their financial ruin, the Jets took just six hours to match the offer sheet. Tkachuk was immediately stripped of the captaincy, but he still put up a career-high 50-goal, 98-point season during the Jets final year of existence before they moved to Phoenix.

Number 2: Joe Sakic to the Rangers

Are you ready for a wild story? In the summer of 1997 Colorado Avalanche forward Joe Sakic was due a contract after losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Final. With huge sums of money already invested in Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, teams knew he was vulnerable to an offer sheet, which came to fruition when he signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the New York Rangers. What seemed like a sure-fire loss turned around thanks to the movie Air Force One, which premiered earlier in the year. The company that owned the Avalanche at the time was COMSAT, who produced the movie. The profits from the blockbuster movie gave the team the funds to match the offer sheet and retain the services of their captain.

Number 1: Sergei Fedorov to Carolina

The Detroit Red Wings entered the 1997-98 season without star forward Sergei Fedorov, who was holding out for a new contract. On February 22, 1998 the fledgling Carolina Hurricanes, who were in their first season after relocating from Hartford, sent a six-year, $38 million offer sheet to the Russian forward. The contract was heavily front-loaded and laced with incentives, including a $14 million signing bonus and a $2 million bonus for playing 21 games. The most controversial part of the deal was a $12 million bonus if the team reached the 1998 Conference Final. With the Hurricanes almost assuredly missing the playoffs and the Wings a Cup contender, Detroit argued that that was an unfair disadvantage. Nonetheless the Red Wings matched the deal four days later and ultimately ended up paying the bonuses, as the Wings won the Cup in 1998. Fedorov made $28 million for their 43 total games, which makes that the largest single-season amount ever paid to an NHL player.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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