The Kings made a SPLASH yesterday with their acquisition of Mike Richards. With Kopistarrr and Richards, the Kings have now depth at center. Yes they dealt away some of their winger depth, but we all know Cup Contenders are strong down the middle (think Pittsburgh when healthy, San Jose).
So if you are a Pacific Division team, what do you do? The Kings now have depth down the middle, a strong blueline, and good goaltending. Not to mention still plenty of cap space this offseason.
What you do is simple: On July 1, if Drew freaking Doughty is still unsigned, you sign him to an offer sheet. 5 years, $8-8.5M Cap hit. Just about every Pac division team could fit that in. Of course the Yotes wouldn’t do it, but the Ducks Stars and maybe the SHarks should consider it. Even if the Kings match, they now have to pay Doughty at market price, no home town/RFA discount. Some Kings fans are hoping his cap hit will be 5-6M. Deano has an offer out to it, and I have to believe it’s in that range.
BUT here you have a once in a generation 21 year old defenseman. If he hits the market July 1, even the restricted market, how are teams not lining up for him? Especially good teams with cap space: those four firsts in RFA compensation don’t mean much if you are a good team and expect those picks to be low. Also, for the Pacific Division, if the Kings match and have to pay an $2M in cap hit, and that $2M that can’t be spent to get another player to fill out the Kings roster.
There are simply too many reasons for plenty of teams, especially those in the Pacific, to not offer sheet Doughty on July 1 if he’s still available.
Also, regardless of division, there are some intriguing defensemen RFA’s that can be offer sheeted if not signed by July 1: Zach Bogosian, Keith Yandle, and Luke Schenn come to mind (Nashville is taking Weber to arbitration and now cannot be offer sheeted). ALL are worth an offer sheet, of varying amounts of course. Yandle is the most intriguing, arguably he’s worth a $5M + offer sheet, easily. Schenn is a maybe for the $5M range, but $4M makes perfect sense (of course Leafs can easily match). Bogo is the wild card: no secre that ATL was unhappy with him, but who knows about Winnipeg. They can certainly match any offer sheet, but how much is too much? If someone wants Bogo for $5M cap hit, is that too much?
As a fan who enjoys July 1 and the NHL FA period, I’m hoping all of these RFA’s make it to July 1 still a FA so we can all see if offer sheets are thrown around and whether they will be matched.