NHL Rumors: Trouba, Offer Sheets, and the Blackhawks

In today’s rumor rundown Jacob Trouba and the Winnipeg Jets have both submitted their ask for the purpose of salary arbitration and the two sides are far apart. Another report suggests the practice of tendering offer sheets in the NHL is vanishing quicker than a speeding ticket and the Chicago Blackhawks appeared to have hurried up, only to wait since opening up cap space and having no moves on the immediate horizon.

Trouba’s Arbitration Numbers Submitted

The lone arbitration hearing set for Friday, July 20th is Jacob Trouba’s of the Winnipeg Jets. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the two sides have submitted their salary figures, with the Jets filing for $4MM and Trouba’s camp asking for $7MM.

Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba
Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Obviously, teams like to nail these contracts down before having to go to arbitration and that the two sides have different figures is not surprising. It could be concerning the difference between the figures is so large but there is still time to negotiate.

Friedman noted that teams and players can continue to negotiate until after the hearing as long as the arbitrator hasn’t made a judgment. If Trouba and the Jets can get a deal done somewhere in the middle, with the knowledge these things tend to lean a bit more towards the player, $5.8-$6 million range might be expected.

Related: NHL Rumors: Trouba, Rask, Seguin, More

NHL Offer Sheets Disappearing?

The last restricted free agent to receive an offer sheet and sign it was recently traded center Ryan O’Reilly. But, if a recent report is correct, don’t expect any more of those any time soon.

Ryan O'Reilly - Buffalo Sabres
Ryan O’Reilly (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

An article by Craig Custance of The Athletic suggests NHL offer sheets for restricted free agents are likely to die off and that an informal poll of NHL GM’s suggested the league won’t see any this summer despite some big-name RFA’s being available.

Nine NHL general managers were asked and none believed an offer sheet was looming.  Custance writes:

“It sure doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen either, despite an interesting batch of restricted free agents. Colleague Jonathan Willis compiled a list of attractive offer sheet targets that included high-end young talent like Calgary’s Noah Hanifin, Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, Winnipeg’s Nic Petan, Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse and Toronto’s William Nylander. But don’t hold your breath.”

source – “Custance: Straw poll of NHL GMs suggests offer sheet drought will continue” – Craig Custance – The Athletic – 07/17/2018

Part of the reason offer sheet will be so rare is because general managers hate them in the aspect that they drive up salaries for players without the team actually acquiring the player. By offering and allowing someone to sign an offer meant to be higher than their perceived value, only in an effort to “scoop” them from their current teams, those documented salaries make it easy for players of a similar caliber to demand similar pay. That’s when the dominoes start to fall.

The only way an offer sheet may work in the future is if a team specifically targets another franchise who cannot afford to match a salary based on cap issues or internal franchise policies exist not to offer no-trade or rates above a certain level. But, does a team really know if and when said franchise would be willing to bend or break their own rules under the right set of circumstances?

Related: NHL Rumors: Panarin, Dumba, Zucker, More

Blackhawks Stuck Waiting

Despite finally having some cap space, multiple reports are that Chicago Blackhawks may not be able to do much more this offseason, at least not yet. The Chicago Sun Times’ Mark Lazerus is reporting general manager Stan Bowman “sounded as though he has come up empty-handed” in making bigger moves. Bowman spoke to Chicago media and said the door is still open for a late-summer deal but nothing is imminent.

Stan Bowman - Chicago Blackhawks GM
Stan Bowman, Blackhawks General Manager (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Lazerus believes Bowman is still looking for a couple pieces and rumors were Jeff Skinner and/or Justin Faulk were names he’d targeted. But, Bowman isn’t willing to give up forwards Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat to land these players.

Rumors of the Blackhawks moving Artem Anisimov may still be out there but the reason to move him was to free up cap space which the Blackhawks no longer badly need.