Hostile offers are extremely rare in the National Hockey League (NHL): Since 2010, five general managers have dared to court a restricted free agent whose rights belonged to another team, and this strategy has been successful only once.
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No need to remind Montreal Canadiens fans that the player the Carolina Hurricanes got their hands on in this way was Jesperi Kotkaniemi, back in 2021.
This season, about 100 athletes will become free agents with compensation starting July 13. Here are five potential candidates for a hostile NHL bid:
1- Jake Oettinger – Dallas Stars
Quality goalies are rare on the Bettman circuit, and several teams like the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs are still in dire need between the posts. Oettinger was brilliant in the playoffs, posting a .954 save percentage in seven games.
The Stars have just over $18 million of cap space, but they need to resolve the Jason Robertson case and possibly find a replacement for John Klingberg, who will soon be free as thin air. It would be very surprising if the Texas team let their former first-round pick go, but a hostile offer could force the Stars to give him a big contract.
2- Rasmus Sandin – Toronto Maple Leafs
After yet another playoff flop, the Maple Leafs are still stuck under the salary cap and won’t be able to keep all of their players who need a new contract, including Jack Campbell, Ilya Mikheyev and Ilya Lyubushkin. Young fullback Rasmus Sandin could then pique the curiosity of some teams.
A knee injury sidelined him at the end of the season, and Sheldon Keefe sidelined him in the spring. The Swede, who shone in 2020 at the Junior Hockey World Championship, has accumulated 16 points in 51 games this season.
A mobile southpaw defender, he could benefit from a fresh start. A one-year, $4 million offer would only cost an aggressive GM a second-round pick.
3-Andrew Mangiapane-Calgary Flames
Matthew Tkachuk is arguably one of the most coveted restricted free agents in the league, but it would take a mammoth hostile offer to convince the Flames to lose one of their best forwards this way. Also in the Alberta team’s priority files will be Johnny Gaudreau, who is an unrestricted free agent.
In the shadow of his attackers, however, Mangiapane huddles, who exploded offensively by scoring 35 goals, hitting 18.9% of his shots. He had scored as many goals in the previous two seasons combined; therefore, it is not impossible that he is unable to keep up with him.
However, the small forward from Toronto is considered a Swiss army knife and he is only 26 years old. A team could take advantage of the Flames’ plight to make a hostile offer to Mangiapane, but it would at least have to pay him a $6 million annual salary to force the Alberta organization to accept compensation, which would be the choice of the first round and a third round pick.
4 – Jesper Bratt – New Jersey Devils
The Devils will definitely be looking for a playoff spot next year, and Bratt should be an integral part of their success. More than he doubled his career best production from 2021-22 with 73 points.
However, some rumors are sending Johnny Gaudreau, a forward in the same mold as him, to New Jersey if he decides to test the free-agent market. If so, that could open the door to another roster coveting Bratt. At 23 years old, the Swedish winger already has 203 points in 307 games, but he has only played one playoff game.
5 – Martin Necas – Carolina Hurricanes
The “Canes” will have to make difficult decisions in the coming days. If they want to extend their marriage to veterans Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck and improve their blueline depth, they may have to part ways with young Necas.
The 23-year-old Czech center has experienced a slump this season, scoring 40 points in 78 games. A former first-round pick, 12th overall in 2017, he’s a skilled playmaker and doesn’t seem to have reached his full offensive potential. An astute GM could take advantage of the complex salary situation of the Carolina team to get Necas.
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