Monday, June 22, 2015

The Dougie Hamilton Offer Sheet

There's a lot of chatter out there in the interwebs about how much trouble the Boston Bruins are in, when it comes to how much space they have against the salary cap ceiling. On Tuesday, they find out just how much trouble they are in, as the salary cap ceiling number is to be made official.

A lot of teams are smelling blood in the water, as they start to circle around some of the team's prized free agents, namely defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who is up for restricted free agency this Summer.

Hamilton is a budding superstar on the back end and at 22 years old, he is on the cusp of getting into the prime of his career.  He has the talent to work the scoresheet offensively and he has the size to do it in his own end of the ice, making him into the quintessential franchise defenseman.  A prize, which has a lot of teams licking their chops.

By my own guesstimation, thanks to the online salary cap websites that now exist, I have the early Summer cap figure in for the Bruins at $61.2 million, with only 15 players signed on: nine forwards, four defensemen and a goalie tandem.  Last year's salary cap ceiling for 23 players was only $69 million and the early indication that the 5% increase may not be entirely the case, leaving the Bruins very little to work with for five to eight players to sign.

Enter the offer sheet.  Once free agency hits, teams do have the chance to negotiate with restricted free agents, but the first line of defense for the team with the rights to these players is the offer sheet.  An offer sheet is the definition of what the player and a new team has agreed to as the base salary for a deal, but the team with the rights can either decide to accept those terms in the offer sheet or relinquish the rights for a measured compensation.  Not only does the team negotiating with the player have to pay the player the agreed upon dollar amount, but it does have to offer up draft picks in compensation, which have to be their own, in order to do so.

For a quick guide to values and compensation, click here.

How feasible is an offer sheet to Hamilton?  Well, let's consider the market and we'll base it solely on scoring, as the intangibles and some of the other statistics can really muck up the basic look.

When I generally look at market value, it is generally age, give or take a year, so 21-to-23, scoring the season previous, give or take 5 points and then his position.  It truly seems like negotiations are based on the 'what have you done for me lately' mindset, where the numbers from the season previous are all that counts.  That may not be exactly the case, but it sure seems like it.

So, Hamilton, at age 22, picked up 42 points in 72 games last year from the blueline, so we'll draw some comparables from there.

Here we find a couple of direct hits, given the parameters of the search and it draws up some great comparables, namely Arizona's Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who now runs the show on the Coyotes' blueline for next season and last season's rookie standout from Dallas, John Klingberg.

2014-2015 Season 2016
Age Team GP P PPG Cap Hit
Dougie Hamilton 22 BOS 72 42 0.583 RFA
Oliver Ekman-Larsson 23 ARI 82 43 0.524 $5.5 million
John Klingberg 22 DAL 65 40 0.615 $4.25 million

There is a competitive edge to the buyout as well, let's not forget.  Teams who are signing these players to potential deals, also want to step to the edge of extreme difficulty for the team that has the rights to first refusal, in this case, the Bruins.

Let's say the Bruins, after the salary cap number is announced, still have $10 million left in cap space for five players, that isn't a lot of money per body left.  If a team was to sign Hamilton to a deal worth $5.4 million per season, one or two years in term, that would put the Bruins in a world of hurt if they matched and the offering team would only have to give a 1st and a 3rd round pick next season.

If the offering team was to really shoot for the moon, they would be giving up a 1st, 2nd & 3rd round pick to get the job done, which does become awfully expensive, but in this world, where franchise defensemen don't exactly grow on trees (they become them), three chances at a possible star for a bona fide, paid for star, doesn't seem out of the question.

What do you offer or how high does it have to go before the Bruins say, "we'll take the picks?"

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