Monday, September 07, 2009

Burke still after Phil Kessel

The hockey news is buzzing with news that Brian Burke is going to provide Bruin's restricted free agent Phil Kessel with an offer sheet. The speculation came about because the Leafs made a trade on the weekend to reacquire their 2010 2nd round pick from Chicago. The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement requires compensation for signing restricted free agents in the form of draft picks. The higher the value of the contract signed, the more picks that must be handed over.

Here are the offer sheet compensation tables:

$994,433 or below None
Over $994,433 to $1,506,716 3rd round choice
Over $1,506,716 to $3,013,434 2nd round choice
Over $3,013,434 to $4,520,150 1st round and 3rd round choice
Over $4,520,150 to $6,026,867 1st round, 2nd round and 3rd round choice
Over $6,026,867 to $7,533,584 Two 1st round choices, one 2nd and one 3rd round choice
Over $7,533,584 Four 1st round choices

A team must own the draft picks before making the offer sheet. The trade gives the appearance that Burke needed that 2nd round pick to sign Kessel. Kessel is looking for about $4.5 million but the Leafs would likely have to go higher to dissuade the Bruins from matching their offer and taking the Leafs' picks instead. And why wouldn't the Bruins just match the Leafs' offer? Well right now the Bruins only have about $1.7 million in cap space so that's a lot of cap space they made need to clear. However, they just might have to find it somehow.

Is Phil Kessel worth it? Most people think so. He is just turning 22 next month and scored 36 goals last season after a disappointing first two seasons in the NHL. Prior to the NHL he was a goal scoring machine for the U.S. National Under-18 team and Boston took him 5th in the 2006 Draft. The Leafs badly need a sniper and perhaps handing over these 3 picks is a smaller price than giving up a 1st round pick and Tomas Kaberle.

Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has said he will match any offer and then make trades to create cap space. Is he bluffing? Or maybe Burke is bluffing about the offer sheet and is only trying to nudge Chiarelli back to the trading table. We will soon find out.