NHL announces 2022 offer sheet compensation tiers

Offer sheets are still a rare option employed by teams to acquire players. Last season, however, we saw a an offer sheet tendered by the Carolina Hurricanes to Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, in retaliation to the Hurricanes tendering Sebastian Aho in 2019. Before those shenanigans though, the last offer sheet signed was nine years ago in 2013 when the Calgary Flames tendered an offer to Ryan O’Reilly (then playing for the Colorado Avalanche).

What is an NHL offer sheet and how does it work?

If you’re unfamiliar with how offer sheets work, CapFriendly has an excellent FAQ on the offer sheet process. Basically, a player who is a restricted free agent can sign a contract with any other team in the NHL. Then, the team that currently owns the player’s rights can choose to either match the contract or not.

If they match the offer, they retain the services of that player under the contract they signed with the other team. If they decline to match the offer, the original team receives compensation from the new team based on the AAV of the contract. In most cases, teams choose to match the offer sheet and the compensation is not a factor. Compensation picks must be the team’s original draft picks, not other picks acquired via trade or otherwise.

The compensation tiers change each year based on a number of factors, but a major one is the average player salary in the previous year. Last year we saw a decrease in the compensation tiers due to the average player salary being lower than the year prior. However, as reported by Elliotte Friedman, compensation tiers have increased for the 2022 offseason.

2021 versus 2022 offer sheet compensation tiers

2021 AAV Tier2022 AAV TierUpper AAV ChangeCompensation
$1 – $1,356,540$1 – $1,386,490$29,950No Compensation
$1,356,540 – $2,055,364$1,386,490 – $2,100,742$45,3781 Third-Round Pick
$2,055,364 – $4,110,732$2,100,742 – $4,201,488$90,7561 Second-Round Pick
$4,110,732 – $6,166,096$4,201,488 – $6,302,230$136,1341 First-Round Pick
1 Third-Round Pick
$6,166,096 – $8,221,463$6,302,230 – $8,402,975$181,5121 First-Round Pick
1 Second-Round Pick
1 Third-Round Pick
$8,221,463 – $10,276,829$8,402,975 – $10,503,720$226,8912 First-Round Picks
1 Second-Round Pick
1 Third-Round Pick
$10,279,829 – ∞$10,503,720 – ∞4 First-Round Picks

As you can see in the table above, the compensation has increased across all tiers. At the very highest tier, the upper AAV is down by over $225k, which is a small number, but could affect the many teams who are pressed up against the salary cap ceiling.

Which players could be targets of offer sheets in 2022?

Offer sheets almost never happen, for a multitude of reasons. However, when they do happen, they are usually a very big deal and have major impacts on the teams involved. One of the most interesting offer sheet stories is with Scott Stevens, who was involved in multiple offer sheets in the 1990s.

According to CapFriendly, there are 297 players who will be restricted free agents when their contracts expire this season. Big names that could be signed to an offer sheet include Matthew Tkachuk, Kevin Fiala, Jason Robertson, Andrew Mangiapane, Jake Oettinger, Patrik Laine, and Pierre-Luc Dubois.

There are many, many more intriguing names on the list, and with cap space being hard to come by, it’s very possible we see more offer sheets this season than we have in a very long time.

Free agency 2022 could be a lot of fun.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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