For the first time in 15 years, the NHL free agent market is beginning to grow a new dimension.
Restricted free agents are now fair game.
With the Philadelphia Flyers' 14-year, $110 million offer sheet for Nashville Predators' RFA Shea Weber hitting the airwaves Thursday, the league's unspoken dam on offer sheets may have just been broken.
Since 1997, only eight RFAs have signed offer sheets during the offseason and only once has the player's original team not matched that contract. Now, 2012 has the potential to become the 'Year of the Offer Sheet'—and at least one of those could be directed towards the Flyers themselves.
If Weber's signing goes through, Philadelphia will stand approximately $50,000 over the salary cap with four RFAs left to sign.
One of those four is 22-year-old Jakub Voracek, a former seventh-overall pick who has missed just nine total games over his four-year career and tallied more than 45 points for three seasons running.
At only 22, his upside seems through the roof, and, even now, his playmaking skills are of clear-cut top-six caliber.
He's also due for a significant raise over the $2.25 million he made last season, but there's just one problem—Philadelphia might not be able to pay that much.
Any team that does sign Voracek away from the Flyers this summer would have to surrender some compensation—based on his projected value, that could well be both a first- and third-round pick in 2013—but, for a player of Voracek's ability, those rules shouldn't be much of a deterrent.
Hence, as the UFA market grows slimmer and slimmer by the day, a number of NHL teams could turn towards RFA Jakub Voracek as the unheralded solution to their playmaking problems.