Shea Weber and the 10 Craziest Free-Agent Offer Sheets Ever Extended

John B MathesonCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2012

Shea Weber and the 10 Craziest Free-Agent Offer Sheets Ever Extended

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    This summer NHL fans got to see what happens when a team says they will match any offer for a specific player.

    Nashville GM David Poile had stated that he would match any offer sent to top defenseman Shea Weber. So when Philadelphia came knocking, Poile backed up his statement.

    It was not the first time that a crazy offer sheet had been extended to a player, and in most cases they were met. In fact only one in the last decade had not been.

    Since offer sheets became a viable alternative to obtaining a free agent, there have been some interesting ones sent out, from those that bore a hefty price tag to those that made people scratch their heads in confusion.

    In the slides that follow we’ll take a look at some of the craziest offer sheets that were extended to free agents over the years. 

Shea Weber: $110 Million for 14 Years

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    Starting off with the largest offer sheet ever extended: This past summer Philadelphia sent an offer sheet to one of the most sought-after defensemen in the league.

    Shea Weber signed an offer sheet for $110 million over 14 years. The contract is heavily front-loaded with bonuses for Weber.

    The 26-year-old is owed $27 million this season and $68 million over the first six, according to the TSN breakdown.

    It could be the last time that an offer sheet like this is extended as the new CBA may put an end to deals like this one.

    Predators GM David Poile is no stranger to the offer sheet. In fact this July marked the 20-year anniversary of the last big offer sheet Poile had to deal with: Scott Stevens.

    It did not help Philadelphia that Nashville had already lost their other top defender when Ryan Suter signed with Minnesota.

    Not wanting to be pushed around by teams with larger bankrolls—or sending a message to the locker room that Nashville would only spend so much on a player they deemed valuable—the Predators met the offer sheet.

    Philadelphia had been hoping that the front-loaded bonuses would shy Poile away, but after watching what Stevens did in New Jersey after Washington let him leave 20 years ago. Poile was not going to make the same mistake. 

Teemu Selanne: $2.7 Million for Three Years

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    Now that Teemu Selanne is in his 40s and has tossed around the retirement debate, which he decided to push off at least one more season, it is hard to think that the Finnish Flash was almost never a Jet.

    Back in 1992, Selanne had yet to make his debut in the NHL because he had Finnish Army service to perform. The Calgary Flames put in an offer sheet to the Jets’ first-round draft pick from 1988.

    The deal was worth $400,000 for a three-year term with a signing bonus of $1.5 million. Winnipeg matched the offer according to The Winnipeg Free Press, and to this day fans are glad that the Jets did.

    Currently there are no players making that little money, but back in 1992 that was rare for a rookie skater, let alone one who had yet to play an actual NHL game.

    It marked the first time a player who had not played in the NHL was extended an offer sheet, but it would not be the last.

Mattias Ohlund: $17.5 Million for Five Years

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    Mattias Ohlund was drafted 13th overall back in 1994 by the Vancouver Canucks. Rather than begin his career in the NHL right away, he opted to spend more time in the Swedish League, Elitserien.

    This was due mainly to a dispute over his contract with the Canucks.

    By 1997 Ohlund had yet to play a game in the NHL when the Toronto Maple Leafs signed him to an offer-sheet that, according to CNN at the time, was worth $10 million over five years.

    What makes this crazy was that this was the first time a restricted free agent—who had yet to play in the NHL—received an offer and signing bonus of this size.

    It was worth $7.5 million for Ohlund to sign with the Leafs.

    Vancouver would match this offer, and it would begin years of bad blood between the two clubs.

Niklas Hjalmarsson: $14 Million for Four Years

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    During the summer of 2010 the Chicago Blackhawks were still riding high from winning the Stanley Cup when they were brought back down by the San Jose Sharks.

    The Blackhawks were already close to the salary cap when San Jose sent an offer sheet to the young defenseman: Niklas Hjalmarsson.

    According to NHL.com, the offer sheet was worth $3.5 million over four years.

    At 23 years old, Hjalmarsson was finishing up a contract that had been worth $666,000. Needless to say, it was a large pay increase for the blueliner.

    Chicago did not hesitate to match the offer, but in doing so they pushed themselves closer to the ceiling. What made matters more interesting was that they still had to re-sign another restricted free agent Antti Niemi.

    Niemi would go to arbitration and win a deal worth $2.75 million, a price tag Chicago could not match. This would cause Niemi to become an unrestricted free agent.

    Oddly enough, the Finnish goaltender would wind up signing a deal with… San Jose. 

Scott Stevens and Brendan Shanahan

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    These two were lumped together as one odd deal as their combined offer sheets would end up intertwining.

    Back in 1990 the St. Louis Blues had become a major player in the free-agent market, aggressively going after talent.

    They sent Scott Stevens, then playing for the Washington Capitals, an offer sheet that was worth $5.1 million over four years, at the time a record offer for a defenseman, according to SB Nation.

    The GM at the time in Washington was none other than David Poile; he was forced to let Stevens go to St. Louis in return for five first-round draft picks.

    The following year St. Louis was at it again; this time they targeted New Jersey Devils star Brendan Shanahan.

    According to Yahoo! Blogger Greg Wyshynski, the Devils had offered the 22-year-old Shanahan a new deal worth $700,000.

    St. Louis would blow that deal away when they sent the young winger an offer sheet worth $5 million for four years.

    This deal would end up costing St. Louis the player that had the year before cost them five first-round draft picks, Scott Stevens.

    Both offer sheets were much higher than either player could have expected, yet oddly enough they would not wind up playing together.

Scott Stevens: $17 Million for Four Years

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    Once more this defender was given a crazy offer sheet, at least for the time.

    As Scott Stevens deal with New Jersey was coming to an end in 1994, the team that had originally granted him the deal that was expiring tried once more to obtain his skills.

    The St. Louis Blues sent Steven an offer sheet worth $17 million over four years. Again this was a high amount for a player, let alone a defenseman back in 1994.

    Just when you thought this was going to be a fairly straightforward offer sheet, the plot thickens.

    New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello claimed that the president of the Blues at the time, Jack Quinn, had been involved in tampering with Stevens before his contract was set to expire.

    In the 1999 article in the NY Daily News, it explained the offer that was made, and the decision NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made when the Blues finally turned over the offer sheet dated before July 1.

    Even though New Jersey would match the offer, they were awarded $1.43 million and a first-round draft pick from St. Louis for the tampering.

Petr Nedved

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    In 1994 the Vancouver Canucks were embroiled in a heated contract debate with star player Petr Nedved.

    The 22-year-old centre had yet to play for the Canucks that season when St. Louis came knocking in March. The Blues offered Nedved a four-year deal worth an annual $4.05 million as explained in Sports Illustrated back in March 1994.

    In accordance with the league's free-agency policy back then, the two teams had to come to an agreement for compensation.

    Vancouver wanted Brendan Shanahan, while St. Louis offered up Craig Janney and a second-round pick.

    The two clubs went to arbitration, where St. Louis would end up winning twice.

    First the arbitrator sided with the Blues and sent Janney and the second-round pick to Vancouver, second the Blues had 11 days to utilize both Nedved and the compensation player.

    Vancouver was not the only team crying foul, and the free-agency policy was ratified shortly there after.

Dustin Penner: $21.5 Million for Five Years

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    In 2007 it was the Edmonton Oilers making waves as they sent out multiple offer sheets, including the one sent to then 24-year-old Dustin Penner.

    Penner had only been on the Anaheim Ducks full time for one season where he excelled alongside linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

    Penner ranked second, behind Teemu Selanne for points in his rookie year and helped win the Stanley Cup that year as well.

    Edmonton took the chance, knowing that Anaheim was strapped for cash and offered Penner a five-year deal worth $4.25 million per season, as stated by CBC.

    This offer sheet caused Ducks GM Brian Burke to go ballistic; in fact in an interview with The Score, Burke explains that he and then Oilers GM Kevin Lowe nearly got into fisticuffs.

    You can also read what was talked about in the interview here from the Edmonton Journal article.

    Edmonton wound up trading Penner in 2011 to Los Angeles, much to the pleasure of Oilers fans.

Joe Sakic: $21 Million for Three Years

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    Thinking back on Joe Sakic, it is hard to think of him as anything but a Nordique or Avalanche.

    Sakic played his entire career for the club that originated in Quebec City.

    In 1997 it almost came to pass that Joe Sakic would don a New York Rangers jersey. The Rangers had just lost their captain Mark Messier to Vancouver and needed a replacement.

    They offered Sakic a three-year deal worth $21 million. The breakdown, explained by the New York Times, showed that Sakic would make $2 million a year with a $15 million signing bonus.

    The signing bonus nowadays does not seem to be that outrageous, but in the late '90s, it was unheard of.

    The Avalanche were in a precarious position as they had recently re-signed Peter Forsberg to a deal that would pay him $4 million in 1997-98 and $5 million in 1998-99.

    It was reported that president and CEO of Madison Square Garden—the company that owns the Rangers—Dave Checketts had decided to go after Sakic as he knew the Avalanche were broke.

    Regardless, the Avalanche would match the deal and retain Sakic; it would result in the two clubs exchanging words. It would not be as public as the Ducks/Oilers fiasco.

    It was reported that when the Avalanche matched the offer former owner Charlie Lyons sent Rangers GM Neil Smith a picture of Nelson Rockefeller giving someone the middle finger.

    Links to the Rangers/Avalanche feud can be found here, from SYRangers.

Sergei Fedorov: $38 Million for Six Years

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    Back in the fall of 1997 Sergei Fedorov had begun to alienate his Detroit Red Wing teammates.

    He would eventually go on to say that he would never play for Detroit again, and by January of 1998 he signed an offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes.

    Like many of the offer sheets extended in this article, Fevorov’s was heavily front-loaded in hopes that Detroit would not match the offer. 

    In an article by Sports Illustrated, it was stated that the six-year $38 million deal included a $14 million signing bonus and $12 million more if his team made the conference finals.

    The second bonus would have favored the Hurricanes who were not poised to even make the playoffs.

    Detroit fans and the organization were so upset by the $12 million bonus, they booed Fedorov when he finally returned to play.

    Red Wing fans were so merciless in their booing that coach Scotty Bowman called a local radio station to ask them to stop. It also helped turn the fans when Fedorov scored both goals in that game.

Thomas Vanek: $50 Million for Seven Years

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    In 2007 the Oilers were desperately trying to change their fortunes, and before they extended an offer sheet to Dustin Penner, they sent one to Buffalo Sabres left winger Thomas Vanek.

    The offer sheet that was sent to Vanek was astronomical even for a few years ago and would not be surpassed until Shea Weber received his this past summer.

    The Oilers offered the Austrian-born winger a $50 million seven-year deal.

    Vanek had scored 43 goals the previous season, which the Oilers felt was enough to extend the huge offer.

    At the time Buffalo was under pressure having recently lost two of their star players: Chris Drury and Daniel Briere who signed elsewhere as unrestricted free agents. 

    The Sabres would match the offer, responding quickly to the offer sheet according to USA Today. They would not regret the decision as Vanek has not had a season under 50 points since.