NHL Free Agent Rumors: Offer Sheets; Who Gets One and for How Much?

Mark Della Posta@markdellapostaContributor IIIJune 6, 2011

NHL Free Agent Rumors: Offer Sheets; Who Gets One and for How Much?

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    Since the end of the lockout, a number of big name restricted free agents have received and signed offer sheets.

    Offering a contract to a restricted free agent is no small matter however. Not only does a GM usually have to shell out big dollars, but he must also be prepared to fork over draft picks. 

    The practice is often marked with an uproar of media attention and criticism.

    You can thank Brian Burke for that.

    Although we haven't seen a significant offer sheet in quite some time, this summer may bring with it a flurry of activity.

    A number of top quality RFAs are set to hit the market.

    For the sake of a good read, I'm going to play to part of rumor monger and try to guess which players are most likely to receive offer sheets come July 1.

    Here are the five restricted free agents most likely to be wooed away from their teams in the offseason.

    (Keep in mind that this is purely speculation)

Keith Yandle

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    The Coyotes' financial troubles are well documented.

    With the NHL currently owning the team, it's unlikely that the Yotes will receive the green light and spend like gangbusters this offseason.

    With that being said, their ability to resign their star defenseman is questionable at best.

    Yandle made $1.2 million last season. He then finished third in scoring amongst defensemen with a team that doesn't exactly have the power play weapons that benefited Lidstrom and Vishnovksy (the two men that finished ahead of him).

    At 24, Yandle is entering his prime and looks to be cementing his place as one of the league's best offensive D-men.

    The only chance that the Yotes have of resigning this guy is giving him the $6 million that Jovanovski made last year. Despite Jovo's contract coming off the books however, it's questionable whether or not the league will allow the Coyotes to continue spending that kind of money.

    Where will he go?

    Two possible destinations come to mind.

    Detroit is the first possibility. What better way is there to replace an offensive defenseman like Rafalski then by signing a guy like Yandle? The Wings would get younger, faster and better for similar money.

    The second possible team offering Yandle a deal is the Boston Bruins. The Kaberle experiment seems to be failing and the Bruins will need a guy to help anchor their sub-par power play.

    They have some money available, considering they don't resign Kaberle, and have enough in their system to sacrifice the picks needed to make the deal happen.

Shea Weber

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    Shea Weber used to 2010-11 season to cement himself as one of the premier defensemen in the league.

    He helped lead an offensively challenged Nashville Predators to the second round for the first time in franchise history.

    He's demonstrated an ability to play a physically imposing game, impressive durability for a man of his talents, and a cannon from the point that would rival the most lethal point men of all time.

    Unfortunately for the Predators, Weber could very well be snatched from right under their noses this summer.

    Weber made $4.5 million last season and is in line for a big raise. Based on his importance to the Predators, his superior defensive abilities and significant offensive contributions, Weber could very well earn a $6.5 to $7 million contract.

    This is all the more fathomable when you consider that D-men the like Brian Campbell, Jay Bouwmeester, and Dan Boyle are within that range.

    The fact that the Preds are cash strapped is no secret either.

    According to Forbes magazine, the Predators are near the bottom of the league in franchise value and player expenses.

    Considering that the Preds have to re-sign top scorer Sergei Kostitsyn, and that Mathew Lombardi (who missed much of last season) will be healthy, thus making his contract count against the cap, the Predators may not have the ability to meet Weber's salary demands.

    Where will he go?

    One destination immediately comes to mind: Detroit.

    With Rafalski retiring, and Lidstrom possible joining him, the Wings have plenty of cap space available and a major hole on defense. Weber would be a great fit and allow for the Wings to maintain their level of excellence for yet another generation.

Brandon Dubinsky/Ryan Callahan

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    These two both had a very good year with the Rangers this past season.

    Both players emerged as leaders and go-to players on their club as they finished the year No. 1 and No. 2 on their team in points.

    They're both spectacular two-way players and are capable of hovering around the 30 goal mark.

    Dubinsky finished the year well over 50 percent in faceoffs, while Callahan dished out 224 hits in only 60 games.

    They're also both in line for big-time money this summer.

    Dubinsky is coming off a contract that paid him $1.85 million, while Callahan was paid $2.3 million.

    Considering that Chris Drury is making $7 million, and that two-way forwards such as Thomas Plekanec and Patrice Bergeron are hovering around the $5 million mark, it's safe to assume that Dubinsky and Callahan won't come cheap.

    A number of reports claim that Rangers GM Glen Sather is interested in Brad Richards, who will undoubtedly go for something in the $6.5 to $7 million dollar range.

    With the Rangers close to the cap as it is, signing Richards, Callahan and Dubinsky is impossible.

    Where will they go?

    When it comes to these two, I could easily see the Kings offering one of them a contract.

    Firstly, after Kopitar, they're rather weak at center. Dubinsky would be a good fit as their No. 2. Callahan would also provide some of the nastiness that has been missing from this team.

    Secondly, they've got plenty of young players coming up the pipe, so GM Dean Lombardi could afford to send some in New York's direction.

    Finally, outside of Richards, there isn't much in the way of offensive talent on the UFA market this season, so Lombardi may be pressured to make a move.

Zach Parise

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    The Devils have put themselves in a very tough spot.

    After signing Kovalchuk and Volchenkov to very lucrative deals last summer, there isn't much money left to sign one of their premier players.

    Prior to last season, where Parise played only 13 games due to injury, the young American had scored over 30 goals for four straight years, including 45 in 2008-09.

    Rather than go after a bonafide No. 1 center to further compliment their star, the Devils went after a high scoring winger.

    Parise's cap hit for last season was a paltry $3.125 million. Double that and you should get what Parise will earn next year.

    Whether or not the Devlis can offer him that is another story all together.

    As previously mentioned, New Jersey is right up against the cap, and there aren't any big contracts coming off the books (other than Parise's).

    Also, it shouldn't be discounted that Parise may feel a bit slighted by the Kovy signing. Rather than get a player to compliment his skills, the Devils went out and got a new guy to be "the man". They got a player who commands the spotlight and directs the flow of play.

    Parise may not even want to return to Jersey.

    Where will he go?

    L.A. and St Louis seem like the two most likely teams to offer Parise a contract.

    As mentioned in the earlier slide, the Kings need help up front and have the cap space and picks to make a deal happen.

    The Blues meanwhile, have been looking to break out of the Western Conference's doghouse for quite some time. Outside of Chris Stewart, they don't have any bonafide first line forwards. They are way under the cap and should be ready to make a big move.

    Seeing as though this year's UFA market is thin on first line talent, they may make a strong push for Parise.