Hostile offers are extremely rare in the National Hockey League (NHL): since 2010, five general managers have dared to woo a restricted free agent whose rights belonged to another team, and this strategy has proven successful only once .
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No need to remind Montreal Canadiens fans that the player the Carolina Hurricanes had their hands on in this way was Jesperi Kotkaniemi, in 2021.
This season, around 100 athletes will become free agents with compensation as of July 13. Here are five potential candidates for a hostile offer in the NHL:
1- Jake Oettinger – Dallas Stars
Quality goaltenders are rare in the Bettman circuit, and several teams like the Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs are still in dire need between the posts. Oettinger was brilliant in the playoffs, posting a .954 save percentage in seven games.
The Stars have just over $18 million of wiggle room under the cap, but need to settle the Jason Robertson case and potentially find a replacement for John Klingberg, who will soon be free as air. It would be very surprising if the Texas team let go of its former first-round pick, but a hostile offer could force the Stars to grant him a huge contract.
2- Rasmus Sandin – Toronto Maple Leafs
After yet another playoff failure, the Maple Leafs are still stuck under the salary cap and won’t be able to keep all of their players who need a new deal, including Jack Campbell, Ilya Mikheyev and Ilya Lyubushkin. Young fullback Rasmus Sandin could then pique the curiosity of some teams.
A knee injury sidelined him late in the season and he was sidelined by Sheldon Keefe in the spring. The Swede, who shone in 2020 at the World Junior Hockey Championship, has collected 16 points in 51 games this season.
A mobile left-handed defender, he could benefit from a fresh start. A $4 million offer for one season would only cost an aggressive GM a second-round pick.
3- Andrew Mangiapane – Calgary Flames
Matthew Tkachuk is arguably one of the most coveted restricted free agents on the league, but a gargantuan hostile offer would be needed to convince the Flames to lose one of their best forwards this way. Johnny Gaudreau will also be in the priority files of the Alberta team, he who is an unrestricted free agent.
In the shadow of his attackers, however, snuggles Mangiapane, who hatched offensively by scoring 35 goals, hitting the mark on 18.9% of his shots. He had scored as many goals in the previous two seasons combined; it is therefore not impossible that he is unable to maintain his cadence.
The small Toronto forward is however considered a Swiss army knife and is only 26 years old. A team could take advantage of the Flames’ difficult situation to offer Mangiapane a hostile offer, but would at least have to pay him an annual salary of $6 million to force the Alberta organization to accept the compensation, which would consist of a choice of first round and a third round selection.
4 – Jesper Bratt – New Jersey Devils
The Devils will definitely be aiming for a playoff spot next year, and Bratt should be an integral part of their success. He more than doubled his career-best production in 2021-22 with 73 points.
Some rumors, however, send Johnny Gaudreau – a forward cast in the same mold as him – to New Jersey if he decides to test the free agent market. If so, that could open the door to another roster that covets Bratt. At 23, the Swedish winger already has 203 points in 307 games, but has only played in one playoff game.
5 – Martin Necas – Carolina Hurricanes
The “Canes” will have to make difficult decisions in the coming days. If they want to extend their marriage to veterans Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck and improve their blueline depth, they might have to part ways with youngster Necas.
The 23-year-old Czech pivot has experienced a downturn this season, scoring 40 points in 78 games. A former first-round pick, 12th overall in 2017, he’s a skilled playmaker and doesn’t seem to have reached his full offensive potential. A shrewd GM could take advantage of the Carolina team’s complex salary situation to get his hands on Necas.