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New offer-sheet compensation values could affect the Leafs (if teams used offer-sheets)

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Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 month ago
On Tuesday Capfriendly shared the 2024 offer-sheet compensation rates for restricted free agents. The rules for offer-sheets are fairly simple in that clubs can make offers to restricted free agents and the club that currently holds that player’s rights has seven days to decide whether or not to sign the player at that rate. During that time they can’t trade the player. And if the player or club has elected for salary arbitration, the player is ineligible for an offer sheet. Additionally, the picks used most be those originally owned by club making the offer.
When it comes to how this affects the Leafs, the short answer is that it minimally affects them. The Leafs presently hold no picks in the first three rounds of the 2025 draft, let alone ones that originally belonged to the Leafs. Unless they reacquire one of their picks, offer-sheeting players is not something they can do.
The other way it could impact the Leafs is if teams offer-sheet their players.
The most significant restricted free agent the Leafs have this summer is Timothy Liljegren. He also has arbitration rights so the Leafs or Liljegren electing for arbitration ends all possibility that he is an issue. Presumably Liljegren would have fallen into the 3rd round pick compensation or possibly the 2nd round pick compensation depending on the contract term being discussed. A 3rd round pick for Liljegren might sting a little but it is possible the Leafs would entertain a 2nd round pick. Still, it seems like a non-issue and a team with defensive issues probably shouldn’t be quick to give up on a solid/possibly cheap RD option that could benefit from a new coach.
The only non-arbitration eligible restricted free agent the Leafs have is Nick Robertson and the contract the Leafs would probably prefer to offer him would fall in the no compensation category, but if another team attempted that, it is likely the Leafs would bite the bullet and match. To let Robertson walk it would likely require a team offer something in the 3rd round pick compensation range and that is where the debate gets interesting.
Like Liljegren, Robertson might benefit from a fresh start under a new head coach. Unlike Liljegren, there isn’t likely to be a lineup spot held for Robertson and he’d be competing to get into the Leafs lineup on a regular basis. It’s not hard to see the Leafs willingly walk away from an injury prone former 2nd round pick in exchange for a 3rd round pick. What is difficult is seeing another club wanting Robertson enough to give up a third-round pick for him.
At the end of the day there really isn’t much here for the Leafs. They can’t make offers, and nobody is likely to make them. This is pretty much the status quo for restricted free agency anyway and at best we’ll see one or two teams use an offer-sheet in the summer.
There is some hope the NHL could be more interesting given that it isn’t the greatest unrestricted free agent crop and with the salary cap going up there is more money to throw around. And if you look at a team like Utah that is sitting on a mountain of cap space and draft picks, there is some potential they could be an interesting team to watch when it comes to offer-sheets this summer.

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