Friday, August 29, 2008

The Meszaros Offer Sheet

Yesterday Adam Proteau of The Hockey News reported that Andrej Meszaros has agreed to an offer sheet with an undisclosed NHL team. Meszaros is an Ottawa Senator defenceman who has been unable to come to terms with the Sens this summer. He is a restricted free agent. So far, we have no confirmation of this story on the traditional hockey news sites such as nhl.com or tsn.ca. In fact, we have denials that any offer sheet is done yet.

It appears that the Tampa Bay Lightning are the team interested in Meszaros and they agreed to terms with him on an offer sheet in excess of $5 million per year. Tampa has a rather weak group of defencemen, with Matt Carle, Filip Kuba, Shane O'Brien and Paul Ranger likely making up their top four. Such a move would make sense, except that it is not allowed. The compensation for signing a player with a salary in the ballpark Meszaros would get is the first, second and third round draft picks of the Lightning in 2009. The problem is Tampa Bay no longer has their third round draft pick. They traded it to Pittsburgh in order to gain negotiating rights with Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts. In order to make this deal, Tampa must somehow re-acquire that pick. Given the fact that they need the Lightning pick so badly, Pittsburgh may not let it go at a reasonable price. Further, Ottawa may make an offer for the pick to prevent the deal.

It appears that new Tampa owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie were either caught unaware of the rule or disregarded it. If they sign Meszaros how much can the NHL do to prevent the move? It is possible that this case could wind up in arbitration. It is a bit ridiculous that a restricted free agent signing can be prevented solely because of a seemingly unrelated third round draft pick. These kinds of complications from a CBA should not exist.

This Tampa Bay offer sheet would make both the Proteau report and the denials correct. Tampa would have agreed to an offer sheet with Meszaros, but no offer sheet is on file with the NHL because Tampa is prevented from such a move since they lack a third round draft pick. Tampa Bay has maverick new owners who are trying to play by their own rules, but the NHL won't let them neglect the rules of the league. I think we will see further conflict develop as a result of this situation.

NOTE: We have a resolution to this situation as Tampa Bay has traded for Meszaros. They sent Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and the first round draft pick they obtained from San Jose in the Dan Boyle trade. Tampa then signed Meszaros to a six year contract. Here is the TSN story on the trade.

Comments:
1)We would have to think that IF TB is the team that has supposedly made the offer AND they don't have the required picks as outlined by the CBA the NHL would simply nix the deal as they can/do to trades/contracts that might prohibit league rules
2) Its this reason that we don't think the team involved is TB. As much as we agree that they would benefit from such a deal. Its more likely a team with the necessary compensation already, OR this might simply be a negotiating ploy by the Meszaros camp?
 
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