Capitals general manager George McPhee has a message for rival general managers who might consider meddling with restricted free agents Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson:
“We would always match,” McPhee said when asked what he’d do if another team tried luring Alzner or Johansson with an offer sheet. “I’m not going to allow other clubs to determine who’s in our lineup and who’s not in our lineup. We would match and adjust in another way.”
The most famous offer sheet in Caps history came in the summer of 1990 when the St. Louis Blues signed defenseman Scott Stevens to a four-year, $5.1 million offer sheet. The Caps opted not to match the offer and received two first-round picks they turned into defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Brendan Witt.
Since 1997, when the Flyers signed Chris Gratton to an offer sheet, there have been 10 offer sheets tendered to restricted free agents. All but one were matched by the original clubs. Philadelphia and Edmonton each has attempted the strategy twice in the past seven years but only the Oilers succeeded, landing Dustin Penner from the Ducks in 2007.
“Some teams might do it,” McPhee said. “Teams get desperate sometimes and do that sort of thing and it almost never works. But some teams might do it this summer.
“We’ve never done it. I think if you’re drafting and developing well you don’t have to do it. Most of the clubs that do that sort of thing are a little desperate and you have three or four desperate clubs every summer. But I’ve never done it and I don’t anticipate doing it. It just drives up costs. It’s not our style.”
Alzner, 27, earned $1.27 million last season, and carries a qualifying offer of the same amount. Johansson, 22, earned $900,000 and, because of signing bonuses, requires a qualifying offer of $850,500. Both qualifying offers have been made by the Caps, retaining the rights of both players.
“We’d like to get them done as soon as we can get them done and get another thing off your desk,” McPhee said. “Sometimes it takes more time than you want or anticipated but that’s the process.”