Thursday, 3 July 2008

A 2008 RFA Moment

As brought to you in a way that only the Vancouver Canucks can.

I think Backes is an okay player, and maybe making him an RFA offer is a workable idea, but what was Gillis thinking?

The Canucks are in for a world of hurt with this guy.


Look. If you are going to make an RFA offer there are several rules (admittedly mine) to follow:

1. Maximize your timing.

This means you don't make the offer when the other team:

.a. is flush with cash (the most important factor);
.b. has lots of time to think about it;
.c. is already committed to that player in their roster build

2. Maximize your opponents opportunity to make a mistake.

This means you offer an amount that minimizes your loss while maximizing their requirement to agonize over the decision. Please read my post on the Penner signing - for some it will be new and for others it will be a refresher.

This also involves waiting for the opposing team to pass certain deadlines... like the filing for arbitration deadline lets say. Just to say of course.

3. Maximize the value of your decision.

If the player you are targeting is a player you would trade 'x' draft picks for then your offer should be as close to that, in terms of RFA compensation, as you can get without crossing into a higher cost bracket.

If the player you are targeting is on a team that is vulnerable (see also #1 above) then pitch an underpriced bid, but don't kid yourself, once you do that you aren't looking to make an acquisition - you are looking to cause pain.

The difference in those two positions is important.



Gillis broke all the rules. And not in the good way.

It was an ill-timed offer with just enough weight to piss off the target yet not enough to make them (St. Louis) think seriously about it. St. Louis was never put in a position to make a bad decision and so they didn't.

Finally, because the deal doesn't make sense it comes off as being opportunistic, or worse yet - a rookie mistake - rather than a business deal and leaves Gillis in the unenviable position of being a GM fewer GM's now think they can trust to do business with.

A lot of GM's won't care. Some will. That is bad.

If Gillis had been smart about it he would have let Backes know he was interested and then waited until St. Louis had started extending its bank account. Then, if St. Louis was vulnerable, make the 2.5 offer. Depending on how vulnerable they are you just may get your guy.

If serious about Backes as a player however, then offer $2.80 and go for 4 or 5 years. At this price point St. Louis has to decide if a 1st and a 3rd is worth it. Where a 2nd round pick isn't even worth thinking about a 1st rounder automatically garners attention.

Either way - Gillis wins. St. Louis is now a) paying a lot for a guy they can barely afford to pay the cash to now or b) Gillis gets his guy.

Here's the thing... is Backes even that good? Wth?



Here is a decent RFA bid that teams just missed out on:

Riley Cote

You may think I am crazy but Cote is a decent fighter and lest no one was looking Philly just signed him for 3 years at 550k a year. Next time you hear of a team that says it needs a fighter... there was one there for the asking.

Philly is in tight and would have had to look for LTIR relief (Hatcher) or trade. An offer of 850k a year to Cote, and thus avoiding compensatory draft picks, would have been enough to make them sweat, blink or both.

Here is a better RFA bid that teams are missing out on:

Boyd Gordon

The guy has great underlying numbers and it shouldn't be a secret that Washington started to play better when he came back from injury (wasn't all Huet). Per Desjardins, the 06-07 numbers are great and 07-08 dipped, a bit, due to injury.

Washington will be tight to the Cap this year and would have to decide to match on Gordon, and so pass on UFA's, or use his dollars to fill roster spots. Gordon is worth the money and worth the draft picks ; an offer of ~ $3.00 a year would be strategic and smart.

Here are two more RFA's that might be cheap, worthwhile, signings:

Patrick Thoreson and Jaroslav Halak

If you are a GM who absolutely knows he/she needs a good 4th line player who can pick up 3rd line minutes then what is not to like about a guy like Thoreson?

Halak is inching towards 'elite back-up' status, if you need goaltending why would you ever let Montreal have him for cheap? Heck - as a competitor - why?

Make Philly and Montreal pay. And make yourself stronger at the same time.

Finally, I also really like Freddy Sjostrom, Nigel Dawes and Danny Fritsche. The latter two have great upside and Sjostrom is a decent steady eddie.

Come to think about it - the Rangers are ripe for plundering given their closeness to the Cap.


Have a great evening everyone.

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