Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames

I realize we’ve all more-or-less agreed to a moratorium on the word “epic,” but had the following events happened, it would’ve been somewhat justified.

In a nutshell:

Had the Colorado Avalanche not matched the offer sheet the Calgary Flames signed Ryan O’Reilly to, they would’ve given up first and third round picks, then had to put him on waivers.

As in, the last place team – as of today, the Columbus Blue Jackets – could’ve picked him up. For nothing. That’s because O’Reilly played in the KHL after the lockout ended, meaning to come back, he would have to clear waivers for any team picking him up (except the one that retains his rights, in this case Colorado). This is to prevent teams picking up random European players after the trade deadline.

Again: Jay Feaster, the General Manager of the Calgary Flames, made the decision to potentially cost his team two high draft picks (likely a top-10 first rounder, possibly  higher) to get Columbus a player (or whoever ended up grabbing him, because someone would) . Worse, it seems like there was no option to “sit him out for a year” as some have suggested to keep him.

The GM is on the hook here. I don’t care if the agent didn’t know, Colorado didn’t know, if nobody knew: before you pull the trigger you have to know what you’re pulling the trigger on. You’re THE GUY here. You Manage things. …Generally.

For much, much more on this, check out the piece below by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, who if you weren’t aware, is very good at his job:

And Bob McKenzie’s Twitter feed.

A more thorough look at the situation below.

Comments (32)

  1. I think it’s safe to say that he DID make an epic gaffe. The fact that he got away with it unscathed doesn’t change the fact that it was a boneheaded move.

  2. Completely tickled by this whole situation, keeps getting better every day it seems!

    If Col hadn’t matched and say Columbus claimed ROR off waivers, would the BJs be bound with the Flames’ offer, or would they have had to negotiate a new deal?

    • They deal is already done and signed so it would be the same contract as if O’Reilly had gone through normal waivers.

  3. Man, I really wish that scenario had played out just for purely comedic purposes.

  4. Just another reason why Calgary is one of the worst run organizations in the NHL.

  5. Could the Aves have claimed O’Riley off of waivers and then gotten the 2 draft picks for free?

  6. This situation and the recent Subban situation did get me and my friend wondering though, why aren’t offer sheets used more often for younger good players? Especially if you’re a team that expects to be good, i.e. the Blackhawks of Bruins, wouldn’t it be worth sacrificing a couple of your higher picks to nail down a guy like Subban?

    I honestly curious about why it doesn’t happen more, any feedback would be much appreciated.

    • There’s a couple theories I’ve seen talked about recently:
      1. If the player is good enough to be offer-sheeted, the original team is just going to match the offer anyways. A good example of this would be Shea Weber. The contract was structured so that it would be finiancially very difficult for Nashville to match the offer, but they still matched.
      2. If you accept the premise that the original team will almost always match, all you do is anger the GM of the team that has the player and possibly make future dealinigs harder with that GM.
      3. To really make sure that the original team doesn’t match, you’d need to throw ALOT of money at the player to make it really unplalatable for the original team to match. Problem there being you’re probably overpaying for the guy at that point.
      4. Continuing on the thought from #3, the higher the salary goes, the higher the cost is in draft picks if the original team doesn’t match (I can’t remember the exact structure). So you overpay to get the guy, AND give up valuable draft picks to get him.

      • I agree, generally speaking it is not beneficial to use offer sheets because the most common result is that you make a different team slightly overpay for a player, while pissing them off and maybe making yourself look bad. If you’re lucky, you might snag a player for slightly more than he’s worth, in exchange for a couple of picks. Offer sheets make a lot more sense for players making small amounts of money, but obviously a decent GM is going to match.

        That being said… I like the idea of using offer sheets to screw with the negotiations of other teams (if you’re willing to accept them doing it to you as well). Teams have to MATCH the offer sheet, so if Colorado (for example) is trying to sign ROR for a certain amount over a certain length, you can offer him a worse contract under the assumption that the other team (COL) will almost certainly NOT let go of their player. So you can hurt other teams by forcing them to sign deals that are less than ideal. In the COL/CAL situation, I think Calgary comes out ahead because they forced Colorado to sign ROR for more than he is worth, without the benefit of a long-term contract: it’s a perfect example of how you can use the offer sheet to screw with rival teams.

  7. IF this is true, which is looking more and more like the case, then that is unacceptable.

    We (it’s easier to say we) even made a trade earlier in the day for the sole purpose of giving ourselves to chance to submit a “legal” offer to RoR, but neglected to realize that RoR would have to clear waivers anyway….

  8. I need to get a new prescription for my glasses. I keep seeing Homer Simpson instead of Jay Feaster in that picture.

  9. This is great. I wish it had actually happened! The Bluejackets need a break!

  10. Amazing. i wish Colorado hadn’t matched the offer sheet so we could have watched this whole thing blow up. Would have been fascinating.

  11. There’s no source mentioned, but Dobber Hockey printed this quote, apparently from Bill Daly –

    “No, he would not be subject to waivers. He would have been under last year’s rules, but that was changed in collective bargaining.”

    • Didn’t Bob Mackenzie say that was referring to Colorado? Meaning, he just doesn’t need to clear waivers to return to Colorado, but would need to clear for any other team?

  12. wasn’t that the definition of ‘pulling a Homer’ in that nuclear power plant meltdown empisode years ago?

  13. At what point does the organization realize this team is poorly managed?

    • when they stop meddling in Hockey Ops and let the team do what they should’ve done years ago when the asset value of their star players was higher : actually rebuild? Recognizing that the team is badly managed would be a recognition that the owners and King are the very bad managers they’d be deriding.

  14. I agree that the buck ultimately does stop with Feaster in terms of making absolutely sure that the offer sheet is kosher with the RFA exemption, but I’m having an easy time having pity for his situation too: trying to operate not even in the wake of a new CBA but with just a MOU, trying to do things that are unprecedented based on new rules (the RFA exemption to waivers), and acting where those rules have ambiguous meaning in lieu of clear, guiding precedent.

    the easy answer to “why did nobody check with the NHL” could just be: nobody thought they had to or should based on their reading of the CBA MOU? In all the months and months of talk about a ROR offer sheet, how many people mentioned the dealbreaker that he’d have to go through waivers? It probably wasn’t run by the NHL because a whole bunch of very smart people didn’t consider that they had to? I guess there’s an onus on a GM to trawl through the CBA for every single possible minor technicality, but I think that onus and its expectation of responsibility is weakened when the discourse around ROR and offer sheets is dominated exclusively by the idea that he is signable. Feaster’s responsibility, but it’s a mistake that any number of GMs could have made and that wasn’t considered even a possible mistake.

    • and, even if Feaster should be righteously canned for incompetence, there’s probably a discussion to be had about the RFA exemption and offer sheets that we’re not having because we’re obsessing over the particulars of this situation. At the most basic level, why should a rule originally designed to stop teams from signing Euro UFAs after the deadline impede the process of a team trying to offer sheet an RFA who played 2 games in Europe? there seems to be a large divide between the intent of the rule and its application, which is another reason the position towards Feaster should be pity, or at least sympathy.

      • “In all the months and months of talk about a ROR offer sheet, how many people mentioned the dealbreaker that he’d have to go through waivers?”

        There were a good dozen people on twitter who pretended to have thought of it right after the Johnson article came out. Lots of smart people on twitter (in hindsight!)

        • The fact that many people missed this, or that it took “hours” for others to figure it out doesn’t excuse a massive blunder by Calgary. But really, this is just one step in a long series of missteps by Feaster. As an isolated incident, maybe you look the other way, but considering the history, you kind of have to stop and consider a change.

          • Maybe it does though. If the league didnt know and other teams didnt know how could the fact that Feaser put in the offer really mean he is the only idiot? sounded like other teams were working on offers for him and Feaster put his in first.

          • what long series of missteps? signing Hudler and Wideman? trading Bourque for Cammi? shipping off Regehr and Kotalik for young players + cap room to resign Tanguay? giving the Flames the best prospect system they’ve had in years, with the highest ceiling prospects they’ve had in a long time? trading an unsignable Erixon for prospect depth?

  15. I hope the fallout from this to be short. As a Canucks fan, I want Jay Feaster to keep managing the Flames indefinitely.

  16. on the plus side…the last few very bad days for Feaster and co. in the Flames Administration might just turn out to be positive in the long run – if Feaster can hit rock bottom in the eyes of fans, that gives him a kind of cover in doing the necessary things (trading Iginla and Kipper, mostly) that he didn’t have before. he has to be universally despised so that he has nothing more to lose and can (finally, years after the proper time) executive the necessary rebuilding measure. Jay Feaster is the Dark Knight

  17. I think if this happened ROR would have ended up with the Flames. No way the Flames would have let this go without a legal battle and i dont know if the NHL would dig in its heals agaist a team losing a player and 2 draft picks based on the new rule and the MOU for a guy who played a couple conditioning games in the KHL before the actual season started (if i recall correctly, guys like kovalchuk played a few more too)

    tough to say how it would have turned out. I wouldnt say that this is a slam dunk case for the waivers argument

    • I think Feaster could’ve very easily gotten the weight of the PA on his side, and has a fairly solid case just on the vagueness of the language in the MOU – “a” team’s RFA list vs. “the” team’s RFA list. Without any prior precedent to guide the application of this new exemption, and with basically unclear language in the rules, the spite being dumped on Feaster seems misplaced. It’s not even as easy as saying “he should’ve checked with the league!” The entire point is that there is no easy, clear interpretation of the vague MOU language, and Daly’s official NHL position would just be one of several contestable and valid interpretations. I’m not sure why it gets to be the sole authoritative interpretation of the CBA MOU – the NHL and the PA wrote the document together, and it seems completely plausible that the PA would have a different interpretation which is as valid as the NHL’s.

      It’s not like Feaster is in the position of saying “oh, Officer, I differ with your interpretation of how fast I was driving.” The language in the rule being applied is vague and temporary, and the PA would have a valid case against the Daly interpretation and against the spirit of how the rule would’ve been applied. IIRC the initial Kovalchuk contract was originally struck down because it violated the spirit but not the technical terms of the CBA? It seems very clear that the application of the waiver exemption rule here violates the spirit and purpose of the waiver rule and exemption – what does stopping teams from picking up Euroleague FAs midseason have to do with offer sheets of post-lockout RFAs who played 2 games in the KHL?

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