Image courtesy of The Hockey News
This is a simple yet complex question, should the Minnesota Wild offersheet Anthony Cirelli?
An offersheet is like playing the lottery — it is rare to win , expensive to entertain and dangerous to play.
It is rare for an offersheet to occur, let alone the players team making the decision to not sign the contract offer. It is an expensive gamble to make because it most likely means that the contract is lucrative enough for the team to make the decision to pass on it. Likewise, the compensation can become quite expensive and involves the surrender of draft picks. Draft picks are vital to building a contender. It is a dangerous game for general managers to exercise, it can damage reputations and relationships.
First and foremost, it is critical to review the compensation it would require if this occurred. The compensation is dependent on what the offer sheet entails in terms of the numbers. According to Evolving Hockey, their contract projection for Anthony Cirelli is six-years with an average annual value of just over $5.8 million. If the Wild were to acquire Cirelli via an offer sheet, it is almost certain that it would be in the $6.35 million and higher tier. At that tier, the Wild would be required to surrender a first, second, and third-round pick if the Lightning were reluctant.
Regarding the flat cap that has many teams faced with crossing the line, the Wild likely do not have an issue with acquiring Cirelli at this price. The Wild will experience some cap relief with the likely departures of longtime captain Mikko Koivu and Alex Galchenyuk who was part of the return for the Wild in the Jason Zucker trade. There are plenty of other ways the Wild can gain some cap relief such as possessing legitimate buyout candidates and making moves via trade.
The Value Of Adding Anthony Cirelli
Anthony Cirelli has emerged as one of the most effective centers in the NHL. The 23-year-old center is primarily known for his outstanding play in the defensive zone. He is becoming one of the best two-way centers in the NHL. The former third-round selection recorded 16 goals, 28 assists for a career-high 44 points in the 2019-20 regular season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning forward core holds immense skill, yet the deployment of Cirelli can be rather shocking. According to PuckIQ, Cirelli led the Lightning in time on ice against elite competition. His 38 percent of ice time against elite competition ranked second aside from late-season acquisition Blake Coleman who played nine games. Likewise, his deployment displays the level of confidence and dependability the coaching staff has in the hard-nosed defensive center.
Analyzing his isolated impact, Cirelli is a dominant player. He ranked 50th in even-strength offense, 20th in even-strength defense and 32nd in defense among forwards. Looking at wins above replacement which takes into account all situations, Cirelli’s 2.8 wins ranks 9th among forwards and 5th among centers.
In terms of points and flashiness, Cirelli is not among the best centers. His underlying numbers and isolated impact are very important to note as it is almost inevitable that he becomes a number one center.
Why The Wild Should Offersheet Cirelli
— He is only 23 years old and is still developing. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that this is only a snapshot of what he will become.
—His underlying numbers, isolated impact and deployment display the level of skill and talent he possesses.
— He has averaged 17.5 goals, 24 assists and 41.5 points throughout his first two full seasons. It is fair to say he could hit 30 goals and 75 points in his prime at the very least. One of Cirelli’s great attributes is his accurate shot which is why he has a 15.3 shooting percentage. His lack of volume of shots can contribute to his lack of goal scoring.
— As a 22 year old rookie, he ranked 6th in the Calder race and 11th in the Selke race.
— The Wild could acquire Cirelli via an offersheet in which they would give Tampa draft picks. The Wild could then trade one of their defenseman and get Cirelli essentially for one of Dumba or Brodin. If the Wild were to get a number one center via trade, it would cost more than a defenseman.
Reasons The Wild Should Be Hesitant Of Entertaining An Offersheet To Cirelli
— The Wild already have Joel Eriksson Ek who has emerged as one of the best defensive centers in the NHL.
— It would most certainly cost the Wild a first, second, and third-round draft selection. Likewise, the former Wild general manager was known for trading draft picks in deals for veterans. The Wild were unable to become a true contender was due to the lack of building through the draft.
— Exercising an offer sheet can damage relationships and a reputation, especially a general manager who is new to the job.
— Similar to Koivu, his weakness is in transition, whether it is exiting or entering the zone and his play in the neutral zone.
— The Wild never built a good enough roster around Mikko Koivu, plain and simple. Although, winning with a defensive center with the lack of offensive production of a number one center, did not work. Do the Wild need to explore more offensive options such as far-fetched dreamers Jack Eichel and Aleksander Barkov?
I think this is definitely an explorable option on the table. Similarly, everything, there are pros and cons. Adding a player like Cirelli would really change the dynamics of the Wild up the middle. This should be approached with caution and used as a last resort. The Wild need an impact number one center right now, not a couple of years down the road. The Wild should seriously consider offer sheeting Anthony Cirelli if they are unable to find one elsewhere.
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