Colorado Avalanche: Should They Offer Sheet Mark Stone?


Mark Stone is an restrictred free agent this offseason and would be a great addition to the Colorado Avalanche line-up. But should the Avs give him an offer sheet?

When Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon went out of the line-up with a shoulder injury in late January, one thing became abundantly clear — the Avalanche are screwed without him. They do not have the offensive forward depth to deal with MacKinnon being out of the line-up for any length of time. Of course it’s a big deal when any team’s top player goes out with an injury, but it seems to be a bigger deal with Colorado.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the scoring depth on the wings has been severely lacking in recent years. Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog simply can’t be the only ones providing consistent offense. J.T Compher, Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot are all rookies. Hopefully their games all grow for next season, but for now they can’t be counted on for consistent offense.

Any other wingers the Avs have are depth pieces. While they certainly have a role in the team, they are not going to drive the offense. So, where is Colorado going to get more offense?

The cheapest and simplest way is though the draft (remember this, it’s important later). They can trade for someone in the offseason, but getting anyone who is a consistent point producer will cost a high pick, a high prospect and maybe a roster player.

Unrestricted free agency for quality goal scoring wingers usually means 6 or 7 year contracts with usually more money than the player is worth. Also, those contracts can end up being an absolute boat anchor on your team’s salary cap on the back end.

One alley the Avs can look at is restricted free agency. If the Avs want, they can send an offer sheet to an RFA after July 1st. If the player signs it, the other team has a week to match it. Now normally teams don’t send out offer sheets to RFA’s for a few reasons, mostly because GMs seem to have an unwritten rule; they simply don’t do that to each other. Also, these players are usually valuable enough that teams would just match the offer sheet anyway.

That being said, there could be a way for Joe Sakic to break the mold and send an offer sheet to someone, and the team may not match it. It’s Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators.

Stone is an interesting candidate, as Matt Cane (editor for mentions in this thread.

Mark Stone seems to be a perfect fit on the Avs. He’s an incredible two-way winger that can put up points and is responsible defensively. This season, even on the under-achieving Ottawa Senators, he’s playing above a point-per-game basis. He’s a first-line winger on just about every team in the league. He’s also become a great leader, which should really help the young players on the Avs.

As mentioned above, with any offer sheet comes draft pick compensation. Stone is probably going to make anywhere around 7.5 million and 9 million per year. In the 2017 offseason, the compensation for players offered around 7.5 to 9 million was either a first, second and third round pick or two first, one second and one third. Matt Cane noted that in the one first, one second and one third bracket, the top dollar amount would be around 8.3 – 8.5 million.

The Avs have the cap space to sign Stone to an 8+ million dollar per year contract, and Stone certainly would be worth it. They have extra 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round draft picks thanks to the Matt Duchene deal. The Ottawa Senators are about to go through a rebuild and have big decisions on Erik Karlsson, Duchene, Mike Hoffman and Cody Ceci. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is also notoriously cheap, and the Senators themselves have an internal cap. All of these reasons make me think the Avs could offer sheet Stone to a 7 year, 8+ million dollar contract, and the Senators might not match it.

Also, even if the Senators do match an offer sheet given to Stone, the Avalanche don’t lose anything.

Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche /

Colorado Avalanche

There are also reasons why the Avs should not offer sheet Stone. One of them being that “unwritten rule” GMs have about offer sheets. Joe Sakic may not want to ruin his reputation around the league with 30 other GMs and risk losing out on potential future trades. The last signed offer sheet that was not matched by the original team was in 2007 when the Anaheim Ducks let Dustin Penner go to the Edmonton Oilers. It also caused Ducks GM Brian Burke to call the move by Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe “gutless”.

The bigger reason may be the draft pick compensation. A first, second, and third round pick is a lot to give up, even for a player like Stone. I mentioned draft picks being the cheapest and simplest way to improve your team’s weak spots, like the wings on the Avalanche. Those three picks are important picks and theoretically all three of those could turn out to be key players for the Avalanche.

Make no mistake, the Colorado Avalanche are in the middle of a rebuild from last season, even with the surprising results of this season. Draft picks are key to building a deep team for the long haul. So the question becomes does Joe Sakic think the Avalanche have made a big enough jump this season to think the players have accelerated the rebuild?

I think the players have earned the trust of Joe Sakic. With their play this season, they’ve earned a chance from Sakic to go out and make this team even stronger for next season. Mark Stone would instantly make this team better, both offensively and defensively. He has recent playoff experience and would help the young rookies develop (I’m thinking mostly of Tyson Jost, but that could apply to any of the other young players as well).

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All things considered, I think Sakic should send an offer sheet to Stone if he doesn’t receive a new contract from the Ottawa Senators. I certainly understand if fans do not agree because rebuilds take time and patience. The draft picks given up as compensation could turn into fantastic players; players like say, Mark Stone.