The offer sheet game

The San Jose Sharks spiced up the offseason today, signing Chicago restricted free agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to an offer sheet. TSN is reporting it's a four-year deal worth $14 million.

Chicago has seven days to match the offer and retain the Finnish defenseman, or they will get draft pick compensation from the Sharks. Because Hjalmarsson's contract averages $3.5 million, the Sharks would have to hand over a first round and a third round pick to Chicago. We'll see how it plays out.

There's been some concern that someone could throw Stars RFA James Neal an offer sheet, considering the Stars tight financial situation, and that the two sides aren't on the same page when it comes to a contract right now.

Last week stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was asked about the possibility of an offer sheet for Neal.

"They have been rare, and I realize that the threat potentially is there," Nieuwendyk said. "But it certainly doesn't stop us from doing what is right."

I don't believe today's move by the Sharks is going to start a run on offer sheets around the league, and I have doubts about Neal being a target. They are, as Nieuwendyk said, rare. But you never know.

Here's a look at the compensation when it comes to offer sheets for restricted free agents:

$1,020,348 or less: No compensation.

$1,020,348 to $1,545,981: Third round pick

$1,545,981 to $3,091,963: Second round pick

$3,091,963 to $4,637,944: First round pick and third round pick

$4,637,944 to $6,183,925: First round pick, second round pick and third round pick

$6,183,925 to $7,729,907: Two first round picks, a second round pick and third round pick

More than $7,729,907: Four first round picks