Just About Everyone Screwed Up The Aho Offer Sheet
Just about everyone screwed up the Sebastian Aho offer sheet… The Montreal Canadians… Certainly the Carolina Hurricanes… and yes, even Sebastian Aho!
If you're not a fan of either franchise an offer sheet is certainly exciting isn't it? Who's making it? Will it get matched? What was the player thinking? What was the team thinking? All the moving parts can certainly be thrilling. But all three parties in this scenario really screwed things up!
Let's start before the offer sheet was made. Reports had come in saying that at least 3 teams had contacted the Hurricanes to give fair warning that they would be submitting an offer sheet to Aho. The #Canes response was, go ahead, we'll match anything.
As far as the "we'll entertain trade talk," we're going to chalk that up to internet rumor... I'm sure they would have listened to a trade offer, but it probably would have had to been a pretty big package.
But the Canes were at no fault here. If a team calls and says they're sending an offer sheet, you puff out your chest and give the response they gave.
They could have gotten this deal done before... They had plenty of time, starting with July 1st of last year to put an Aho plan in place and they didn't. I know contracts are a process and things take time, but everyone and their mother identified the Aho situation as one that could possible work for an offer sheet. The Canes left themselves exposed and that's no ones fault but their own. By the way, their big screw up is still to come... This isn't it.
The Canadians screwed up because they didn't get it done. I will say, they gave it the good ol' college try. I actually really liked Marc Bergevin's strategy. He wanted to offer a big contract while staying under the threshold of having to give up 4 1st round picks. The thought process was, if they front loaded the bonus structure of the contract, perhaps that would be too much for the small market Hurricanes and extremely unorthodox owner Tom Dundon to handle. Out of the $42 Million dollars in the contract, $21 Million would go to Aho in bonus' in the first 12 months. I know the NHL is a Billion dollar industry, but even for the average millionaire owner thats a lot of cash to move around in a short period of time! The Canadians were hoping this was too much for them to handle. But with the Hurricanes saying they are going to match, clearly it wasn't. Good strategy. Good try. But at the end of the day they screwed it up because it didn't work.
The Hurricanes big screw up comes in their response to the offer sheet. They waited a day before responding in the media that they would absolutely match. Why would they do that!?!? Everyone knows you let the offering club twist in the wind for the full 7 days before you respond! In this situation you go radio silent! You don't say we intend to match and then wait the full 7 days it doesn't have the same impact. You go quiet and wait. Especially since everyone pinpointed them as the club that might not match. A lot can happen in 7 days. Montreal could wind up missing out on another player. There is no advantage to responding immediately.
I know, you're thinking but what about the fan base. What about calming the fan base down with the response. Fans take a back seat in this particular scenario. Besides, how excited would the Caniacs be if Carolina matched while simultaneously screwing the Canadians out of something else?
So how did Aho screw up? Well he signed the damn thing... That might have been a mistake. For one, it seems like he took way less then he probably could have wound up with. Don Waddell even admitted he thought the money would have been higher. Ouch! And also if you look at the track record for players that sign offer sheets that are matched, a lot of times they wind up being traded a short time later. Just look at Ryan O'Reilly, Shea Weber, and so on. Offer sheets are like finding a text message from your significant other to someone else... Sure they may not have cheated this time, but that relationship is ruined... it just may take some time for it to actually fall apart.
And finally the media screwed up. Its not entirely their fault because as previously stated, Tom Dundon is one of a kind. Everyone assumed Aho was ripe for the plucking because it seems like Tom planned on running this team on a tight budget. Its not unwarranted, it seemed like they were willing to let both their amazing goalies go (even though they eventually came to terms with Peter Mrazek) and their trade and true leader in Justin Williams remains unsigned... The speculation isn't totally unfair, but when you look at the reports coming out, they had Aho gone with out knowing the real facts. The facts are that Dundon loves Aho. When he first took over the team he specifically mentioned him as one of the players they were building around after trading Jeff Skinner. And he has the money. Dundon, told the Chicago Tribune the offer sheet was a "waste of time" and no one should question their ability to make such a large payment, saying, "I'm very fortunate to be in the position I am. This sounds terrible but writing that check is no big deal."
Dundon loves Aho... Bergevin said in the media, that Aho "wants to be a Canadian, that's why he signed."
Dundon denied the truth in that. But Aho did sign... There's no denying that. Will Dundon be able to get over this? He's acting like someone who found a text message on their significant others phone who's denying it means anything. Will this lead to an eventually break up like it did for O'Reilly, Weber and others... We shall see. But much like those pesky surprise text messages, when you put your head on your pillow at night and you close your eyes... You know... And I'm curious to see how Tom handles this over countless nights... Actually its not countless... There's over 1,825 nights in 5 years...