This summer, most NHL teams will be looking for improvement on defense. There are some good unrestricted free agents (Andrei Markov, Kimmo Timonen, Andrei Markov, Brooks Orpik) but most have a lot of miles or significant performance issues.
The restricted list on the other hand is very attractive. Justin Schultz, Erik Gudbranson and PK Subban are at the top of the salary list, and a quick glance beyond those names reveals some real gems. Jeff Petry, Brenden Dillon and Justin Faulk are all quality talents, and have many years ahead of them.
The NHL's general managers have a ridiculous unwritten rule about not signing another team's RFA's to offer sheets. It is "frowned upon" when a GM steps out of ranks and offers a restricted player a significant raise, but that attitude may not matter if teams become truly desperate for help.
The Philadelphia Flyers signed defender Shea Weber to a noxious offer sheet in 2012 summer (info here) which Nashville matched. Would a team like the Flyers entertain the idea of doing the same thing this summer with Subban?
I suspect NHL teams have already talked about it, which means the Montreal Canadiens are at risk with their impact defenseman.
That's a helluva player, ladies and gentlemen. Turns 40 in 2029. Is there a GM in the NHL willing to say to his owner "want to change the future? It's right in front of you."
My guess is there is a GM with that kind of vision. Does he dwell in Montreal?