Let me start of by saying that in no way is Kevin Lowe a jerk for giving overpriced offer sheets to Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner. He was acting within the rules so Darcy and Burke should have better prepared for the possibility of this occurence. However, looking forward, this rule does not seem to make much sense. It would be best for the sport of hockey if this rule was abolished.
Letting GMs give offer sheets to RFAs is ruining what the league worked so hard to achieve. Dustin Penner is worth nowhere near 4.5 million per year and although Vanek may become worth his 6.5 million, he is not quite there yet. Because these players were overpaid by so much, the market value of all players will skyrocket. 30 players file for arbitration and less than 10 of them will actually go through the process because everyone is afraid of the offer sheets. And it is a waste of time for players and teams that do go through arbitration to wait for 3 weeks because their date comes after the already signed players. In contract negotiations, the players compare themselves to Vanek and Penner and demand more money than they deserve and they get it. Some players may not play this year because there isnt enough cash to go around.
The market is already in a precarious positon because of the signings this offseason. Without pointing fingers at who's at fault, it is clear that EVERY unrestricted free agent was overpayed. But allowing a GM to offer two players higher salries than their already inflated market prices is just plain suicidal for the league. It ruins the entire point of the lockout. Us hockey fans suffered for an entire year but survived of the promises made by the league of a better NHL. And all we have to show for it are shootouts and two-line-passes. But in regard to overpaying players, the real problem that caused the lockout, we are moving back to the old NHL. And this is occuring because the owners are bringing in boatloads of revenue so they dont care that the cap will keep going up and players are being overpayed.
Eventually, though, the diparity between big market and small market teams will return to the extent that existed in 2003. And there will be another lockout. And any loyal fans that reamined after 2004 will leave the sport. And the NHL will die. By eliminating the offer sheets, the market will rise at a slower rate and the inevitable destruction of hockey will be pushed off for a while.
Maybe after changing this rule, the league can find a place to stop the cap for good. Then it can reach an equilibrium where owners can make money while putting out good teams and not overcharging fans for ticket, parking and merchandise. And players will still be making millions for playing a game. And the NHL can survive.