Craig Custance at the Sporting News just passed along information which is being distributed by the NHL to its teams, outlining the compensation levels that teams receive if another team signs a Restricted Free Agent away from them. Based on the average salary in the new contract, the compensation received by the team losing the free agent are as follows:
$1,034,249 or below: No compensation
$1,034,249 -- $1,567,043: Third-round pick
$1,567,043 -- $3,134,055: Second-round pick
$3,134,088 -- $4,701,131: First and third-round pick
$4,701,131 -- $6,268,175: First, second and third-round pick
$6,268,175 -- $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third
$7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks
For the Nashville Predators, there are 10 RFA's listed per NHLNumbers.com. The big one, obviously, is captain Shea Weber, but others who spent a lot of time in Nashville include Cal O`Reilly, Nick Spaling, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Matt Halischuk, In the farm system, the RFA's include Mark Dekanich, Andreas Thuresson, Chris Mueller, Teemu Laakso, and Linus Klasen (who has already gone back to Sweden).
Do you think the Preds would be in danger of losing any of these guys to offer sheets? Personally, I doubt it, unless perhaps Sergei Kostitsyn tries to play hardball and finds someone willing to pay multi-millions. While Shea Weber is undoubtedly attractive, the Predators would likely match any offer. Custance, in a followup article, even asked Barry Trotz about that possibility:
"We'll just match it," Trotz told Sporting News. "I can tell you, whatever they offer, it'll just get matched."
In order to retain these compensation rights, the Preds must at least make a qualifying offer to each of these players, if they're not already signed by July 1. If a player does receive an offer sheet from another team, the Predators would have the right to match the deal in order to retain the player. Players actually changing teams via offer sheets are incredibly rare (have there been any since Dustin Penner a few years ago?), although sometimes teams will submit an offer sheet, knowing that the other team will match, forcing their hand to perhaps pay more for a player than they otherwise would.
GM's in general stay away from such tactics, as was demonstrated in 2006 when Bobby Clarke (then-GM of the Flyers) made a one-year, $1.9 million offer sheet to some young scrub in Vancouver (follow that link to find out who). His colleagues howled in disbelief at the time...
One thing to keep in mind is that to extend an offer sheet which might trigger this compensation, a team must have their own draft picks available to give to the other team, they cannot use those they've received in trade from elsewhere.