To make it clear off the hop: The chances of a team signing a restricted free agent to an offer sheet are minuscule. It's such a rarity in the NHL. There have been 10 offer sheets signed in the salary-cap era, and only two in the past decade.

The reasons aren't quite clear. General managers might be hesitant to surrender draft picks or dish out a contract that could be seen as an overpay in the short term. Maybe they're scared of putting a target on their back with a potential revenge offer sheet from the opposing GM in the future. After all, almost nobody wants to find themselves in a barn fight.

But it's a perfectly legal, vastly underused tactic that can be deployed to acquire a young, star player or put an opposing team in a very difficult position, both of which are reasons that make the Edmonton Oilers' Evan Bouchard a prime target for an offer sheet.

Bouchard is a 23-year-old right-handed defenseman. The 2018 No. 10 pick stands at 6-foot-3 and is tremendous offensively. He racked up back-to-back 40-point seasons and has shined in the postseason with 26 points in 28 playoff games.

While Bouchard passes the eye test thanks to his size, some physicality, and offensive ability, he also posted outstanding underlying numbers in 2022-23.

Bouchard has all the makings of a future No. 1 defenseman. He might even be a dark-horse candidate for the Norris Trophy next season. Following Tyson Barrie's trade to the Nashville Predators on Feb. 28, Bouchard racked up 36 points in 33 games between the regular season and playoffs.

So it's clear Bouchard is not only a cornerstone of the Oilers' future, but he's also a key piece in their hopes of winning a Stanley Cup in 2024. Losing him would be devastating.

Edmonton has just $5.62 million in projected cap space, according to CapFriendly. The Oilers also have third-line center Ryan McLeod as an RFA (who can't be signed to an offer sheet because he's arbitration eligible). If the Oilers stretch their lineup as thin as possible, they'll have $7.245 million to sign both players.