Free Agent Frenzy

If and when there is a new CBA, the possibility remains that the current unrestricted free agency structure could change from how it was in the last CBA. It is very possible that the age of unrestricted free agency could very well be lowered. If that was the case, then we could very well see the biggest and most talented crop of free agents be available this summer. For argument sake, lets say they get a new CBA done by July 1st and they agree to lower the UFA age to 30. Here is who would be available:

From last years free agent list we have:

Centres: Allison, Stumpel, Zhamnov, Lemieux, Lindros, Perreault

Right Wing: Bondra, Carter, Kovalev, Selanne,

Murray, Palffy

Left Wing: Deadmarsh, Demitra, Kariya, Rucinsky

Defence: Chelios, Numminen, Odelein, Schneider

Malakhov, York, Zhitnik

Goal: Osgood, Snow, Potvin

And from the age decrease to 30, several players have or will turn 30 by the time free agency season rolls around. therefore we add for this year:

Centre: Forsberg, Morrison, Yzerman, Nidermayer

Arnott, Modano, Koivu, White, Niewendyk, Kozlov

Right Wing: Brunette, Naslund. Walker, MLapointe,

Grier, Satan, Domi, Mogilny

Left Wing: Gelinas, Moreau, Robitaille, Straka, Roberts, Langenbrunner, St Louis

Defence: Skrastins, Malik, Ozolinsh, Gill, Leetch, Rafalski, Aucoin, Hamrlik, Ragnarsson, Tarnstrom

Foote, Salo, Spacek, Pronger, Salei, Zubov, Rathje

Gonchar, Niedermayer, Stevens, Jonsson, Witt

Goal: Thibault, Thibault, Cechmanek, Dunham, Weekes, Burke, Nurminen, Khabibulin

From NHL.com I found info on team payrolls for the 2005-06 season. (in millions of dollars)

Team Payroll

Detroit 50.1

Philly 45.6

Toronto 36.3

Pheonix 34.7

St Louis 31.5

Ottawa 31.2

Dallas 30

Colorado 29.9

NY Rangers 29.1

Anaheim 26.9

Columbus 25.3

NY Islander 21.1

Tampa 20.8

LA 20.7

Montreal 19.7

New Jersey 19.7

Atlanta 19.4

Minnesota 17.8

Calgary 17.1

Edmonton 17

San Jose 16.7

Vancouver 16

Carolina 15.6

Chicago 14.6

Nashville 14.5

Buffalo 11.5

Florida 8.7

Washington 8.4

Pittsburgh 7.5

Boston 4.6

If it is safe to say that payrolls will be capped at no higher than $40 million, then the highest payroll teams from this list are not going to be able to cash in on this group of free agents unless they make some roster cuts.

from this you can see why:

a) the leafs dont want a cap because they would cash in big time on these free agents and perhaps attempt to sign 3 or 4 of them to restock their roster.

b) the lower end teams like edmonton, pittsburgh, nashville want a hard low cap because they simply cannot compete with the big money teams if trying to sign these players.

c) some owners wanted to cancel the season as many big contracts come off the books giving them a bit more payroll flexibility. this will allow them to kind of “start over” and bring in fresh talent and get rid of those they no longer want.

d) the players dont want a cap. with so many top line players as free agents, the best case scenario for them is to have a bidding war for all this talent.

Bottom line is, the league and the players better get a deal done. and the earlier the better. with all these players being potentially free agents and free to go anywhere they wish, we could see an eventful off season. an offseason that also sees the NHL and PA getting a new CBA done, Sidney Crosby getting drafted, new rule changes being agreed on.

I sure cant wait til hockey season starts and we can talk about players, trades, free agents, rule changes and playoffs again.


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