Potential Unrestricted Free Agents for 2006-07
There has been many people wondering what the class of 2006-07 unrestricted free agents will look like. I will attempt to put together a list of such free agents. From the rules as stated on the NHL.com website a player will be unrestricted in 2006 if he is 29 years old with 4 years experience or has 8 seasons in the NHL.
As sources, I am using the free agent tracker on sportsnet.ca to find out who signed where and for how long in order to figure out the players who signed 1 year deal and would be eligible for UFA. for ages and years of experience i am using the star.com under their waymoresports page. And I am using an a chart found under one of the old CBA proposals made by the league back in December 2004 that listed players under contract for the 06-07 season. I found that on the NHL.com website.
Sifting through all this data, I have come up with this tenative list give or take a few players. It may not be 100% accurate but will give us a general idea who is out there. Only the more prominent names are listed.
There is not the star studded cast that may have happened had not so many stars sign long term deals like Marleau, Thornton, Iginla, Lecavalier. But this group of free agents is still a very deep cast. if a team were looking to next summer and grabbing some of that talent available, they will find alot of guys who could help their teams.
Lets take the Toronto Maple Leafs for instance. The Leafs will have tied up 10 million to 4 players. Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Jeff O’Neill and Tie Domi. They will need to put aside some money to sign their key restricted free agents like Matt Stajan and Tomas Kaberle. If say 4 million is used up for those two then that would bring the team’s payroll to 14 million for 6 players. Toronto would then have anywhere from 20-25 million available to spend and 16-17 roster spots to fill. The amount available could be more if revenues go up or less if revenues go down thus bringing down the cap. They also have to determine if they wish to bring back their key UFAs in Allison, Lindros and Mccabe, as well as fill out their roster with their prospects, other RFAs and cheap veterans.
Though 20 million plus sounds like alot to work with, you can begin to understand why the Leafs are much more inclined to include the bonuses due to Jason Allison on this year’s cap rather than next year. losing 3 million is a loss of a quality player. they will want as much money available to go after any of those potential free agents available.
There are so many options for Toronto. If Allison and Lindros play well this year, a return next year is not out of the question. But they could go after a player like Arnott and/or Peca to replace them and keep Toronto with 3 solid centres.
The team needs help on the wings now never mind next season, but they could target guys like Sykora, Elias or Samsonov in an effort to find the right guy to play with Sundin.
The team could bring back McCabe and add to the defence with some solid 2nd tier guys like McKee, Witt, Poti, Johnsson or Carney. Or outright replace McCabe with the likes or Redden or Jovanovski.
And Belfour has an option on his contract that likely wont be picked up. That will mean either re-signing him to a lower contract or bringing in someone new like Marty Turco.
In other words, if your team has set themselves up with a healthy amount of cap room. and if on the off chance the cap numbers rise, then a team could really reshape themselves next summer and go after some pretty prominent free agents.
It is a long ways away, but we will see how things play out during this season and see who ends up being the big catch for next summer. Until then, lets sit back and watch a great season in the NHL.