Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/04/14 at 09:54 AM ET
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
On July 5, Thomas Vanek will likely sign a big-bucks contract with Minnesota. Ryan Miller could find a team looking for an experienced, if fading, ace.
And that will be that for high-impact signings.
As Ken Holland noted, the free market is not what it once was. GMs do not let their stars reach unrestricted free agency. They don’t even let them approach the final year of their deal. David Krejci, who will be a UFA after 2014-15, will claim an extension with the Bruins before the season begins. Consider the likes of Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr, Andrew Ference, and Anton Khudobin last year. The only players who reach the free market are the ones teams don’t want back.
July 5 is now a time for rifles instead of shotguns. Last year, the Bruins signed Jarome Iginla on July 5. Iginla became part of the Bruins’ leadership group. But Iginla was a targeted signing. The Bruins had a niche. Iginla filled it.
The shift is toward drafting, developing, and trades. Teams are investing in their amateur scouting departments to identify the best young players. This is the preferred route. Picks operate under cost savings on their entry-level contracts. A team’s prospects develop together once they reach the AHL. GMs can use picks for trade currency.
For these reasons, the NHL’s critical dates are now in late June when the draft takes place. All the GMs and their scouts are together. Players become available via trade. Picks come into play. Successful GMs strike at this time, complement their rosters in July, and hit the lake in August.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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