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Free Agent Pool Will Continue To Shrink

from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,

If you look at the landscape of the NHL over the last few summers, the contract of 10 or more years has become a common occurrence. Washington winger Alex Ovechkin is under contract for 13 years. Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo’s deal is 12 years. Same with Chicago’s Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith, as well as Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg and LA’s Mike Richards.

So what does that mean? Well, it used to be that after a player exited his first big free-agent contract, he still had some years left. Dallas got Brett Hull and Ed Belfour each at age 34, but there’s a very good chance that players of that caliber won’t be free agents at that age anymore.

That means the free-agency pool is going to be much smaller each summer. Last season, Brad Richards ran roughshod over free agency as the only real home run hitter. This year, it was Suter and Zach Parise, who landed with Minnesota. Next season, it could be Shea Weber or no one.

And while we don’t know the new rules that will come with the new collective bargaining agreement next season, it’s pretty safe to assume that you will have to carve a big hole in your salary-cap space to make a run at a player such as Weber, and that you will be left holding an empty bag if you don’t get him.

That’s one reason these offers are getting so ridiculous: The demand is high and the supply is low in free agency, and teams are going to be in full panic mode when they are making a push to be the one team that doesn’t have to go to “Plan B.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink



I am occasionally surprised at how stupid writers are.

No, Mike, the free agent class will not be getting smaller.  It will be getting younger.  There are just as many players in the NHL.  There are just as many teams.  There are just as many roster spots available per team.  Whether a free agent one year signs up for a 12 year or a 3 year deal has no substantive impact on the net number of UFAs available either that year or in subsequent years.

It has an impact on how many times that player will be a UFA, not on how many UFAs there are.

What has drastically changed the nature of the UFA period is the changes to the RFA rules.  Prior to this players were effectively protected assets until their 30’s.  Now they will be entering the UFA period by age 23 24 in some cases.  Where future player movement will start happening is in the nature of RFA offer sheets, because once a team (like, say, Minnesota) locks up a huge financial comittment to a limited number of guys their future RFAs will be ripe for offer sheet pickings.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/07/12 at 11:10 AM ET

UMFan's avatar

Maybe its me but I think fewer UFASs because of these long contracts are generally good for the game. If done wisely, they allow stability for the player as well as stability for the fans at a lower cost basis.

Posted by UMFan from Denver, Colorado on 07/08/12 at 01:17 AM ET

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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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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