by PuckStopsHere on 01/25/14 at 10:09 PM ET
Every summer teams feel a lot of pressure to sign free agents. There is a limited class of players available each year and few of the players available are clear gamebreakers. While it can be worth a lot to sign an all star player, they usually are not available. Some of the most heavily pursued free agents usually wind up to be younger free agents who are still in their 20s and have reached unrestricted free agency for the first time. If a player in this group is coming off of a solid season, they usually get pursued by a lot of teams. These players do not have to have ever been proven to be all stars. They merely have to be the best of the younger UFA players.
Last season two such players were David Clarkson and Stephen Weiss. Neither had ever been all stars, but as some of the best younger ufas they were pursued and given some lengthy lucrative contracts. Clarkson is signed with Toronto until 2020 with a $5.25 million salary cap hit. Weiss is signed with Detroit until 2018 with a $4.9 million salary cap hit. These are numbers neither is worth.
So far this season Clarkson has three goals and eight points. Weiss has two goals and four points. Both have much lower numbers than would have been expected. However neither was expected to be dominant NHL all stars either. As we look forward into the future, both of these players look like buyout candidates.
The problem with building through free agency is that you have to spend a lot of money and offer multi=year contracts to get the biggest prizes. If the biggest prizes are not all star players, they are almost certainly not going to be worth it. There is no guarantee that players will fail the way Clarkson and Weiss have so far this season, but it is unlikely that they can live up to their new contracts. This doesn't mean that you cannot sign a free agent to a good deal. You must avoid the most heavily pursued player and find a diamond in the rough. Chasing the younger UFAs who are not all stars and signing them to all star level contracts is a bad idea.
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