Tuesday, June 14, 2005

With a deal so close....A New Crazy Hockey World Awaits us all

When the new CBA is reached, agreed upon, and finally signed, fans and all those involved in hockey will awaken in a new crazy state. Namely Free Agency. With the likeliehood of 24% salary cuts across the board we will see a drastic change on all teams. Some questions arise:

1. What happens to the status of the players contract over the last year? Does it count as a year of their contracts, or do they pick up where they left off.

2. What will happen to the abundant free agents, or released players that result from a team trying to get below the cap and avoid revenue sharing?

3. Does this mean the end of the typical 4th line "grinder", or "goon." Looks that way to me.

Here are some interesting facts from www.sportsnet.ca

The "Big Cut"
Given that the union's offer of a 24 per cent salary rollback remains a key part of the new deal, the NHL will return without any skaters over the $10-million US range. The league's highest-paid player, Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers, will see his salary adjusted from $11 million to $8.36 million.Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues, Alexei Yashin of the New York Islanders and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings go from $10 million to $7.6 million while Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin falls from $9 million to $6.84 million.

Re-Stocking Rosters:
NHL GMs will have their work cut out for them, not only learning a new system but also needing to quickly stock their rosters. The Boston Bruins and New York Islanders have the fewest players under contract for next season -- five apiece -- while the Washington Capitals have only six and the Carolina Hurricanes seven. In my opinion, if big players become available due to the cap, watch out for these teams to make a drastic improvement from the last. Especially, if Unrestricted Free Agensy age is pushed to 30 instead of 31. Interesting isn't it? At the other end of the spectrum, the Phoenix Coyotes already have 21 players signed for next season, while the Columbus Blue Jackets have 20.

Restricted Free Agency in the "Capped World"
Some big-name restricted free agents need new deals, the likes of Jarome Iginla in Calgary, Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk in Atlanta, Jose Theodore in Montreal, Joe Thornton in Boston, Rick Nash in Columbus, Milan Hejduk in Colorado, Pavel Datsyuk in Detroit, Ryan Smyth in Edmonton, Roberto Luongo in Florida, Patrik Elias in New Jersey, Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat in Ottawa, Simon Gagne in Philadelphia, Patrick Marleau in San Jose, Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier in Tampa and Mattias Ohlund and Brendan Morrison in Vancouver. This situation, along with UFA's, is very interesting. This is where the strategy and thinking of the GM comes into play. Who to sign as your core players and for what under the cap.

Unrestrcited Free Agents:
Unrestricted free-agent stars will include the likes of Peter Forsberg, Nikolai Khabibulin, Markus Naslund, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Modano, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Leetch.

Is it good to be 30?
In no man's land right now are Saku Koivu, Chris Pronger, Miroslav Satan and any other 30-year-old free agent. If unrestricted free agency drops from 31 to 30 in the new agreement -- something that is being discussed -- then those players become available to the highest bidder, albeit in a new world where the market has been re-adjusted by 24 per cent and with teams only having so much money to spend under the cap.

With all this in mind, one thing is for sure. It will have us all back on each of our respective "band-wagons" and back into the game we love so much.

For complete article visit http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/article.jsp?content=20050613_171155_4792

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