Keep Calm and Carey On
It’s like Zach and Sean said on the latest edition of The Two-Four, the only acquisition that will make a real difference would come from a trade and not from free agency. Any NHL General Manager who wants to make their team significantly better than last season via free agency is fresh out of luck.
This year’s free agent offering is admittedly thin and the demand for those few quality players will be high. It’s like going out for pizza at 3 p.m. – you won’t have the best selection, it won’t be that good, you know damn well that the selection and quality is bad, and you do it anyway.
But the sparse offerings are no coincidence, especially when you consider next year’s list of free agents: Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry, Niklas Backstrom, Alexander Edler, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Ribeiro, Mike Fisher, Scott Hartnell, Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Nathan Horton, Travis Zajac, Simon Gagne, Michael Ryder, Tobias Enstrom, Clarke MacArthur, Alexandre Burrows, Dainius Zubrus, Chris Higgins, Ryan Whitney, Chad Larose, Pascal Dupuis, Teddy Purcell, Stephen Weiss.
Obviously, some of these guys will be resigned in the next twelve months, but it’ll be a huge year for free agents if even half of them are still available this time next year.
There’s no doubt that teams didn’t want to be stuck with long-term contracts and intentionally had them finish in 2013-2014. They wanted to protect themselves from a possible lowering of the salary cap with the yet to be determined collective bargaining agreement. This prudence, although justified, has proven to be unnecessary as it was just announced that the cap will be bumped up and that the 2012-2013 NHL season will likely start before there is an agreement between the league and the NHLPA.
Very soon teams will find themselves with more money to throw at the handful of players still available this July 1st and yes, this will be another factor that will compel teams to overpay for their talent. Get ready to watch teams show as much forethought as Mike Myers did when he made The Love Guru.(editor’s note: Boom! In your face Leafs fans!)
Montreal was only eight wins away from the playoffs last season (seven wins if they had won one game apiece against Ottawa, Buffalo and Washington) but league parity made them look like three legged mules at the Kentucky derby.
In June of next year we’ll know the new collective agreement parameters and all the impetuous GM’s will have overspent on mediocre players. That’s when we want to make that big juicy free agent signing. Although the desire for another impact player on the roster is a legitimate one, a team that can go long in the playoffs isn’t made in one summer.