Monday, July 11, 2005

Flyers Want to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too

When the lockout finally ends, there will be a huge group of free agents. The NHL owners are, in general, not too unhappy about this because many of them will be resigned for far below a 24% paycut. Hockey rodent explains why there will not be salary cap room on most teams to sign UFA's at their current rates (less 24%). However, there is one group of potential free agents, those that are draft re-entries that their NHL teams do not want to become free agents. Under the old CBA (which is presumed to still be in existance until the next one is signed), any player who was drafted in 2003 who has not signed a contract as of June 1st, 2005 can re-enter the draft and if the draft is not held by the end of June, they will become free agents. These players would be bound by entry level salary restrictions making the elite ones the most underpaid players in the NHL, so teams do not want them to become unrestricted free agents.

The team most affected by this will be the Philadelphia Flyers with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, as TSN reports. These are arguably the two best players among this group of potential free agents. These were two stars in their farm team the Philadelphia Phantoms AHL Calder Cup victory. If the Flyers lose these players as UFAs it will be a major loss for the franchise. Naturally, the Flyers want to use the new CBA to get out of all the contracts that they no longer want, but they want to use it to keep these two potential stars. Seems that the Flyers are asking for two inconsistent things but they will both benefit them. Contracts on the old CBA run out, unless they don't want them to.

With the lack of bargaining power of the NHLPA, the Flyers may get their way. The most likely arguments will come from other teams that want a shot at Carter or Richards as free agents or from legal action filed by their agents.

Notice also, from the Bobby Clarke quote in the TSN article referenced above how the value of agents is significantly reduced under the new propsed CBA. Here is the Clarke quote:

I would say these two kids will be easy to sign because they're going to get the maximum they're allowed. They earned it. You try not to give away money, but they earned the right to get the most. As soon as the CBA is done and we get a look at it and know what we can pay, we'll be able to get it done.

Its easy to sign these guys. Offer them the most they are allowed to offer them and they will still be bargains under the new CBA. Clarke can claim it is something they earned and look like a good guy to them despite how hard he and his team fought to reduce the amount these guys could earn by fighting to reduce entry level salaries in the CBA.

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