Monday, August 01, 2005

Largest Group of Free Agents so Far

Part of the marketing plan for the new NHL is to try to convince fans that no matter how good or bad their team was last year, they are going to be serious contenders this year. In order to do that, it is necessary to have lots of players change hands each summer. That way, no matter how poorly your team performed last year, there will be a bunch of new additions that might improve it. As part of this, it is necessary to have a large number of free agents available for purchase. This is accomplished this year by having two years worth of free agents available at once. In the future, it will be accomplished by reducing unrestricted free agency ages. Thus, good teams will be built by free agency and not by drafting. Those teams best at signing free agents will likely win. Likely, those teams that are in top media markets such as Toronto, New York and Los Angeles will be best at signing free agents because they offer the best chance at advertising dollars going to the free agent signee outside of the salary cap.

Here is a list of all the free agents this year. It is a record sized crop.

Some teams have already begun to sign players. Florida has signed ex-Toronto Maple Leafs Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts. TSN's story is here. These are two players that had aged beyond the level that they were useful in a market like Toronto. So they are going to be used in a lesser market like Florida. Some lesser signings occurred also, the St Louis Blues signed goon Aaron Downey from the Dallas Stars. TSN's story is here. Also, the Minnesota Wild signed Andrei Nazarov from the Phoenix Coyotes. TSN's story is here. I doubt either of the later two will make significant contributions to their new teams.

I tend to wonder about free agent signings that occur this quickly in the signing period. Were the teams and players in contact before they were officially allowed to be?

NOTE: The free agent listing is a great site updated by Cory Brolund. It is a geocities site that has a bandwidth limit, so sometimes it is unavailable.

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