Sunday, June 29, 2008

A UFA All Star Team

Free agency begins in the NHL in a couple days. The 2008 class of free agents is not a strong enough group to significantly affect the fortunes of an NHL team. This is a common situation with free agency under the current CBA. I decided to make an all star team of the 2008 free agent class and think about how this team would do were they an NHL team. Players on this all star team are listed with the last NHL team for which they played:

Sean Avery New York Rangers
Pavol Demitra Minnesota Wild
Sergei Fedorov Washington Capitals
Marian Hossa Pittsburgh Penguins
Kristian Huselius Calgary Flames
Jaromir Jagr New York Rangers
Ryan Malone Pittsburgh Penguins
Markus Naslund Vancouver Canucks
Brian Rolston Minnesota Wild
Joe Sakic Colorado Avalanche
Cory Stillman Ottawa Senators
Mats Sundin Toronto Maple Leafs
Radim Vrbata Phoenix Coyotes
Jason Williams Chicago Blackhawks

Brian Campbell San Jose Sharks
Adam Foote Colorado Avalanche
Brooks Orpik Pittsburgh Penguins
Wade Redden Ottawa Senators
Michal Rozsival New York Rangers
Mark Streit Montreal Canadiens
Brad Stuart Detroit Red Wings

Cristobal Huet Washington Capitals
Jose Theodore Colorado Avalanche

Forgetting salary cap considerations (as this team of players will likely sign for total contracts that well exceed the salary cap), how would this team do? They have a lot of players who have achieved considerable success in their careers, but most are well into decline. Most have had career best seasons many years ago (in the case of Sergei Fedorov as far back as 1993/94). Due to age, there likely would be significant injuries throughout a season.

I would guess such a team would miss the playoffs. They would be far from the worst team in the league and avoid a lottery spot in the draft, but they would be even further from the top team in the league. This underlies the point that you cannot build a team through free agency. The talent pool is not strong enough. It is too thin, too expensive and too old. While there will be a lot of excitement from fans as this group finds their new homes, it won't change the balance of power in the NHL. They are not good enough players to do so.

NOTE: Some of these players will not be unrestricted free agents come the July 1st deadline when free agency begins. Adam Foote re-signed in Colorado and Ryan Malone signed with Tampa Bay.

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