Free Agency Extravaganza
June 30, 2009 by Big Tony
Arguably the most exciting part of the NHL offseason begins on Wednesday and that is the beginning of the Free Agency period. The draft resulted in very few moves which leaves a lot of mystery to unfold with some big names on the market including Marian Hossa, Alexi Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Marian Gaborik, and Rob Scuderi (whose stock went way up after his performance in the playoffs) among many other players who will likely be asking for big time deals. Jay Boumeester will most likely be off the market (barring any disaster) before free agency begins so what can we expect starting Wednesday? With the salary cap only going up by $100K can teams afford to sign big names to gigantic contracts? And what teams have the most to gain from the frenzy?
Perhaps the most obvious place to start is in Montreal where the Canadiens have just come off a very disappointing playoff appearance and who have ten players to become unrestricted free agents (UFA). That will leave a crater to fill in a place where the fans are hungry for a Stanley Cup but have not seen one since 1993. In all likelihood the Canadiens (under new ownership) will go in a new direction and not try to resign big names like Kovalev since this core group has not had the type of success demanded by playing in Montreal. I would be surprised if they try to resign a lot of their players but they will have a lot of decisions to make. If nothing else, Montreal can hang their hats on the fact that they have a goaltender in Carey Price who should be solid for years to come if he just regains his confidence.
A team that is perhaps on the cusp and has a lot to gain from free agency is the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota’s goaltending is solid as Niklas Backstrom was just nominated for the Vezina Trophy and he’s got a great defensive unit in front of him. With that said Minnesota simply needs to get itself some goal scorers or just ONE and that should make up for the two points that kept them out of the playoffs this past season. Marian Hossa comes to mind as an option or perhaps the Sedin twins out of Vancouver, both options would supply the Wild with the scoring they seek.
There also may or may not be a shakeup in San Jose despite their enormous regular season success the post-season saw them exit in the first round. Some have suggested goaltending is all that needs to be addressed and Scott Clemmensen may just be the answer for San Jose’s alleged goaltending needs. Brian Boucher and Evgeni Nabokov did a more than adequate job in my opinion but rumblings in the San Jose front office suggests that it was not up the par in the post-season and they are not very happy with that.
The possibilities are endless for teams all over the league once free agency starts but there is a bit of a taste of the types of moves that could happen. It should be a very exciting day for hockey fans everywhere especially those who think their team is only a move or two away from making a run at the Stanley Cup. There aren’t too many offseason days that produce excitement and this is one of them so hopefully it is an enjoyable one for those needing a hockey fix since the end of the finals.