Breaking Sports

Friday, July 01, 2005

nhl- Free Agency

from the Toronto Star, Market forces had already shrunk Canada Day's role on the hockey calendar in recent years, but never has July 1 been more irrelevant than it is in 2005.
In any other year, July 1 would have kickstarted the NHL's free-agent feeding frenzy, but NHL management offices will be dark today and player agents will find that they will not be confronted with the prospect of having to have their phones surgically removed from their ears.
"I'll be doing something (today)," said Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, "but it won't be what I'm usually doing on this day."
Don't worry, the NHL will make up for today's idleness once it comes to a collective bargaining agreement with its players, likely sometime next week. When that happens, the need to fill out rosters in an abbreviated off-season, combined with the uncertain economics of the game, will make for a stunningly chaotic period leading right up to training camp in September.
As the two sides get closer, snippets of the deal are beginning to emerge. It looks as though the upper limit of the salary cap will be between $36 million and $38 million (all figures U.S.) including benefits. As for unrestricted free agency, it will remain status quo for the first year of the deal, meaning any player who has reached his 31st birthday by July 1 will qualify as a Group III free agent.
Then it gets interesting. According to a number of sources, free agency will go down one year with each passing year, meaning it will kick in at 30 next summer, 29 in 2007 and 28 in 2008 and that is where it will stay for the duration of what's expected to be a six-year deal....more, if you want to read how this plays out for the Leafs.