Ah, the first day of free agency. That magical time of year when GM’s completely lose their minds and spent huge amounts of precious cap space on mediocre players. Unlike most other sports, NHL free agency is like a shotgun blast followed by several hours of “musical cap space”. It’s like a bizarre version Supermarket Sweep (note my dated reference) where everyone throws their items into their cart without looking at prices and runs to the checkout. It makes no sense.
In fairness, players want to sign quickly. No one wants to see teams use up all their cap space and be left without that lucrative contract that will set up generations of your family (hopefully). It had gotten so bad that the NHL has decided that a window for teams to meet/woo free agents prior to the formal offer window was necessary. This seems to make for an awkward courting period/possible tampering fest going on between the Draft and July 1.
I wanted to write this piece as a prelude to the window opening at noon. After the insanity of the past day or two and the insanity of this afternoon, I figured any off topic analysis would be lost forever once that bell rung. With Steven Stamkos off the board, I don’t imagine the Rangers will have the opportunity to get too carried away, especially with their defensive anchors still in tow.
Can anyone remember the last time a truly good long-term contract was signed in free agency? Most of the biggest ones have long been bought out or traded (think Brad Richards, Bryzgalov, David Clarkson, etc.). Not to mention the litany of other failed Rangers attempts (I don’t really need to go past Redden and Gomez/Drury, do I?). Don’t get me wrong, teams extract significant value from free agency every off-season, it just usually doesn’t come in the form of the marquee names.
When you look at the list of RFA’s that weren’t qualified and some of the more under the radar guys, I think there could potentially be some solid value to be had, and the Rangers would benefit greatly from mining that pool. They need to get creative given their current cap situation, and I would hope they would be opportunistic in trade discussions after some of the top guys come off the board. Take advantage of the tornado swirling around you and catch some desperate colleague off-guard.
Either way, what I am excited and hopeful about as the clock strikes noon today is just more chaos. I had serious concerns that a bunch of trades were made at happy hour the other day. As hard as the local beats may try, you simply cannot justify the Subban/Weber or Hall/Larsson trades. Even a little bit. PK Subban was more concerned with his own brand than the Habs? Really? That’s why you run one of the best puck moving defensemen in the league out of town? Peter Chirarelli, the cost of a probably top 4, defensive d-man with no significant offensive or puck moving skills was one of the top wingers in the entire NHL? Really? Is everybody drunk?
So, please more chaos. I want to see the Rangers handcuffed to the radiator in the police station while watching someone (probably the Oilers) give Milan Lucic 7 years at $7 mill per and watch the buyout countdown begin. I want to see more lopsided trades and GM’s desperately try to pry themselves free of one of the most coveted jobs in the world. Burn it all down. Maybe once we step out of the ashes, Girardi and Staal will be just a little more attractive in a trade…"Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Free Agency!",