Alright, back from vacay and ready to delve in. Let’s get to it.
I think I got ahead of myself when I speculated that a lot of free agents would be left holding their hands out later in July and August. I figured that with cap issues being more pressing than ever with more teams, that there would be more trades and fewer crazy signings. But teams still managed to make July 1 a frenzy for free agents. My sage prediction will come true eventually – perhaps next year or the the year after – but obviously 2019 wasn’t the year. There were a couple more trades than usual and maybe one or two extra free agents still left after July 1, but nothing like I was expecting. And more players were bought out or not qualified than I expected. Valeri Nichushkin? That one surprised me. Derrick Pouliot, Markus Granlund, prospect Rourke Chartier, Andrej Sekera… there were a few minor names that I didn’t expect to see. But teams still have their RFAs to sign and some of them may have painted themselves into a corner now.
We are seeing the widening of the wage gap, in hockey form. Top talent get top dollars, but the fringe guys get pushed closer and closer to the league minimum. You’re seeing players not get qualified at $1,000,000 so that the same team can re-sign them for $850,000! Teams are really nickel-and-diming the lesser guys so that the star can make $8.7 million instead of $8.4.
Anyway, that was my overall impression of how things are going in July.
For those new to reading me, I will quickly outline my ideals as a businessman in the world of pro sports. I believe that unrestricted free agency is mostly a ridiculous waste of money. I would push hard for the elite players (i.e. if a Top 25 player reaches free agency), otherwise I would walk away. Later in July I would fill out depth roster spots or AHL roster spots on the UFA frince players. That’s it. Let the other teams waste money on the lesser stars or middling players. Think I’m wrong? Simply go to Cap Friendly