Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Night Rundown

The Puck Stops Here has a nice listing (with links) to today's free agent signings. The biggest shocker for me is Kariya to the Predators. $4.5 million is a slight overpayment, but as I said in this post, small market teams can overpay now.

John at Boltsmag/RawLightning is happy that Khabibulin signed with Chicago.

Tom Benjamin goes off on Kevin Lowe.

Chris from Hockey Country pens an essay on the current free agent market. I thought I would spend a few minutes responding to it. I agree with almost everything he says, especially this.

Eventually, when/if all the big spending slows down, there will be a little less than 100 players looking for new homes. By then, with most teams having signed their restricted free agents, cap room will be at a minimum across the league. The choices available to players won't be what it was for those who signed this week. As a result, they'll have to take less money with teams they maybe wouldn't have looked at previously. Their “market value” will be irrelevant because it will be about finding a place to play.

But I don't agree with this next part.

One point that hasn't been given the emphasis I feel it should've is the fact that the salary cap is not set in stone. It will fluctuate based on league revenues. It's $39 million this year, but next summer, pending a miracle that allows the NHL to not take a hit financially this year, it will be lower. Giving out four and five year contracts, which seem to be the norm this off season, might not be intelligent considering we don’t know where we're going to be. It's very possible a five year deal will be a financial albatross to a team in a few years, limiting what they can do when there are 26-year-old free agents available to them.

I don't like some of these crazy long term deals GM's are doing. Well, actually I do, because it will put the Rangers in a much better situation. But what needs to be remembered is that a percentage of each player's salary is being held in an escrow. So if the cap goes down, that money goes back to the owners instead of to the players. A player making $4 million a season could have that brought down to $3.4 million (though more realistically, in the $3.7 range).

Getting into a bidding war in this kind of market is crazy. The teams that wait will be in a better long term position. But the new CBA helps GM's because if the cap goes down, then the salaries on the teams automatically go down. The biggest thing is that everyone is trying to figure out how this system will play out and there are two camps. The first camp believes it is best to go out and sign big name free agents for too much money and if the cap goes down, then let their salaries go down as well. The second camp thinks that this market is out of whack and that things will come back to normal and then they will be in better position. I am (mostly) in the second camp, but there are a lot of smart minds out there signing big players to big deals. So we'll see what happens.