Being young and free
The NHL's new breed of UFAs
Under the collective bargaining agreement, a player aged 29, with eight seasons in the league, became a free agent for the 2006-07 season. In 2008-09, a player aged 27, or one with seven seasons in the league, becomes an unrestricted free agent.
By my count, there are 93 pending UFAs who are under 29 at the moment, although that includes quite a few of what you'd call 'fringe' players.
Here's a look at the 10 youngest potential UFAs this year (age as of July 1):
There's a lot of 'who' in there.
The Wild are still really pushing to get Schultz on a contract, and the underrated free agent defenceman would probably command quite a bit more than one would expect as a free agent.
And given he's still only 25, at least until August, teams can still bid on someone with 'potential,' which seems to be where the money's going lately.
Here's a look at all of the pending UFAs under age 29 who have played 20 games this season:
There are some really solid names on there, and especially on defence, and there's a ton more 'youth' up for grabs than prelockout, when only players aged 31 and over were up for grabs, both on July 1 and as rental players at the trade deadline.
This time around, rentals can be those in their prime.
In addition to Schultz, Hainsey, Jackman, Sauer, Liles and Commodore are going to do well for themselves in the off-season on the blueline. Up front, Vrbata's had a career year in Phoenix and is on pace for about 35 goals, and Jason Williams was playing great in Chicago before he was hurt.
Antti Miettinen and Niklas Hagman in Dallas are two more 'breakout' players, who should earn big paydays, while it's going to be interesting to see what someone like Sean Avery gets on the open market.
On the whole, however, there aren't a ton of marquee names among this group: Most of the youth has opted for security and signed on the dotted line already.
What makes this new, lower age tough to swallow for some teams, like the Stars, is that they've drafted and developed a lot of these players, watched them become more productive over time, only to have them signed away after one solid year.
It'll be interesting to see if teams overpay for these young UFAs.
"I think we have a free agency age that is a joke.".
Labels: free agency