Thursday, February 14, 2008

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.
We've heard an awful lot about all of the youngsters being locked up to long-term deals, but what hasn't been well publicized so far is the fact that the UFA age is dropping another two years this season, and as a result, some youngsters will be up for grabs.

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):


PLAYER POS TM Age 2007-08 GP
1 SCHULTZ, NICK D MIN 25.85 1,850,000 57
2 HALE, DAVID D CGY 27.04 590,000 43
3 JANCEVSKI, DAN D DAL 27.05 500,000 2
4 CALDWELL, RYAN D PHX 27.05 475,000 2
5 VRBATA, RADIM F PHX 27.05 1,225,000 51
6 MACKENZIE, DEREK F CBJ 27.06 500,000 2
7 LEIGHTON, MICHAEL G CAR 27.12 550,000 3
8 BERKHOEL, ADAM G DET 27.13 500,000 0
9 KOCI, DAVID F CHI 27.14 525,000 18
10 FORREST, JUSTIN D CAR 27.21 475,000 0

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:


PLAYER POS TM Age 2007-08 GP
1 SCHULTZ, NICK D MIN 25.85 1,850,000 57
2 HALE, DAVID D CGY 27.04 590,000 43
3 VRBATA, RADIM F PHX 27.05 1,225,000 51
4 HAINSEY, RON D CBJ 27.27 737,500 56
5 WELLER, CRAIG D PHX 27.29 475,000 39
6 JACKMAN, BARRET D STL 27.32 2,200,000 51
7 WINCHESTER, BRAD F DAL 27.34 475,000 28
8 TAFFE, JEFF F PIT 27.36 500,000 24
9 BEECH, KRIS F PIT 27.40 585,000 23
10 MCCARTHY, STEVE D ATL 27.41 725,000 35
11 SAUER, KURT D COL 27.46 719,250 29
12 AULD, ALEXANDER G BOS 27.48 600,000 22
13 MEYER, FRED D NYI 27.49 525,000 32
14 LILES, J-M D COL 27.60 1,325,000 56
15 RADIVOJEVIC, BRANKO F MIN 27.60 640,000 49
16 KELLY, CHRIS F OTT 27.64 1,262,500 58
17 MEZEI, BRANISLAV D FLA 27.73 825,000 46
18 ORPIK, BROOKS D PIT 27.76 1,037,500 53
19 VASICEK, JOSEF F NYI 27.80 750,000 57
20 COMRIE, MIKE F NYI 27.80 3,375,000 57
21 HALL, ADAM F PIT 27.88 525,000 44
22 WILLIAMS, JASON F CHI 27.89 1,600,000 20
23 HORDICHUK, DARCY F NSH 27.89 517,000 29
24 MOORE, DOMINIC F TOR 27.91 700,000 44
25 KALININ, DMITRI D BUF 27.94 2,000,000 34
26 HUNTER, TRENT F NYI 27.99 1,550,000 57
27 MIETTINEN, ANTTI F DAL 28.00 885,000 48
28 ELLIS, DAN G NSH 28.03 500,000 24
29 WOZNIEWSKI, ANDREW D TOR 28.10 500,000 48
30 RYAN, MICHAEL F BUF 28.13 475,000 42
31 AVERY, SEAN F NYR 28.23 1,900,000 34
32 WALKER, MATT D STL 28.23 600,000 20
33 RYDER, MICHAEL F MTL 28.25 2,950,000 49
34 JANIK, DOUG D T.B 28.27 475,000 42
35 BARCH, KRYSTOFER F DAL 28.27 475,000 34
36 GODARD, ERIC F CGY 28.32 475,000 49
37 VANDERMEER, JAMES D PHI 28.36 1,225,000 50
38 MONTADOR, STEVE D FLA 28.53 800,000 50
39 FINGER, JEFF D COL 28.54 475,000 53
40 HAGMAN, NIKLAS F DAL 28.57 675,000 60
41 MALONE, RYAN F PIT 28.58 1,375,000 52
42 COMMODORE, MIKE D CAR 28.65 1,250,000 43
43 STUART, BRAD D L.A 28.65 3,500,000 58
44 MARA, PAUL D NYR 28.82 3,000,000 51
45 RACHUNEK, KAREL D N.J 28.85 1,400,000 39

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:

4 Comments:

At 8:56 PM, February 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

Boo hoo. The Stars owner voted on the CBA, just like every other owner.

Players are finally getting what they deserve: whatever some dimwit owner will pay them. After 85 years of slavery.

 
At 10:14 PM, February 14, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

I'd be surprised if the Wild don't pay up and keep Schultz. Lemaire loves him, and he's exactly the kind of player the Wild want more of... great homegrown talent that knows their system better than they know their own mother.

It's unbelievable he's already free agent eligible, though. But he has been a legit top 4 d-man for about 4 seasons now.

Some of these guys will get eyebrow-raising deals on the open market. It's also hard to fathom that Hollywood Hainsey is already a UFA. Seriously, the guy barely cracked into the NHL!

 
At 1:30 AM, February 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is that these players still stay in the same league. If the teams were a little bit smarter they wouldn't sign their players to ridiculous amounts of dollars and term because they could next year sign another player just as good.

Salary cap will take care of that no team will get more than 4-5 of these top players. Let Vanek go and sign Hossa.

It's not that hard.

 
At 10:40 PM, February 15, 2008, Blogger Black Dog said...

OK so we have the older UFAs who are going to get paid.

And the RFAs who are getting big contracts.

And now these guys.

More and more I am thinking that teams are going to hit the cap hard and there are going to be a lot of players getting a lot less then we expect.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link


.

Free Page Rank Checker
eXTReMe Tracker