Money can't buy you goals
I was working on something on this about a month ago, and never got around to posting it, but if you take a look at the impact unrestricted free agency has had on the scoring race this season, it'll surprise you. (Spector has a good look through the list of moves.)
Of the top 25 scorers in the NHL in 2007-08, not a single one was acquired as a UFA last summer. You've got to go all the way down to 28th and 37th to find Daniel Briere and Scott Gomez, bought up for ridiculous contracts that will pay them into old age, who both had underwhelming seasons in the 70-point range.
For all of the other big contracts given out last summer — Ryan Smyth, Paul Kariya, Chris Drury, Jason Blake, Michael Nylander, Sheldon Souray — very few translated to big numbers.
Looking at the top scorers this season, here's how it breaks down when it comes to how they were acquired:
Top 25 scorers
draft 68%, trade 24%, free agency 8%
Top 50 scorers
draft 58%, trade 28%, free agency 14%
In other words, only two players in the top 25 scorers this season, Martin St. Louis and Marc Savard, were acquired as unrestricted free agents. (And even then, St. Louis was signed for a song way back in 2000.)
And 17 of the top 25 scorers this season are still playing with the team that drafted them.
That's a group led by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, but there are players who have been around longer there, too, including Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson and Shane Doan.
The six traded players who sit among the leaders include Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Alex Kovalev, Mike Ribeiro, Dany Heatley and Mats Sundin.
The lesson here is, if you're a team like Toronto or Vancouver that will be looking to add a scorer via free agency in the off-season, be prepared to (a) overpay and (b) receive dwindling production.
The UFA age may have come down considerably the past few years, but for the most part, the real stars are staying home to put up big numbers.
Labels: free agency