The young UFAs
One of the most important and dramatic changes in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement was the age of unrestricted free agency, which was dropped to 27 for most players — and as low as 25 for some — coming out of the lockout.
Now, the difference between a 27-year-old free agent and a 35-year-old one is incredible: Not only will you get much more use out of a player's peak years, but you'll also avoid the increased risk that involves aged players. Under the CBA, any multi-year contract given to a 35-year-old free agent will count against the cap regardless of whether or not the player plays out the full deal.
In other words, if Brian Rolston signs in Tampa Bay for, let's say, $15-million over three years and retires after next season, there will be a cap hit of $5-million for the Lightning the next two seasons.
Here is a list of this year's 28-and-under unrestricted free agents (sorted by age then 2007-08 cap hit; noteables in blue):
We've heard a ton about how restricted free agents are getting big contracts under the new CBA, but young unrestricted free agents are truly on the open market and will be overpaid even more than an RFA coming off an entry level deal.
Some of these players, like Orpik, Sauer and Avery, are going to be paid based on their potential despite having been in the league for a few years.
Labels: free agency