This is my latest entry from my BlogTalkRadio show page. I have been updating that blog much more than this one lately, but, not to worry, I will be updating this one over the next week, "in my spare time", to include the blogs from the past couple of months. Here is today's blog and Happy Hockey Christmas 2009!
An annual rite of summer, the free agency period is about to begin at noon ET today. It is also Canada Day, so Canadians have the good fortune to have a holiday from work. For us in the States, we have to be a little more discreet about our hockey fanaticism today.
It is a travel day for me, so I am trying to leave after the craziness begins, but early enough to catch the last couple of hours of TSN coverage, which will run from 2-6pm ET on NHL Network in the US. My recommendation is to tune in to NHL Live! on NHL.com, if you are not by a television, or the NHL Network for the simulcast, if you are by a TV.
We will chat about the free agent frenzy at 7pm on Sports With The StatMan (#14), so please tune in for a recap of what has gone on so far and what may happen in the next few days.
As I said on the show last week (#13), the free agency signing period may be slower than the past few years, as the salary cap has had a few years to sink in and teams are not as willing to jump into the deep end of the pool.
For some light reading before noon ET, when the doors to the candy store open, I would recommend joining the Twitter revolution (I just did last week). I am "gstatman" and I have compiled a good group of people to latch onto for the latest information, including Darren Dreger of TSN, Kevin Allen of USA Today, Sean Leahy, better known as the Puck Daddy, Craig Custance of the Sporting News, and, of course, the rumor mill of them all, Eklund from HockeyBuzz.com. Following the festivities this way add a whole new dimension, trust me. Also, websites like http://www.tsn.ca/ (thanks, NHL Free Agent Tracker) and NHLNumbers.com to see what the cap hit is for every player in the NHL, including new ones as they are signed, and how much cap space is left for teams.
As we delve into free agency, here are the cap numbers for the local teams in the Northeast Corridor, according to NHLNumbers.com. Remember, the salary cap is at $56.8 million:
* Boston - $7.865M cap space, 15 players signed (ranks 24th in cap space)
* New York Islanders - $25.765M cap space, 17 players signed (ranks 4th in cap space)
* New York Rangers - $25.336M cap space, 9 players signed (ranks 5th in cap space)
* New Jersey - $13.367M cap space, 15 players signed (ranks 18th in cap space)
* Philadelphia - $4.249M cap space, 18 players signed (ranks 30th -- dead last -- in cap space)
* Washington - $12.520M cap space, 14 players signed (ranks 20th in cap space)
This will help define the shopping list, but do not rule out the possibility of trades on the first day of free agency to clear out cap space. The Rangers did this by dealing Scott Gomez on a seemingly unsuspecting Montreal Canadiens, acquiring the moderately-priced Long Island-native Chris Higgins, who represents the type of finishers the Rangers desperately need. It was a win-win for the Rangers, getting rid of a lot of salary for a guy who can score goals. The extra room will be put to use today, as they will either make a deal for Dany Heatley (if he does not go to the Oilers) or get themselves an impact player via trade (Lecavalier?) or free agency (Sedins?).
Basketball has had a salary cap for a lot longer than the NHL, so you can look to what they do this time of year. Sign-and-trades are in vogue in the NBA and the NHL will undoubtedly follow suit in the near future as NHL GMs continue to acclimate themselves to a salary cap world.
Personally, I am leaving milk and cookies for Garth Snow -- the second time in a week I have done so -- with a note for my Hockey Christmas list. Last Friday, my draft list was answered, and John Tavares became an Islander. Today, my list contains a 1A goaltender, a tough forward to ride shotgun with Tavares, and a responsible signing that provides another spark to the franchise while being young enough to be considered part of the "core". Let's see if Santa Snow can come through again.
Next show: Tonight (July 1st) at 7pm ET right here at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/The-StatMan.