Each year in the NHL, a player who’s contract is up ends on July 1st. This means that on the same day, many players are looking for new places to play the following season. It is a busy day as NHL General Managers try and convince the best players available to come play for their team, while also trying to figure out if they can afford them. There are three days each year that drastically alter what an NHL roster looks like – Trade Deadline Day, Draft Day, and Free Agency Day. This is the day when GMs look at what is missing on their teams, and try to find free agent players that fit that mold. Some years there are superstars on the market, and there will be many teams competing to try and sign the player. If a GM makes smart moves on Free Agency Day, he can set his team up for success in the future. Failure to sign the players you need however, or signing players that are not a good fit, can lead to failures. This year, there are not as many big names hitting the open market, but that will not stop the GMs from pursuing them. Below is a quick summary of what to expect come Free Agency Day.
– Matt Belesky is considered by many to be the best forward that will be available on July 1st. However, this says more about the Free Agency class than it does about Belesky. While Belesky is a good player, he does not put up the big numbers like other players in the league. But since he is the best option on the market, he can expect a rather large payday. It is almost guaranteed that some General Manager will pay him more than he is worth simply because they are desperate to improve their club.
– There are several players who are restricted free agents this summer, and this may lead to some GMs worrying about offer sheets. With a restricted Free Agent, they can listen to offers from other teams and sign a contract with them, but their original team has the right to either match the offer and keep the player, or receive compensation in the form of draft picks if they choose to let the player go. One big name that could be given an offer sheet is Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are already spending a lot of money on their other players, and as such they do not have a lot of room. Saad is a skilled, young player that most teams in the league would love to have. Knowing Chicago’s salary problems, they may hope to sign him away, or at the very least make it harder for Chicago to other players into the roster.
– Lastly, it will be interesting to see where Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green ends up. At one point Green was one of the most electrifying players on the ice, but his play has dipped over the past few seasons. With Washington unlikely to be able to afford him, some team will most likely pay him a lot of money to sign with them. It remains to be seen however if Green can regain his old form and live up to the contract he is likely going to get.