Free agency musings
A day after the NHL free agency signing period opened hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, players are looking for real estate agents in their new homes and agents across the league may still be suffering from their celebrations last night.
And the Calgary Flames have inked a single player in Chris Butler, the restricted free agent acquired in the Robyn Regehr trade.
I understand why some fans are antsy. Teams all over the league are drastically changing their rosters (I'm looking at you, Florida Panthers) and the Flames haven't even made a ripple, let alone a wave.
However, I view this as a good thing. Attempts were made to significantly upgrade the forward group thanks to joining the hunt for pivot Brad Richards but the cards were stacked against the Flames in this case - no matter how much money was put on the table. While it's not conclusive, reports indicate Richards wanted to play in the East and being able to play for the coach that took him all the way to the Stanley Cup in 2004 had to be a driving factor as well. So, while I applaud Jay Feaster for taking a run at the most talented UFA on the market, I'm not shocked by Richards choice to head to New York.
Also, Richards price tag would have left the club without cap flexibility. Yes, he's talented but his cost could have handcuffed the Flames if more salary wasn't dumped.
As for not signing a defenceman to fill the top-four role left by Regehr, all I can say is 'Whew.' Have you see the kind of money defencemen were commanding yesterday? James Wisniewski is now earning $5.5 million for the next six years and no disrespect to him but compared to a player like Mark Giordano (earning $4.02 million next season) ... wait, there isn't a comparison there. I'm sure Wisniewski will do well in Columbus but do I think his play is worth the kind of money they gave him? No. I think he happened to become a UFA at the right time.
Feaster has said he would rather wait for the dust to settle on the free agent feeding frenzy and then start to look at players available via free agency or trade. Right now, the asking price is just too high for the kind of return you're going to get.
Trades seem like the most likely route for Feaster & crew. At the moment, there are still 10 teams under the cap floor. Some of them have already overpaid free agents to help them get there and still aren't quite there. They'll be looking to take on some salary through trades which bodes well for the Flames cap situation & their ability to bring in young talent.
Four teams - the Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators and New York Islanders - aren't even at the $40,000,000 mark yet. They definitely have to be considered for trading options for teams around the league. They also all boast a ton of prospects and draft picks.
So, the Flames may not have made a splash on July 1st. So what? If it takes until training camp to get an idea of what the final roster is going to look like, so be it. In this case, patience is key.
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