Sweet summer to be a free agent
Regardless of how your team fared during last week's free agent free-for-all, certain realities certainly came to light. The most obvious is that this summer was the best time ever to be a hockey player with moving rights.
Deals included both term (unless you're
The main reason for players having the luxury of very specific choice is sheer market force creating competition for a relative handful of highly-coveted players such as
But the supply and demand part of the equation doesn't begin and end there. With players achieving free agency at younger ages, there are more players of similar ilk -- in this case puck-moving rearguards -- available. Thus, the San Jose Sharks maneuvered to cover the loss of Campbell by first signing veteran
Boyle's availability was due to the Bolts committing resources elsewhere -- a conscious directional decision that centered on All-Star mainstay
On and on it went with regard to puck-moving defensemen. The New York Rangers landed
So, the market conditions seemed to work for teams of all shapes and sizes, with those willing to spend to the cap addressing needs and those operating nearer the floor doing likewise. Further, teams with long-established identities made moves that were true to their legacies -- the New Jersey Devils defined that strategy by returning
Sure, the allure of money and the unknown was also present, especially with the litany of moves made by the Lightning, who have new ownership and a new coach, and made no fewer than five free-agent signings on top of their major trade with the Sharks. Still, the Hossa signing in Detroit at once caught everyone off guard, proving that all things being more equal than ever, players are now able to make personal decisions based on their hockey wants, needs and desires more so than ever before.
Hossa left long-term money and tenure on the table to play for the Red Wings. Some would say he is crazy for inking only a one-year contract for just less than $7.5 million when the Pittsburgh Penguins offered nearly $7 million per annum over seven seasons. But that view misses the point. Hossa had options. He could pick and choose based on his perspective and no one else's. The Red Wings have cache right now as a hockey destination because of how they play, how they win and how they treat their players. Hossa accepted a mercenary short-term deal that didn't pay more than the Red Wings' artificial cap of "no one should make more on this team than captain
That made sense to Hossa and it didn't have to add up for anyone else, which is the ultimate definition of market independence. It's an extreme case on its own, but the NHL signing period has proven like never before that