Should the current CBA impasse turn into another season-killer and a new agreement isn’t implemented until sometime next summer, it would have an adverse impact on teams with notable unrestricted free agents.
Over the course of a season, teams have plenty of time to negotiate with their UFAs – especially their most talented ones – in hopes of hammering out new contracts prior to their free agent eligibility July 1.
In recent years, more pending free agents were re-signed well before that date, resulting in a considerable drop of available talent in the UFA market.
But with no CBA in place, GMs cannot begin formal contract negotiations with players and their agents.
If the lockout wipes out the entire season, player contracts for 2012-13 won’t be carried over into next season, unless the league and NHL Players’ Association agree to do so (highly unlikely).
If the new CBA isn’t implemented until next summer, there would be considerably more UFA players available than in recent years.
It would be a free agent market deep in notable forwards. Looking for a top right winger? Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, Anaheim’s Corey Perry, and Carolina’s Alexander Semin could be available.
Need more talent on the left side? Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul, Dallas’ Brenden Morrow, and San Jose’s Ryane Clowe could be had.
Seeking a scoring center? Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, New Jersey’s Travis Zajac, Florida’s Stephen Weiss, Detroit’s Valtteri Filppula and Washington’s Mike Ribeiro are unsigned beyond the coming season.
Want quality depth on the blueline? Vancouver’s Alexander Edler, Buffalo’s Robyn Regehr, and the NY Islanders’ Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky could be yours if the price is right.
In need of an experienced starting goaltender? Look no further than Phoenix’s Mike Smith, Boston’s Tim Thomas, Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, or Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.
That’s just the cream of the 2013 UFA crop.
Dallas Stars right winger Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey Devils center Patrik Elias, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, Ottawa Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar, St. Louis Blues left winger Andy McDonald and New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov may be aging, but they could still attract interest in next summer’s UFA market.
Anaheim Ducks right winger Teemu Selanne and Ottawa Senators right winger Daniel Alfredsson have been excluded, as it is expected they’ll retire if this lockout wipes out the entire season.
The pool of secondary talent would also be deep. Notables include Boston Bruins right winger Nathan Horton, Dallas Stars center Derek Roy, Edmonton Oilers blueliner Ryan Whitney, Dallas Stars right winger Michael Ryder, L.A. Kings left winger Dustin Penner, New Jersey Devils right winger David Clarkson and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey.
Should the lockout be resolved to salvage this season, it could prompt a rush of re-signings by NHL clubs intent on retaining their best pending UFA talent.
But if this isn’t sorted out until next summer, it would result in a free agent bonanza not seen since the implementation of the last CBA in the summer of 2005.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla’s Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.