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Are you ready for UFA Day?

Tuesday, 06.30.2009 / 10:21 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

 
Wednesday is such an important day for hockey fans that in Canada, it's a national holiday (Canada Day).

While many Canadian fans will have the day off from work, allowing them to follow the frenzy of UFA signing day, I do hope you will be able to follow the signings that are about to happen.

As of 7 a.m. this morning, I am on full alert and won't be leaving my computer very much for the next few days. Signings will begin today, players who are scheduled to be UFAs tomorrow will sign with their current team, thus avoiding hitting the free-agent market. I know many of you are hoping your home team player does decide to stay, but you also know many won't. They want to test their value and see if a better deal awaits them on the open market.

Also be prepared for the unexpected, not only regarding signings, but with a few trades too. Teams may have to move a player or two in order to fit a newly acquired free agent within their salary cap structure. So players may be traded to put the team cap within its boundaries.

One thing that stands out for me from the UFA signing period from last season was the shocking news that Marian Hossa had agreed to sign with the Detroit Red Wings. When I first heard the news I remember thinking 'This is a joke.' Not until I made a few phone calls to verify the signing did I believe it.

That type of "shock" may be in the cards for your team this year.  It is always the unexpected signing, the one that comes out of left field, that surprises us the most and I guarantee you we will witness that type of signing within a few days.

We all know the big names that may become available at noon ET on July 1st, but do remember, a signing of a player that falls under your radar may actually be a better move than signing one of the big names. Along with a big-name signing comes much more risk.  Will the player live up to expectations, can her perform on a nightly basis or will team chemistry be challenged?

On the other hand, a lesser-known player just may be a better fit for your team.  Most likely, this type of player gives his all every game, earns his playing time on a nightly basis and usually is a perfect fit in the dressing room too. A few of these types of players may just make your team a lot better than signing that one superstar.

Let's get back to your plans for UFA day. Are you going to pay special attention to all the moves that are about to come? Are you working or do you plan to be sick tomorrow? Will you be glued to NHL.com, the NHL Network (NHL Live from noon-2pm ET, then NHL on TSN: Frenzy 2pm-6pm ET) and hitting refresh numerous times on your favorite hockey website?

My time will be spent in front of a computer, with the TV tuned to NHL Network and I will also be streaming three radio stations all while surfing the web for the latest signing.  I have prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner in advance and just need to pop them into the microwave when I get the urge for some nourishment.

Whatever your plans are, I hope you enjoy the day. It seems as the years go by, the UFA signing day becomes bigger and bigger.  All the signing and trade talk we have heard over the last few months finally comes to a head and we can now look forward to a new season.

Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Champs GearAll teams are 0-0-0 now, but with the signings and trades that are about to become reality, a few teams will look better on paper than others, but remember, the games still need to be played, all 82 of them.

This is only the beginning of the season, we won't know how this all turns out until sometime in June, 2010.  I can't wait but will be watching every night and you should too.

Questions or comments, feel free to leave one below or email me at pk@kuklaskorner.com.


Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential