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Free agent season to begin soon

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
With the July 1st deadline looming on the horizon, the excitement among hockey fans is hitting fever pitch.  Since the first sunny days of summer, teams across the NHL have been prepping for one of the most crucial building periods of the year: free agent season.  As the clock winds down, here’s a look at how NHL GMs are arming themselves to battle for the best unclaimed talent the league has to offer.

Table updated 29th of June 2009
Teams Players signed Space left on cap (in M$) Teams Players signed Space left on cap (in M$)
13 27,8 15 21
   15  7,9 17  4,6
 15  10,5 12  21
   16  12,7  18  17,2
 13 21,5   15 10,7
12 27,5 18  14,6
   14 23,2  16 5,5
   15 13,4 18  10,9
  17 25,8  20 17
9 25,3  17 14
   21  5,7  15 26,3
   18  4,2 14 7
  17 5,8 21  13,6
14 21,2 13 23
16 16,9 14 12,5
Few Players, Lots of Space

The Canadiens are sitting pretty as the most flexible team in the league, counting more available salary cap space than any other franchise.  With $27,5 million at their disposal and just 12 players currently under contract, the Habs’ decision makers have plenty of room to work with when planning out next season’s roster makeup.  The Blackhawks are treading in similarly calm waters with the same number of players inked to contracts and a hefty $21 million on hand.  With 13 players currently on board, the Thrashers are also poised to strike with $27 million burning a hole in their pockets.

Given the number of players set to hit the open market on July 1st, these three teams will have the most freedom to persuade a superstar or two to join their ranks for the upcoming campaign.

Lots of Players, Little Space

At the other end of the spectrum, there are some NHL teams bursting at the seams with personnel and their respective cap hits.   The Red Wings, Senators and Flyers all have less than six million dollars in cap space left to lure in free agent this summer.  With so little breathing room available, these three clubs’ lineups are shaping up to look almost identical to their 2008-09 counterparts.

With the Draft Day acquisition of Chris Pronger from Anaheim, the Flyers officially became the team with the least cap space on hand, keeping just $4.2 million in their piggy banks to sign another potential difference maker this year.

In the case of the Red Wings, consistency is the name of the game. The nucleus of the team that has won a Stanley Cup and reached the Cup Final over the past two seasons will stay in tact and will look to compete for the ultimate prize again in 2009-10.   

Few Players, Little Space

The summer is shaping up to be a little trickier for the Sharks, the Avalanche and the Rangers, who already have a big chunk of salary tied up in a small number of players. In the case of San Jose, the Sharks have 14 players currently inked for the upcoming season, but only $7 million left to spend on July 1st. The Avs have 15 players on hand for next year and only $10,7 million to fill out the rest of the roster spots.  Finally, the Blueshirts have 9 players currently calling Madison Square Garden home, leaving them just $25,3 million to round out the lineup.   

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for Translated by Shauna Denis.

See also:
Talk about free agent on the fan forum
Offseason tracker
Smash and grab
Market fresh
View More