State of free agency in the coming years...
Heard it touched upon in another post, but was wondering what everyone specifically thought the state of the free agency would be like over the next 1-5 years.
I look at teams like Boston (2/5 of their cap for the next 4 years consumed by two players), Toronto (over half of their cap-space taken up by 1 centerman and their top 4 defensemen), Anaheim (1/4 of their cap-space gone for 4 years), and wonder if they will be able to place a bid on any player, let's say, in the $5 million and up category over the next 3 or 4 years.
It can be said that, even if you managed to get the rest of your roster all signed up at below the league average (virtually impossible for a competative team) over half of your budget is spent. Considering, realistically, that these teams devoting $10-$15 million to their top two players, will also have a few $2 or $3 million commitments, either filling out the rest of the roster will max them out salary wise, or the team will have AHL depth and not be competative.
From the math that I can see, any team which goes out and spends in the neighbourhood of $10 million on one or two players this year has locked themselves out of the UFA season for the next 3-5 years - so they had better make sure that free agent is worth it (a few have been this season)
Looking at how things stand at the moment then, the following list of teams, I feel, have done their shopping for the next half a decade. The only way they will be able to make another purchase will be to sell off their current free-agents/existing high salary earners or seriously sacrifice some depth on their squad:
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Those are arguable, but even if it could be agreed that ten of those clubs have shopped themselves out of future markets, it can be seen that a team who waits will be facing far less competition for free agents in subsequent seasons.
I feel that under the new system, a team can really only afford to go after a big free agent two or three times in every 5 year span. Montreal has already got Kovalev. In the next 4 years you can expect a couple more signings I would think, but after looking at the bigger picture, don't bemoan Gainey for waiting until the market is a bit more attractive (buy low, sell high!)
Don't get your hopes too high, Montreal is never really a big player in the UFA market.
I believe waiting is not a bad option, as the UFA age drops over the next few years, teams who are not locked into the cap will be able to sign guys who are entering their prime to long term deals, not guys are on the back end of their prime.
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