The opening of free agency July 1 isn’t what it used to be, mainly because most of the league’s star players get signed to lucrative long-term extensions and never make it to market. If you look at the numbers – almost 100 players signed as free agents last July 1 – you might think all 30 teams’ front offices are a beehive of activity, and for some of them that may indeed be the case.
But a number of GMs insist that while July 1 is a big day on the hockey calendar, it’s not as frantic as some might expect. “Everyone has different needs, and you have to decide if free agency is the way to go or if you are you better off to make a trade,” said Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill. “We’re all locking up players, deciding what the core of the team is. The core is six to eight players, and we are locking them up to four-to-eight-year contracts.”
How active a team is when the free agency officially opens depends on a number of things. If a team thinks it can win the Stanley Cup, it may fine-tune its roster with a few moves. Or it could be a significant makeover, as Rangers GM Glen Sather did after a Cup final loss in 2014. New York led all teams with eight signings (seven from different organizations) July 1. Three others – the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, and New York Islanders – signed six. Read more