Free agent frenzy has come to an end and now signings are trickling in weekly. There's plenty of free agent storylines that have been dragged out since July 1 and will likely see a conclusion as training camp creeps up.
With that in mind, we asked Puck Buddy's and Rumors Chat special guests Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey and FOX Sports and Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period five quick questions regarding the future of the salary cap, the remaining free agents, Dany Heatley(notes) and Mats Sundin(notes), and winners and losers in free agency.
Let's get this out of the way: How does this Dany Heatley mess end? New uniform or starting wing for the Senators on opening night?
LYLE: Heatley will probably be back with the Senators. There doesn't appear to be a market for his services.
DAVE: It's a 50/50 shot right now, but I'm leaning towards it getting done, likely just before the start of the season. Once training camp rolls around, teams will have a better idea of what they do and don't have. Whether it's San Jose, Los Angeles or another club, someone's going to step up at some point.
The 2010-11 salary cap has been a big topic of discussion for most of this past season. Do you think it will go down drastically as many have suspected or will it keep at the level it's been?
LYLE: If you asked me that earlier this year I would've agreed the cap would fall to around $52 million but now I'm not so sure it'll fall at all. Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail noted last month playoff revenue was good for the league and season ticket sales were better than expected. Even a hard-hit economically town like Buffalo, whose team missed the playoffs the past two seasons, sold out their season tickets, and earlier than expected. Ticket sales in Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Washington have been strong, and the value of the Canadian dollar has surged this summer. While it remains to be seen how other revenue streams pan out during the upcoming season the early signs suggest the cap could remain at its current number of $56.8 million.
DAVE: From all accounts, the salary cap is likely to drop for the 2010-11 season, but I don't believe it will be dramatic. There are many factors that come into play. We could see new rivalries brewing this season, which could lead to higher ticket and merchandise sales. Television revenues could also be on the rise, and it's being projected that the economy will start to see a shift in the right direction starting in the new calendar year. The "sale" of the Phoenix Coyotes will also play a factor in terms of potentially influencing the salary cap; a higher bid means more money all around, which isn't only beneficial for the creditors. I still believe, as of today, that it will drop - that's what everyone's been planning for - but I don't expect it to be a $5 million drop.
There are plenty of notable names out on the free agent market like Robert Lang(notes), Manny Fernandez(notes), Petr Sykora(notes), Alex Tanguay(notes) and Todd Bertuzzi(notes) among others. Do you see a lot of the bigger names remaining entering training camp without a job? Are they pricing themselves out of the market?
LYLE: Some of those UFAs will be signed between now and mid-September, especially those (like Tanguay) who'll have to lower their asking price, but some undoubtedly will have to swallow their pride and accept training camp tryout invitations. Those five you listed certainly could become training camp invitees.
DAVE: It's quite possible. Most teams wanted to get the big-boys out of the way first; August is also the second official round of free-agent signings... there's even an internal (unofficial) nickname for them. Most teams believe they're set at this point, but the addition of someone like a Sykora or Tanguay or Bertuzzi could always help, if they're willing to sign for a significant discount. An agent's job is to maximize the potential revenue their clients generate, and sometimes they win handsomely. Ask a few GMs out there, not many expected Derek Morris(notes) to sign for $3.3 million, but Boston did. That's a big thumbs up to the agent for getting that completed. I'm sure a few players will still be available next month, and they're going to have to bite the bullet, sign a one-year deal at less money, and prove their worth.
Mats Sundin: Does he come back to Vancouver or finally hang them up? Why?
LYLE: He hangs 'em up at last. We've heard nothing from him this summer and there's been no interest in him from teams this summer, certainly not like there was a year ago. I realize Sundin usually takes his sweet time on these things but this year the climate seems different.
DAVE: Not unless he signs for a discount. I don't see anybody signing Sundin for anything close to what he made last season. If he returns, I'd see something around the $1.5M - $2M range. Whether he returns or not, I don't know. Frankly, I don't really care. I'm getting a little tired of certain players taking advantage of their star status and waiting way too long to pick a team, or make a decision. They're grown men, they should know by know what they want to do.
Give me two teams that won and two that lost in free agency this summer. Anyone set themselves up nicely, salary cap-wise, with an eye on the future?
LYLE: Given the lack of quality talent available in this summer's market it's tough to determine winners and losers. I think the Rangers and Wild are losers because they invested big money on two talented but injury-prone wingers. The Canadiens might be winners with their massive overhaul provided all those new additions can gel well with the rest of the Habs, otherwise it could get ugly. The Leafs are winners for bolstering their blueline depth with Komisarek and Beauchemin.
DAVE: Winners: Chicago... and not only because of Hossa, even though he'll start playing later in the season. I really like the additions of Kopecky and John Madden(notes), in particular. Stanley Cup contenders need players with rings and they need defensive minded star forwards to battle against the opposition's top line. That's John Madden. It was a great signing and something the Hawks will really benefit from.
Toronto... A tough decision, but I really like how the Leafs stacked up on the blueline with the additions of Beauchemin and Komisarek. Not only that, they also m
Losers: I don't think there were any clear cut losers out there. Some may argue that certain teams overpaid. Well I've got news for you... if they didn't, some other team would have, so instead of bitching about that team, you'd be complaining about the other.
Unofficially, I'd say Edmonton would be a loser only because the Heatley situation messed with their flow. They wanted to add a big-name winger, and they thought they got their man. Waiting as long as they did might have kept them from attracting another free agent up front.
If I had to choose another team, I'd probably pick San Jose. They only guy they added was Scott Nichol(notes), and with all due respect to Scott, he's not the only thing they need right now. This is another team handcuffed by not making a trade they wanted, as they've been trying to move guys like Jonathan Cheechoo(notes) to free up some cap space.