'Free Agent Frenzy' hitting slow calm as August begins

Sean Leahy

Remember when we thought the opening of the NHL free agency period last month was going to be a busy time? Remember when it really wasn't the "frenzy" we expected after July 1st?

Remember when we started blaming the lack of signings on Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) being the domino that needed to fall? Remember when Kovalchuk signed and we prepared for a slew of breaking news?

Yeah, not so much.

It was silly to think Kovalchuk was holding up signings seeing as how he'd be setting the market price for exactly no one and only the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings were the ones waiting to hear what his answer would be.

It's now August 2nd and we're just weeks (!) away from training camps opening and there's still a ton of veteran free agents still looking for contracts, but according to our buddy Lyle Richardson, the combination of the salary cap and the numbers game on team rosters is why it's been a slow summer :

"The real factors adversely affecting the market are the lack of quality depth in available talent, a majority of teams having too little cap space to spend, and those which have space being under self-imposed salary caps much lower than the league's ceiling.

That's not to say those notable free agents still available won't be signed but rather they might find themselves signing deals considerable shorter and worth considerably less than they expected."

Like Marty Turco(notes), for example.

Guys like Paul Kariya(notes) ($6 million), Jose Theodore(notes) ($4.5 million) and Willie Mitchell(notes) ($3.5 million) were going to be taking less money anyway given the salary cap conditions of teams and their individual productions/health factoring in as well. And taking a look at the salary cap/roster number list of all 30 teams via CapGeek, there's more teams that need to clear money/roster space than those looking to add.

One of those teams that's adding is the Anaheim Ducks, who signed elbow height expert Andy Sutton(notes) to a two-year deal worth $4.25 million. As the Orange County Register's Eric Stephens pointed out, GM Bob Murray has the changed the look of the Ducks' blueline drastically in a matter of months having brought in Lubomir Visnovsky(notes), Toni Lydman(notes) and Sutton, while saying goodbye to Ryan Whitney(notes), Steve Eminger(notes) and James Wisniewski(notes).