One thing we have talked about this offseason repeatedly is the need for the Caps to find a 2nd line center, 2nd line right wing, and an impact D-man. Even though it is unlikely that the Caps will try to address these deficits through free agency because of the high cost, the possiblity always exists.
However, will the usual business of free agency change this offseason? With an expected reduction of the salary cap in 2010-11, regardless of how small, GM's are having to take an even closer look at how they are manageing their funds. That would mean, I assume, that teams are going to be hesitant to offer long term deals to free agents considering cap liablity.
Also, the talent pool in free agency seems kind of weird this year. The structure of free agency, most players hitting unrestricted status only after reaching their 27th birthday or later, means that you definitely know what you are getting when you sign one of these guys. There are usually not too many guys on the upswing of their careers, but they have a proven track record and as a GM you usually know what to expect. This year though, it seems like most of the big names are well beyond their primes, and made big money for questionable production (my assumption).
With that in mind, is it possible that we see a year where in general free agents might sign contracts making less money than they did in their last contract? Lets take a look at some of the guys and see if it makes sense. For the sake of just looking at guys who make a lot of money, since money is the argument, I'll only look at guys making $3million and more.
Name Position Age 2008 Salary Points
Mats Sundin C 38 $7 million 9-19-28
Joe Sakic C 39 $6 million 2-10-12
Saku Koivu C 34 $4.27 million 16-34-50
Mike Comrie C 28 $4 million 10-17-27
Sergei Fedorov C 39 $4 million 11-22-33
Robert Lang C 38 $4 million 18-21-39
Mike Cammalleri C 27 $3.6 million 39-43-82
Henrik Sedin C 28 $3.575 mill 22-60-82
Steve Sullivan C 34 $3.2 million 11-21-32
Marion Gaborik RW 27 $7.5 million 13-10-23
Marion Hossa RW 30 $7.45 million 40-31-71
Martin Havlat RW 28 $6 million 29-48-77
Bill Guerin RW 38 $4.5 million 21-27-48
Alexei Kovalev RW 36 $4.5 million 26-36-65
Brian Gionta RW 30 $4 million 20-40-60
Maxim Afinogenov RW 29 $3.5 million 6-14-20
Miroslav Satan RW 34 $3.5 million 19-19-36
Alex Tanguay LW 29 $5.375 mill 16-25-41
Keith Tkachuk LW 37 $4.5 million 25-24-49
Jere Lehtenin LW 36 $4.1 million 8-16-24
Erik Cole LW 30 $4 million 18-24-42
Daniel Sedin LW 28 $3.575 31-51-82
Scott Niedermayer D 35 $6.750 14-45-59
Mathieu Schneider D 40 $5.75 9-23-32
Sergei Zubov D 38 $5.35 0-4-4
Rob Blake D 39 $5 million 10-35-45
Jay Bouwmeester D 25 $4.875 15-27-42
Adrian Aucoin D 35 $4 million 10-24-34
Derek Morris D 30 $3.75 million 5-15-20
Derian Hatcher D 37 $3.5 million 2-5-7
Mattius Ohlund D 32 $3.5 6-19-25
Christian Backman D 29 $3.4 million 2-5-7
Jaroslav Spacek D 35 $3.3 million 8-37-35
Filip Kuba D 32 $3 million 3-37-40
Wow. I hate when I start off with what I think is a perfectly good assumption, and then my research proves me completely wrong. There really weren't as many 35+ year olds as I thought, and most of these free agents had pretty decent years. I don't know if they are worth what they are paid, but with a few exceptions, probably don't see anything real out of line.
Obviously you would have to be careful with any of these guys over age 36. Other than Tkachuk, Guerin, and Kovalev none of them really had very good numbers anyway. But those guys are at or near the end of their careers anyway. Don't see any time signing anyone over age 36 for longer than a 1 year contract.
I know it is silly to grade the defensive guys by points production, but that is what I was looking at for everyone else. Regardless, most of those guys had better offensive numbers than anyone on our blueline not named Green. I would expect that most of you know what the guys on the D list here bring more than I do anyway. But again, probably don't see anyone who didn't earn their contract.
In conclusion, my assumptions were flawed. The free agent list isn't just overpaid hasbeens this year. There is a pretty good amount of solid 30-35 year old veterans, and a few under 30 studs who are going to get paid. Except for the retirement age guys, and the injured guys, it really looks like most of these guys played up to their contracts, and probably will take an increase in pay in the upcoming season. It will be interesting to see what gyrations the teams go through in the coming cap years after signing these guys.