In speaking to one player agent, there is some surprise that there are so many free agents still available on the NHL market. Some have not seen it this high in a very long time - over 60% of free agents remain available.
Here are some of the available players: Bill Guerin, Andy Sutton, Marty Turco, Miroslav Satan, Lee Stempniak, Paul Karya, Willie Mitchell, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brendan Morrison, Maxim Afinogenov, Kim Johnsson and John Madden.
While a lot of teams would like to sign some of these players, the present cap system won't really allow it for now. Teams with little cap room will opt to sign a player at the league minimum of $500,000 rather than pay a veteran player $1.5 or $2 million. For those players that sign a new contract when they are 35 or older, there is an added wrinkle: for that type of player, his average salary is counted against the team's salary cap during every year of the contract, even if the player retires before the contract is up (if the player is sent to the minor leagues, his cap hit is reduced by $100,000).
So for players like Guerin and Sutton, finding a multi-year deal might be tough as teams may not want to take that risk. Add on top of that these players want more than the league minimum, and we have a free agency logjam. Multi-year deals like the one awarded to Gonchar are rare. If he retires before his 3 year deal is up, the Senators are stuck with his salary.
According to Ottawa Sun columnist, Bruce Garrioch, there are still teams with a lot of cap space, including New York Islanders, Colorado, Atlanta, St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas, Anaheim, Carolina and Los Angeles.
The Avs still have about $8 million to get to the salary cap floor.
A lot of the available free agents may find homes in the NHL. However, don't be surprised to see short term deals of 1 year, particularly for those players 35 and older.
James Mirtle of The Globe And Mail has assembled a list of available free agents. You can knock Devin Setoguchi off the list who signed yesterday.