After all of this with Spezza, and with the impending draft, I thought I’d reach out and see what I can gather from a few contacts around the league.
Fortunately, I found one enjoying the afternoon and, I suspect, after a few libations, eager to talk.
Here’s the scoop;
“Don’t expect much until after the NHLPA vote later today, or early tomorrow. Until the GM’s know what comes out of the vote on invoking the escalator clause, they can’t really know where the cap will be, and no GM in their right mind wants to paint themselves into a corner at such a critical time in the off season.”
“As for roster changes, the most interesting development will probably come out of trades, not signings. A number of clubs have a real deep need to make changes, whether as a result of cap pressure, budget pressure, or just re-tooling, and some pretty intriguing players are on the market, for the right price.”
“GM’s have become much more comfortable with working in a cap world, and are more cognizant of the real demands of such an environment. No longer are GM’s facing counterparts looking to move salary for little or nothing coming back in return. The league went through a growing period where some GM’s still tried to work deals from the pre-cap perspective, either these GM’s are gone, or they’ve been left dancing alone for so long they’re more ready to adjust their expectations accordingly.”
“The only name in the UFA crop this year is Kovalchuk, but honestly, either teams don’t have the space to sign him at his salary demands, or don’t have the real cash to do it. His salary might, might set the new bar for elite players. Gone may be the days of 8+M UFA signings…then again, maybe not (laughs).”
“Make no mistake, there is a tremendous amount of activity going on behind the scenes, maybe more than there has been in years. Seeing two consecutive years of Cup winning teams, led by young talent, has left many GM’s wondering why they would fork out big money, and cap space, for ageing veterans via UFA signings.”
“The top 2 picks are inviolate, they may switch hands, but there’s no way they’re going to a third party, absolutely no way. Edmonton needs that pick to re-build, and Boston knows the #2 pick over-all is akin to winning the Lotto MAX. This years draft is solid in the top 3, sound through 20 and all but a crap shoot there-after.”
“Is Spezza on the block, yeah, just like all but Crosby, Ovechkin and Toews. Will he be traded, at the risk of looking the fool, absolutely no chance. He’s all but irreplaceable, for better or worse. What I do know, for certain, there are 25 teams out there who would love to have Jason in a hometown sweater, 7M or not.”
So there you have it folks…FWIW.