From: Hasbrouck, Kevin S, NLNS
Sent: Monday, July ://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
Let the shopping begin!
(July 1) The NHL's silly season is on. When the clock struck midnight July 1, NHL teams that have been bemoaning the financial state of the game began throwing obscene amounts of money at a handful of star players.
This year's crop is top heavy with goal-scoring forwards and goaltenders and pretty lean on the blueline. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers will be the ones driving this year's free agent market.
Up front, Bill Guerin of the Boston Bruins will likely be the most sought after commodity. there isn't a team in the league that couldn't use a power forward who can score like Guerin, and Dallas is one of many teams expected to make a big play for him.
Bobby Holik of the New Jersey Devils is a premier property and why not? Big, nasty two-way centres who are as good without the puck as with it don't come along very often and the Rangers would love to lure Holik across the Hudson.
Tony Amonte of the Chicago Blackhawks is blowing out of the windy city. The speedy goal-scorer is reportedly set to touch down on Long Island with Mike Milbury's New York Islanders but Dallas will be trying to make him a star.
The Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne may be hard pressed to earn the $9 million he made last season, but he'll still be in demand.
One of the underrated talents available this year is Scott Young of the St. Louis Blues. Dallas and Philadelphia are said to be two of his chief suitors.
And then there are some interesting possibilities at centre. Pittsburgh's Robert Lang is a solid all-around player who will likely hit a home run. Vancouver's Andrew Cassels will be get offers, but not from the Canucks.
There's a little something for everybody in this year's free-agent pool. If it's a tough forward you're looking for, Tie Domi fits the bill and for those who thought he was perhaps overpaid in Toronto at a little over $1 million, wait until you see what he's making next season.
Back on the blueline, the pickings are much slimmer.
Someone, perhaps the Islanders, will pay a premium to get hard-rock defenceman Darius Kasparaitis. It's difficult to imagine reniassance man Chris Chelios leaving the Detroit Red Wings, but if the reports of the Rangers offering him a long-term deal at big bucks are true, he'll have to at least consider the idea.
Where this free agency derby is going to get really interesting is in goal, where a bevy of big names is are available. But it's beginning to look like the supply may exceed the demand.
Ed Belfour may be the most marketable commodity because there is a perception out there that he could be had at a reasonable price. Belfour is coming off a tough year and that will temper whatever financial reward he might get.
Curtis Joseph is the best goalie for an upgrade, while Mike Richter, by all accounts, would have loved to finish his career as a Ranger. That only would have happened if he took a considerable pay cut and there's talk out there that a team like the St. Louis Blues might be prepared to roll the dice on Richter.
Byron Dafoe of the Boston Bruins might be victimized by the supply and demand curve. Boston looks as though its going in a different direction and there doesn't seem to be a natural suitor out there banging on Dafoe's door. Tom Barrasso is another netminder who'll be looking to catch on somewhere.
Of course, we could also start talking about the restricted free agents, not the least of which are Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Montreal's Jose Theodore. But that is another story for another day. There's nothing to stop any NHL team from stepping up with an offer sheet to one of them, but logic suggests the unrestricted free agents will get the spotlight for the next few days. But Iginla and Theodore provide some fascinating possibilities.
Stay tuned. It's going to be a wild ride.
For tsn.ca, I'm Bob McKenzie.